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FDA and CDC Remind Consumers of the Dangers of Drinking Raw Milk

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are reminding consumers of the dangers of drinking milk that has not been// pasteurized, known as raw milk. Raw milk potentially contains a wide variety of harmful bacteria – including Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, Listeria, Campylobacter and Brucella – that may cause illness and possibly death.

Consuming raw milk may be harmful to health. From 1998 to May 2005 CDC identified 45 outbreaks of foodborne illness that implicated unpasteurized milk, or cheese made from unpasteurized milk. These outbreaks accounted for 1,007 illnesses, 104 hospitalizations, and two deaths. This is based on information in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for the week of March 2, 2007. The actual number of illnesses was almost certainly higher because not all cases of illness are recognized and reported.

Consumers who become ill after consuming raw milk, and pregnant women who believe they consumed contaminated raw milk or cheese made from raw milk, should see a doctor or other health care provider immediately.

Symptoms of illness caused by raw milk vary depending on which harmful bacteria are present. Symptoms may include but are not limited to: vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, headache and body ache.

Most healthy people will recover from illness caused by harmful bacteria in raw milk or in foods made with raw milk within a short period of time. But some individuals can develop symptoms that are chronic, severe, or even life-threatening. Illnesses caused by pathogens found in raw milk can be especially severe for pregnant women, the elderly, infants, young children and people with weakened immune systems.

Since 1987, in order to better protect consumers from such risks, FDA has required all milk packaged for human consumption be pasteurized before being delivered for introduction into interstate commerc
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