Drinking raw milk can come with serious health risks for consumers, says research

* Unpasteurised milk can develop antimicrobial-resistant genes when not refrigerated all the time

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Researchers from the University of California Davis (in the United States) in a new study have explored the risks associated with raw milk, which is typically sold to consumers on the idea that it has better health properties than pasteurised milk.

The study found that properly storing raw milk is crucial. When left out of the refrigerator, raw milk can develop antimicrobial-resistant genes, reports ConsumerAffairs.

These genes don’t respond to traditional antibiotic treatment and could potentially develop into a superbug, it noted.

Of the new study, researcher Jinxin Liu said: “Two things surprised us. We didn’t find large quantities of beneficial bacteria in the raw milk samples, and if you leave raw milk at room temperature, it creates dramatically antimicrobial-resistant genes than pasteurised milk.”

Liu stated that “we don’t want to scare people; we want to educate them.

“If you want to keep drinking raw milk, keep it in your refrigerator to minimise the risk of it developing bacteria with antibiotic-resistant genes.”

Drinking raw milk poses risk to consumers’ well-being    Photo: African Retail

In eliminating the risk raw milk poses to consumers, the researchers analysed over 2,000 raw milk samples. The samples hailed from five states, and were all products that consumers could buy on store shelves.

The researchers left the samples in a room-temperature environment and compared the results with more traditional-style milk that is pasteurised.

Ultimately, when left outside the refrigerator, raw milk developed antibiotic-resistant bacteria much faster than pasteurised milk and in much higher quantities.

Bacteria are able to flourish in raw milk because of the subtraction of the pasteurization process, especially when not chilled properly, they said.

When raw milk curdles, it creates a yogurt-like substance known as clabber. Ingesting raw milk at warmer temperatures is particularly dangerous because antibiotic-resistant bacteria can multiply over time, according to the researchers.

David Mills, one of the researchers stated: “You could just be flooding your gastrointestinal tract with these genes.

“We don’t live in an antibiotic-free world anymore. These genes are everywhere, and we need to do everything we can to stop that flow into our bodies.”

Researcher Michele Jay-Russell also submitted “our study shows that with any temperature abuse in raw milk, whether intentional or not, it can grow these bacteria with antimicrobial resistant genes.

“It’s not just going to spoil. It’s really high risk if not handled correctly.”

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