A recent news story concerned some people having been made sick by raw milk in the Northeast United States, and with the news was a renewed outcry on the part of food-safety experts that the sale of raw milk should be banned.
All milk sold for human consumption should be pasteurized to protect the public, the critics say.
Yet, many consumers, including consumers in the San Joaquin Valley, prefer raw milk because of its flavor, and also because they believe it is nutritionally superior to pasteurized milk.
There is always a hue and cry to make things illegal if their use has a bad outcome.
But here are a few things to think about:
First, nobody is forced to buy raw milk. It is a preference on the part of those who buy it. They know what they’re getting, they want it and they are willing to pay a premium for it.
Over the years, I have seen raw milk in some dairy cases, and it always is clearly marked, and clearly more expensive. It’s usually sold in glass bottles rather than paper cartons or plastic bottles. And besides paying more for the milk, you have to pay a deposit on the bottle.
Second, forcing pasteurization on raw-milk consumers would be tantamount to saying all spinach, or even all vegetables, should be either frozen or canned. You may remember that raw spinach has been responsible in recent years for more outbreaks of illness than has raw milk.
Third, pasteurization always is accompanied by another form of processing — homogenization. Some scientists believe homogenization, which breaks up the fat cells in milk so they don’t float to the top of the container, contributes to heart disease.
I don’t happen to drink raw milk now because I’d have to go to Fresno to buy it. But I drank many gallons of it in the past, and prefer it over the pasteurized and homogenized variety. It didn’t make me sick, either.
The production of raw milk already is carefully monitored. That ought to be enough.