Humans consumed raw milk before factory farming methods coinciding with the industrial revolution, when large populations congregated into urban areas detached from the agricultural lifestyle to which they were accustomed. Up until that point, individuals and families owned their own goats, cows and other livestock and milked them on a daily basis.
The consumption of raw milk has been empirically linked to undulant fever, dysentery, salmonellosis, and tuberculosis, which are diseases that were eliminated by pasteurization. While pasteurization reduces the content of some vitamins, such as Vitamin C, these nutrients are not present in milk in large quantities to be begin with. .
Proponents of raw milk claim that it is healthy, contains proteins, beneficial bacteria, enzymes and hormones..
Commercial distribution of packaged raw milk is prohibited in many countries. However, 28 US states allow sales of raw milk, and in other parts of the world, raw milk can often be bought directly from the farmer. In England, about 200 producers sell raw, or "green top" milk direct to consumers, either at the farm or through a delivery service. Raw milk is sometimes distributed through a 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. In the United States, Arizona, California, Connecticut, and Washington allow raw milk sales in retail stores with appropriate warning labelling.
In Middle East
Human consumption of raw camel milk is very popular in the Middle East, especially in rural areas. In many large cities there are people who sell raw milk, although some large cities are illegalizing that due to hygiene issues.
Although milk consumption is fairly low compared to the rest of the world, in tribes where milk consumption is popular, such as the Maasai tribe, milk drunk is typically unpasteurized.
Milk is typically consumed unpasteurized in rural areas of Europe, and raw milk can typically be found in small amounts at stores in large cities.
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.
Raw milk for drinking purposes is illegal in all states and territories, as is all raw 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 loop hole.
Section B.08.002.2 (1)
|“||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.||”|
However, like the United States, Canada permits the sale of raw milk cheeses that are aged for at least 60 days.
In the United States
Most states impose restrictions on raw milk suppliers due to concerns about safety. Every state but Pennsylvania, California, New York, and Maryland has passed the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance originally proposed by the United States Public Health Service in 1924. The most recent version is called the 2003 Grade "A" Pasteurized Milk Ordinance. All 50 states permit the sale of raw milk cheeses that are aged for at least 60 days.
Raw milk may be sold from the farm in 28 states under varying restrictions. In California, Connecticut, Maine, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and New Mexico it may be sold in stores. Washington State allows raw milk to be sold with restrictions. Some states allow raw milk to be sold "for animal consumption" only.
Although it is illegal in Indiana, Colorado, Michigan and Ohio for a dairy to sell raw milk, consumers are able to lease part of a cow (a "cow share") or part of a herd (a "herd share") to obtain raw milk. In Michigan, for example, "milk groups" have been formed in which suburban families take turns travelling to a distant dairy farm to obtain the week's raw milk for all the members of the group.
The FDA reports that, in 2002, consuming raw milk and raw milk products caused 200 Americans to become ill in any manner . In comparison, a 1999 CDC report showed that consuming undercooked fish and shellfish causes approximately 8,000 cases of Vibrio illness annually,[neutrality disputed] in addition to all cases of salmonella poisoning, Yersiniosis, Listeriosis, Hepatitis, Gastroenteritis, Diphyllobothriasis, and Nanophyetiasis.
Debate in the United States
Although agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and numerous other world-wide regulatory agencies say that pathogens from raw milk make it unsafe to consume, certain organizations such as the Weston A. Price Foundation in its "Real Milk" campaign say that raw milk has health benefits that get lost in the pasteurization process, and that it can be produced hygienically. 
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yr5pl6lgjJ8 "Raw Milk: The Whole Truth" DVD, 2005
- "raw milk pathogens" (PDF).
- "Roquefort cheese can now be sold in Australia".
- "Statement from Health Canada About Drinking Raw Milk".
- Department of Justice (2007-12-02). "Democrats Seek Perjury Charge for Attorney General". Department of Justice.
- 2003 Grade "A" Pasteurized Milk Ordinance
- Ordinance in .pdf
- Raw milk truth from the Washington State Department of Agriculture
- "What's the Scoop on Raw Milk in Michigan?". Michigan Department of Agriculture.
- Linda Bren. "Got Milk? Make Sure It's Pasteurized". US Food and Drug Administration.
- "Quantitative Risk Assessment on the Public Health Impact of Pathogenic Vibrio parahaemolyticus in Raw Oysters". US Food and Drug Administration. line feed character in
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- "Foodborne Pathogenic Microorganisms and Natural Toxins Handbook". US Food and Drug Administration.
- "FDA and CDC Remind Consumers of the Dangers of Drinking Raw Milk".
- "Raw Milk and Raw Milk Products: Safety, Health, Economic, and Legal Issues".
- Summary of raw milk statutes
- Raw Milk and Raw Milk Products, Safety, Health, Economic and Legal Issues, a presentation by The Weston A. Price Foundation
- New York Times: Should This Milk Be Legal?
- CDC: Health Risks are Still Black and White
- Risk of Consumption of Raw Milk Florida Department of Health