Historically, unpasteurized milk has been linked to many serious diseases. Several kinds of bacteria that can be found in raw milk, such as Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria, have been linked to foodborne illness outbreaks. These bacteria can cause serious health conditions, ranging from fever, vomiting and diarrhea to life-threatening kidney failure, miscarriage and death. Children, pregnant women, older adults and people with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk.
Due to these health concerns, the Food and Drug Regulations require that all milk sold in Canada be pasteurized. Pasteurization kills the organisms that may cause disease while keeping the nutritional properties of milk intact. Raw milk has not been treated to make it safe. It has also not been fortified with vitamin D.
Pasteurized milk is an important food and contains many nutrients that are essential for good health, including protein, calcium and vitamin D. The number of foodborne illness outbreaks from milk has dramatically decreased since pasteurization was made mandatory by Health Canada in 1991.
The sale of raw milk (except for further manufacturing) is prohibited under the Food and Drugs Act. Raw milk cheese is allowed for sale and considered safe because its manufacturing process helps to eliminate many pathogens that may be present in raw milk.
Although raw milk is not allowed to be sold in Canada, people have become ill after drinking it when visiting farms. While pasteurized milk is now the standard, there are some Canadians who continue to prefer raw milk because they believe it is healthier. However, it is important to note that any possible benefits are far outweighed by the serious risk of illness from drinking raw milk.
For more information on raw milk and food safety, please visit: