Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized or homogenized. Health food proponents tout the benefits of raw milk and the ills of pasteurization and homogenization. The medical community warns of the dangers of not pasteurizing milk. Preferences vary from region to region.
Humans consumed raw milk exclusively prior to the industrial revolution and the invention of the pasteurization process in 1864. During the industrial revolution large populations congregated into urban areas detached from the agricultural lifestyle.
Pasteurization was first used in the United States in the 1890s after the discovery of germ theory to control the hazards of highly contagious bacterial diseases including bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis that was thought to be easily transmitted to humans through the drinking of raw milk. Initially after the scientific discovery of bacteria, no product testing was available to determine if a farmer's milk was safe or infected, so all milk was treated as potentially contagious. After the first test was developed, some farmers actively worked to prevent their infected animals from being killed and removed from food production, or would falsify the test results so that their animals would appear to be free of infection.
Pasteurization is widely used to prevent infected milk from entering the food supply. The recognition of many potentially deadly pathogens, such as E. coli O157:H7, Listeria, and Salmonella, and their presence in milk products has led to the continuation of pasteurization. The Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and other health agencies of the United States strongly recommend that the public do not consume raw milk or raw milk products. Young children, the elderly, people with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women are particularly susceptible to infections originating in raw milk.
Recent advances in the analysis of milk-borne diseases have enabled scientists to track the DNA of the infectious bacteria to the cows on the farms that supplied the raw milk.
Raw vs. pasteurized debate 
The raw vs. pasteurized debate pits the alleged health benefits of consuming raw milk against the pathogen risk associated with drinking raw milk. Agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States, and other regulatory agencies around the world say that pathogens from raw milk make it unsafe to consume,  . Raw milk advocates, such as the Weston A. Price Foundation, say that raw milk can be produced hygienically, and that it has health benefits that are destroyed in the pasteurization process. Additionally, the bacteria found in raw milk are essential to the flavors of many cheeses.
Legal status 
Regulation of the commercial distribution of packaged raw milk varies across the world. Some countries have complete bans, but many had partial bans that do not restrict the purchase of raw milk bought directly from the farmer. Raw milk is sometimes distributed through a cow share program, wherein the consumer owns a share in the dairy animal or the herd, and can be considered to be consuming milk from their own animal. Raw milk is sometimes marketed for animal or pet consumption, or for other uses such as soap making in places where sales for human consumption are prohibited.
Although milk consumption in Africa is fairly low compared to the rest of the world, in tribes where milk consumption is popular, such as the Maasai tribe, milk is typically consumed unpasteurized.
In rural areas of Asia where milk consumption is popular, milk is typically unpasteurized. In large cities of Asia, raw milk, especially from water buffalo, is typical. In most countries of Asia, laws prohibiting raw milk are nonexistent or rarely enforced. However, while milk is sold raw in these areas, household milk is usually consumed after boiling.[original research?]
According to the regulations in the European Union all raw milk products are "legal" and considered "safe for human consumption", and can be sold without any price, variety or quantity restrictions. However, the European countries are free to add certain requirements, usually special sanitary regulations and frequent quality tests (at least once per month) are mandatory.
Raw milk and especially raw milk cheeses are considered the standard for high quality dairy products. Many French cuisine traditionalists consider pasteurized cheeses almost a sacrilege. Many traditional French cheeses have solely been made from raw milk for hundreds of years.
In Germany, raw milk is sold as Vorzugsmilch. This means, the raw milk has to be packed before vending, with the necessary information (Producer, durability etc.) written on the product. The distribution license has severe quality restrictions, and so just 80 farmers in Germany have one.
Unpacked raw milk can only be
- bought at the farm itself
- only milk from that farm
- only from today or the day before production
- must have a warning label "Raw Milk - boil before usage"
It is sold widely in all health food stores, large supermarkets, gourmet delis and delicatessen sections of department stores. Raw milk is legally sold in the entire country, and the same goes for raw milk cheeses, which are especially sought out and promoted by the health food and slow food movements.
United Kingdom 
Distribution of raw milk is illegal in Scotland. While it is legal in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the only registered producers are in England. About 200 producers sell raw, or "green top" milk direct to consumers, either at the farm, at a farmers' market, or through a delivery service. The bottle must display the warning "this product has not been heat-treated and may contain organisms harmful to health", and the dairy must conform to higher hygiene standards than dairies producing only pasteurised milk.
As it is only legal to supply unpasteurised milk direct to consumers, it is illegal to be sold on the High Street, via shops or supermarkets.
Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia, 
These countries allow the distribution of unprocessed raw milk. This is mostly done by automatic vending machines known as "Mlekomat". An EU programme supports the farmers with 50% of their investments in vending machines.
North America 
No person shall sell the normal lacteal secretion obtained from the mammary gland of the cow, genus Bos, or of any other animal, or sell a dairy product made with any such secretion, unless the secretion or dairy product has been pasteurized by being held at a temperature and for a period that ensure the reduction of the alkaline phosphatase activity so as to meet the tolerances specified in official method MFO-3, Determination of Phosphatase Activity in Dairy Products, dated November 30, 1981.—, Section B.08.002.2 (1)
Provincial laws also forbid the sale and distribution of raw milk. For instance, Ontario's Health Protection and Promotion Act, subsection 18(1) reads: "No person shall sell, offer for sale, deliver or distribute milk or cream that has not been pasteurized or sterilized in a plant that is licensed under the Milk Act or in a plant outside Ontario that meets the standards for plants licensed under the Milk Act."
In January 2010, Michael Schmidt was found not guilty on 19 charges relating to the sale of raw milk in the Ontario Court of Justice. As of February, 2011, that case is under appeal with a scheduled hearing date in April, 2011.
In British Columbia, Alice Jongerden is challenging the constitutionality of that province's legislation, which deems raw milk to be a hazardous product.
Meanwhile, Canada does permit the sale of raw milk cheeses that are aged over 60 days. In 2009, the province of Quebec modified regulations to allow raw milk cheeses aged less than 60 days provided stringent safeguards are met.
United States 
Twenty-eight U.S. states do not prohibit sales of raw milk. Cow shares can be found, and raw milk purchased for animal consumption in many states where retail for human consumption is prohibited.
Most states impose restrictions on raw milk suppliers due to concerns about safety. As of 2009, the state of Connecticut has discussed creating possible restrictions upon the sale of raw milk to farms and farmer's markets. The FDA reports that, in 2002, consuming partially heated raw milk and raw milk products caused 200 Americans to become ill in some manner.
Many governmental officials and the majority of public health organizations hold to the need for pasteurization. Before pasteurization, many dairies, especially in cities, fed their cattle on low-quality food, and their milk was rife with dangerous bacteria. Pasteurizing it was the only way to make it safely drinkable. As pasteurization has been standard for many years, it is now widely assumed that raw milk is dangerous. The Cornell University Food Science Department has compiled data indicating that pathogenic microorganisms are present in between 0.87% and 12.6% of raw milk samples.
Proponents of raw milk (in the U.S.) advance two basic arguments for unpasteurized milk. They claim that pasteurization destroys or damages some of the milk's nutrients, and that while pasteurization may kill dangerous bacteria, it also kills off good bacteria that raw milk supporters claim to have health benefits. The United States Food and Drug administration claims that this is false, and that pasteurizing milk does not destroy any of its nutritive value.
Proponents also invoke the benefits of direct-marketing when promoting the sale of raw milk. The ability of the farmer to eliminate the middle-man and sell directly to the consumer allows for greater profitability. Many manufacturers sell small-scale pasteurization equipment, thereby allowing farmers to both bypass the milk processors and sell pasteurized milk directly to the consumer. Additionally, some small U.S. dairies are now beginning to adopt low-temperature vat pasteurization. Advocates of low-temperature vat pasteurization note that it produces a product similar to raw milk in composition and is not homogenized.
The sale of raw milk for drinking purposes is illegal in all states and territories in Australia, as is all raw milk cheese. This has been circumvented somewhat by selling raw milk as bath milk. An exception to the cheese rule has been made recently for two Roquefort cheeses. There is some indication of share owning cows, allowing the "owners" to consume the raw milk, but also evidence that the government is trying to close this loophole.
New Zealand 
Raw milk products can be made and sold in New Zealand, but is highly regulated to offset the pathogen risk. Raw milk for drinking can only be sold directly from a producer (the farm gate) and only in amounts suitable for personal consumption.
See also 
- Terri Peterson Smith (31 August 2010). "Got E. coli? Raw Milk's Appeal Grows Despite Health Risks". Scientific American. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
- An Impossible Undertaking: The Eradication of Bovine Tuberculosis in the United States, Alan L. Olmstead and Paul W. Rhode, The Journal of Economic History (2004), 64 : 734-772 Cambridge University Press, Copyright © 2004 The Economic History Association, doi:10.1017/S0022050704002955
- Not on My Farm!: Resistance to Bovine Tuberculosis Eradication in the United States, Alan L. Olmstead and Paul W. Rhode, January 2005, The Journal of Economic History (2007), 67 : 768-809 Cambridge University Press, Copyright © 2007 The Economic History Association, doi:10.1017/S0022050707000307
- The Dangers of Raw Milk: Unpasteurized Milk Can Pose a Serious Health Risk
- Raw Milk and Cheeses: Health Risks are Still Black and White
- The Raw-Milk Deal
- "FDA and CDC Remind Consumers of the Dangers of Drinking Raw Milk". US FDA. March 1, 2007. Retrieved 2009-06-05.
- "The Dangers of Raw Milk: Unpasteurized Milk Can Pose a Serious Health Risk".
- Commission Regulation (EU) No 605/2010 of 2 July 2010 laying down animal and public health and veterinary certification conditions for the introduction into the European Union of raw milk and dairy products intended for human consumption (OJ L175, 10.7.2010, page 1)
- Understand France: The best cheeses are made with raw milk.
- Information about raw milk production by the German raw milk industry (no English version available)
- One of the leading German newspapers, Der Tagesspiegel, writes about raw milk, raw cheeses and the controversy in the US compared to the legal and normal status in Germany and Europe (no English version)
- The Association of Unpasteurised Milk Producers and Consumers, Hardwick Estate Office, Whitchurch-on-Thames, Reading RG8 7RB
- "Statement from Health Canada About Drinking Raw Milk".
- Health Protection and Promotion Act, R.S.O. 1990, C. H.7, Sections 18(1), 18(2) and 100 (1) Milk Act, R.S.O. 1990, R. v. Schmidt 2010 ONCJ 9 CanLII
- Quebec to allow raw-milk cheeses
- Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund. "State-by-State Review of Raw Milk Laws".
- Hannah Wallace. "Raw Milk- Still Controversial?".
- Linda Bren (2004). "Got Milk? Make Sure It's Pasteurized". US Food and Drug Administration.
- Ann Monroe. "Trafficking in Raw Milk". MSN Lifestyle.
- Raw Milk Sales & Consumption - Position Statement
- "A Campaign for Real Milk/The Weston A. Price Foundation".
- Raw Milk Alternatives
- "raw milk pathogens".
- "Roquefort cheese can now be sold in Australia".
- "Manufacturing raw milk products". New Zealand Food Safety Authority. Retrieved 4 December 2011.