Raw milk

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Raw milk is untreated milk from farm animals .

Raw milk can be contaminated with pathogenic microorganisms . The germ load of raw milk depends, among other things, on the feeding and the state of health of the animal, the bacterial flora of the udder skin , the hygiene during milking and the milking technique . Outbreaks of disease in people that are attributed to the consumption of raw milk are documented. Pasteurization has therefore established itself as the standard procedure for avoiding health risks , while the sale of raw milk and raw milk products is generally prohibited in many countries or only permitted in narrowly defined exceptions.

Legal basis

EU law

In the European Union , milk known as “raw milk” must not have been heated to over 40 ° C or subjected to a treatment with a similar effect. Microfiltration is also prohibited .

According to the food law of the European Union , raw milk is the name for "the unchanged milk of farm animals that has not been heated to over 40 ° C and has not been subjected to any treatment with a similar effect" and has not been treated by microfiltration , i.e. filtered through filters with very small pores . In order to minimize the risk of infection , special hygiene regulations and labeling requirements apply to the production, treatment and marketing of raw milk and raw milk products in the European Union . Raw milk for immediate consumption must be labeled with the word “raw milk”. It is up to the member states to ban or restrict the supply of raw milk and raw cream to consumers nationally.


The sale of raw milk (or raw cream) to consumers is strictly prohibited as a criminal offense; this also applies to the free serving to try or to raw milk in which no pathogens can be detected.

In exceptional cases, it may only be given to consumers

  1. than under the name of the food fat milk packaged, calculated under higher hygienic requirements for its nature, to their constant cooling and the officially approved generator operation and a marking with a from obtaining more than 96 hours before date and the warning "Store at most 8 ° Celsius ”and not in communal catering facilities (such as school canteens) or
  2. directly in and from the company in which it was treated and obtained on that day or the day before, provided that this was often reported to the food inspection authorities, so-called " milk from the farm " or "milk filling station", general hygiene requirements are observed and can be easily read at the delivery point the declaration is appropriate: "Raw milk, boil before consumption".


A similar definition for raw milk as under EU law applies in Swiss law: "Raw milk is milk that has not been heated to over 40 ° C and has not undergone any further treatment with a similar effect" ( Art. 32 Para. 2 VLth ). It is considered "not ready for consumption" and may have to be. a. be provided with a note that it "must be heated to at least 70 ° C before consumption" ( Art. 38 para. 1 VLth )

Raw milk activism and consumption

The milk production of the United States began to industrialize from the 1800s. Mass production and distribution of milk and dairy products initially led to widespread outbreaks of milk-borne diseases. The greatest dairy-related dangers of that time were poor hygiene and handling practices and sick dairy cows. Milk produced and transported under unsanitary conditions caused repeated outbreaks of typhoid , scarlet fever , diphtheria , diarrhea and streptococcal-induced toxic shock syndrome . Because of these contaminated milk problems, two public health movements emerged that attacked both the suppliers of bad milk and each other. The Certified Milk Movement promoted hygiene at all stages of milk production and marketing under the supervision of medical milk commissions, but opposed pasteurization, claiming that it caused malnutrition, allowed the marketing of "sterilized refuse" and destroyed the natural taste of milk . On the other hand, the Pasteurized Milk Movement condemned certified milk as unsafe despite health precautions. After several epidemics attributed to the consumption of certified raw milk, pasteurization was accepted as the primary health protection for the national milk supply. The hygienic concepts of the movement for certified milk were included in the milk hygiene codes as important supplementary protective measures. Despite the lack of evidence that milk pasteurization has negative effects on human nutrition or health, raw milk (certified and uncertified) was still sold. "Organic food" enthusiasts advertised and advertised this intensively with arguments similar to those that were put forward in the 1890s. The current, health-related main arguments of the proponents of untreated milk are:

Raw milk advocates suggest that unpasteurized dairy products are completely harmless and that they can prevent or treat a wide range of diseases, including heart disease, kidney disease , cancer and lactose intolerance . The taste argument also plays a role to this day. Raw milk consumption has always been common in farming families; most farming families cite taste and convenience as the main reasons. A small portion of the rest of the US population also consumes raw milk. In the FoodNet population survey from 2002, 3.5% of respondents said they had consumed unpasteurized milk in the seven days prior to the survey. A survey of US raw milk consumers published in 2014 found that 86 of the 153 participants justified their raw milk consumption with a belief in health benefits and easier digestion. 12 participants said that they liked raw milk better than pasteurized milk. Eight participants cited social and environmental concerns such as “helping local farmers” and “it's better for the cows”. Six participants said they had allergies to pasteurized milk, and two claimed that consumption of raw milk cured unspecified diseases. 6 other participants gave individual reasons such as “I grew up with it” or “I do not eat processed foods”.

Health aspects of raw milk and its pasteurization

The potential dangers of consuming raw milk come from pathogenic microorganisms such as Salmonella , Campylobacter , Yersinia , Listeria and Escherichia coli . These can not only occur in raw milk, they can also be reproduced in milk and milk products. There are many reports that raw milk has been found to be a source of disease outbreaks. The consumption of raw milk is particularly risky for infants, toddlers, pregnant women, the elderly and people with reduced immune systems . The feeding of poor quality silage , poor hygiene and inadequate lighting in the stalls and the milking room are primarily responsible for the occurrence of listeria . Therefore, one occasionally finds the information that the raw milk was produced without silage or silage. In the past, bovine tuberculosis pathogens contained in raw milk played an important role as a source of infection for tuberculosis in humans. This risk is now low in Western Europe, but is still high in other parts of the world.

Early summer meningoencephalitis (TBE), an inflammation of the meninges caused by viruses , can also be transmitted through raw milk . In a study by the Robert Koch Institute , of almost 3700 TBE cases in Latvia in 1997, 5.3 percent of the diseases were transmitted through food in children and 3.1 percent in adults. In Germany, a total of 143 people fell ill with TBE in 2012, although no statements can be made about the type of transmission.

Pasteurization has been shown to result in only a very small loss of fat-soluble vitamins ( vitamins A , D and E ), while negative effects on other nutrients cannot be demonstrated. Enzymes and antibodies are inactivated (" denatured ") by heat treatment , but when raw milk is consumed, the same effect occurs through protein digestion in the stomach . Dairy products made with lactobacilli (for example yogurt ) can be found in large numbers on the market. An improved willingness to defend against illnesses after consumption of raw milk has not been proven. In 1974, the Federal Health Council assessed in its vote on the subject of the " nutritional value of raw milk compared to the health risks" that "the consumption of raw milk offers no nutritional benefits, but that it represents a health risk for humans compared to the consumption of heated milk". This risk can "only be reduced to an acceptable minimum through a considerable, costly investigation and monitoring of the raw milk suppliers". Apart from staphylococcal enterotoxins, recognized heat treatment processes can safely exclude the microbiological dangers of drinking milk. Only in the event of technical errors in the heat treatment or subsequent recontamination can pasteurized milk also cause infections. However, these are accidents that are exceptional in modern dairy technology.

Marketing and Use

In Germany, many raw milk products are not available in the supermarket, but only through direct sales at the farm. The use of raw milk defines some types of cheese , namely raw milk cheese .


Web links

Wiktionary: Raw milk  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d Marcus Specker: Investigations into the occurrence of Listeria, Salmonella, Campylobacter and Staphylococci in raw milk in the state of Brandenburg . Dissertation. Freie Univ., Berlin 1996, p. 80–83 ( full text [PDF]).
  2. a b c J. T. Lejeune, PJ Rajala-Schultz: Food safety: unpasteurized milk: a continued public health threat. In: Clinical Infectious Diseases . Volume 48, Number 1, January 2009, pp. 93-100, ISSN  1537-6591 . doi: 10.1086 / 595007 . PMID 19053805 . (Review).
  3. § 17 - Delivery of raw milk or raw cream to consumers. In: Ordinance on hygiene requirements for the production, treatment and marketing of certain foods of animal origin (Tierische Lebensmittel-Hygieneverordnung - Tier-LMHV). Federal Ministries for Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection and for Health in agreement with the Federal Ministries for Economics and Technology, for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Finance and Justice with the consent of the Federal Council of the Federal Republic of Germany, April 18, 2018, accessed on February 9 2020 .
  4. Raw Milk Laws. In: State Milk Laws. National Conference of State Legislatures of the USA, accessed February 9, 2020 .
  5. Annex I No. 4.1 EC Regulation 853/2004
  6. Appendix III Section IX Chap. IV No. 1 EC Regulation 853/2004.
  7. Section 17 Paragraph 1 of the Ordinance on Hygiene Requirements for the Production, Treatment and Marketing of Certain Food of Animal Origin (Tierische Lebensmittel-Hygieneverordnung - Tier-LMHV) with Section 23 Paragraph 1 No. 5 Tier-LMHV and with § 58 Abs. 1 LFGB
  8. Section 17 (2) and (3), Section 18 Tier-LMHV and Annex 9 to this
  9. Section 17, Paragraph 4, Clause 2 Tier-LMHV with the corresponding application of Appendix 2 to the Food Hygiene Ordinance.
  10. Section 17 (4) Tier-LMHV
  11. ^ ME Potter, AF Kaufmann, PA Blake, RA Feldman: Unpasteurized milk. The hazards of a health fetish. In: JAMA. 252 (15), Oct 19, 1984, pp. 2048-2052. PMID 6481912 .
  12. Raw milk straight from the farm? In: Website of the Bavarian Consumer Service in the KDFB eV Consumer Service Bavaria, May 1, 2019, accessed on February 9, 2020 .
  13. Gerard E. Mullin, Stephen M. Belkoff: Survey to Determine Why People Drink Raw Milk In: Glob Adv Health Med. 2014 Nov; 3 (6): 19-24. doi : 10.7453 / gahmj.2014.041 . PMID 25568829 . PMC 4268642 (free full text).
  14. Information service Agriculture - Food - Rural Areas, Baden-Württemberg: No raw milk products during pregnancy , February 17, 2013.
  15. M. Sanaa et al .: Risk factors associated with contamination of raw milk by Listeria monocytogenes in dairy farms . In: Journal of Dairy Science. 76, 1993, pp. 2891-2898.
  16. BLV : early summer meningoencephalitis encephalitis in animals and in humans.
  17. TBE risk also from untreated raw milk. In: Ärztezeitung . May 12, 2010.
  18. TBE infection from raw milk. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung. May 17, 2010, accessed August 9, 2012.
  19. TBE cases in Germany at their lowest level. In: Doctors newspaper. , accessed August 9, 2012.
  20. The Brockhaus Nutrition. FA Brockhaus, 2001; aid information service 46/01, 34/03, 27/03.