How a growing enthusiasm for raw milk clashes with the fear of bird flu

A growing bird flu epidemic has spread among American livestock and poultry, prompting harsh warnings from federal health and food safety regulators to avoid raw milk and eggs.

It all comes amid a rise in the number of people drinking raw, unpasteurized milk, a trend that could lead to dangers not limited to bird flu.

Because it is not pasteurized like the milk normally sold in supermarkets, raw milk is not treated with heat to kill potential pathogens.

Experts warn that without pasteurization, viruses such as E. coli, salmonella, listeria and the current bird flu could infect vulnerable populations.

John Lucey, a professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told The Hill that the bird flu outbreak in livestock is a “serious public health concern” because of the risk from raw milk.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration have done sowarned repeatedlyin recent weeks to avoid raw dairy products due to the bird flu outbreak.

The urgency of the CDC warnings is tied to an increase in raw milk sales.

Despite warnings from federal regulators and food scientists, raw milk sales have actually increased since the bird flu epidemic first appeared in the US.

According to market research firm NielsenIQ, sales of raw dairy products have increased by at least 25 percent compared to last year.

Although it is federally illegal to trade raw milk across state lines, a number of states have relaxed restrictions on the sale of raw milk within their borders in recent years.

The sale of raw dairy products is legal in 14 states and has only limited restrictions in more than 20 other states, according to the raw milk advocacy group. Campaign for real milk.

Thousands of farms and individual retailers sell raw dairy products in the US, and so do their offerings easily searchableonline through raw milk enthusiast sites.

Proponents claim that raw milk is healthier than the pasteurized alternative, preventing disease or even extending lifespan.no scientific basisfor the claims.

Critics are doubtful.

“I have been researching dairy products and milk for more than twenty years,” says Lucey. “No one in my field believes these fantastic claims.”

“These claims – I am a chemist by trade – have no scientific or chemical basis whatsoever,” he continued.

Lucey compared the requirement to pasteurize milk to the standard that every piece of chicken must be cooked before it is eaten.

“There may be pathogens that can cause serious illness from eating or consuming raw milk, just like raw meat,” he said.

Milk carries a high viral load of the current bird flu, Lucey said, meaning there is a significant risk that milk from a cow infected with bird flu could be sold on the market. He hypothesized that the current bird flu might have receptors that are especially effective in the mammary glands of cattle, although research into the current outbreak is still in its early stages.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has confirmed outbreaks in 51 herds of livestock across the country, including Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Kansas, Colorado, Idaho, Ohio, South Dakota and Texas.

There have been no cases of bird flu in humans linked to raw milk, but the risk is there, Lucey said. Two people in the US have been infected with bird flu in connection with the current outbreak.

aAnalysis from Johns Hopkins UniversityAll studies on the safety of raw milk show that more than half of outbreaks of milk-related foodborne illness are due to raw milk, despite only about 3.5 percent of the population consuming it in 2015.

As for raw milk, Lucey says the problem remains serious because the people who drink the most dairy milk, children and pregnant women, are inherently more vulnerable to food-borne illness.

“If they drink contaminated milk,” Lucey said of the vulnerable groups, “they are the ones who can have long-lasting effects.”

“Fortunately, we already have a good solution for this virus: pasteurization,” he continued. “It is 100 percent effective at killing pathogens. If that were not the case, we would be in a completely different situation.”

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