BfR warning: Boil raw milk before consumption

BfR warning: Boil raw milk before consumption

Experts warn of health risks from germs in fresh milk
Milk-fresh milk from the farm is very trendy. More and more producers are enabling their customers to tap the product directly from a raw milk dispenser. However, the milk should be boiled before consumption, because it can be contaminated with pathogenic germs. This is indicated by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) in a current communication. If the milk is drunk untreated, the pathogens can lead to serious illnesses.

Untreated milk is drawn directly from the machine
Fresh milk from the farm is becoming increasingly popular. For example, researchers at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich (LMU) recently reported that raw milk is good protection against asthma in children. The trend is towards the so-called “milk filling station”, where consumers can tap the freshly-milked product from the machine around the clock. In this way, the untreated milk from cattle, sheep and goats is passed on to the consumer with the natural fat content without homogenization and heat treatment (e.g. pasteurization).

As a result, however, it can be contaminated with pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella, Campylobacter or enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC), according to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment. The feces could get into the raw milk quickly, especially due to faecal contamination during milking. The automatic dispensers can keep the milk cool and prevent bacteria from multiplying, but if there were germs before, they cannot be reduced by cooling.

Risk groups should also heat up preferred milk
The risk of infection therefore remains, which is why the machines must be labeled with the note "Raw milk, boil before consumption". However, isolated reports of food infections related to the product suggest that this advice is not always followed by consumers, according to the BfR. The boiling off of the fresh product is an extremely important process to avoid health risks. Because in infants, toddlers, older and immunocompromised people, food infections can take a particularly severe course. Most of them are infections with Campylobacter, which are associated with fever, diarrhea and pelvic pain. In some cases, EHEC bacteria can also lead to serious illnesses, especially toddlers have an increased risk of “haemolytic uraemic syndrome” (HUS), which can cause permanent kidney damage.

Accordingly, the risk groups mentioned should only consume preferred milk when boiled, on the advice of the BfR. This is packaged raw milk, which comes from specially controlled companies and is available in retail stores. Although strict regulations regarding extraction and treatment apply to these, the presence of pathogens cannot be excluded, warns the BfR. The institute further advises against the preparation and consumption of unheated or “cold” cocoa drinks or other milk mix drinks (milk shakes) made from raw milk directly on site or at home. (No)

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