Raw milk — milk that comes straight from the cow, goat or sheep without being pasteurized can carry harmful bacteria and other germs that can cause severe illness, even death. The same goes for milk products such as certain cheeses, ice cream, and yogurt produced from raw milk.
Pasteurization is the process of heating milk to a high enough temperature for a long enough time to kill disease-causing bacteria contained in the milk. Pasteurization became widespread in the United States by 1950. While the retail sale of raw milk is banned in many states, including Colorado, it is still made available in this state and others through the purchase of a cow or goat share operation. In this case, the consumer purchases a share of the actual animal and receives a quantity of the milk produced. Milk and milk products in Colorado are monitored by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s (CDPHE) Division of Environmental Health and Sustainability. Inspections are regularly performed and products are regularly sampled at all dairy farms, dairy plants and milk plants around Colorado.
Public health officials warn consumers that consuming raw milk poses a high risk of contracting foodborne illness.
- The Centers for Disease Control has a raw milk website that contains useful information and materials, including a list of relevant publications and other scientific resources on illnesses associated with raw milk consumption.
- Raw Milk Frequently Asked Questions from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
- Real RawMilk Facts: Families share their stories on video to help raise awareness about the potential risks and negative effects on health from drinking contaminated raw milk. Real Life Stories page.