The Raw Milk Debate

May 4, 2010 at 8:21 pm

I saw this article in the Chicago Tribune a few days ago and I thought it was important to discuss here. Since we cheese makers need milk to make cheese, we should be included in the “raw milk debate”.

Maybe you’ve only just heard of this debate but it’s been going on since the decades. Many cheese mongers agree that the tastiest cheese comes from raw, fresh milk that still has all the essential cheese making organisms in it. The problem with raw milk though, is that it is very perishable and is suseptable to contamination.

Enter bearded frenchman, Louis Pasteur. He invented a way to “clean” the raw milk to make it last a little longer and from a microbiologist’s stand point, a little safer.

There are few ways to pastuerize milk some good and some bad. The “good” way is to heat the milk to 144 degrees and hold it for 30 minutes. This allows the milk to be pastuerized and not get that “cooked” flavor. This is the kind of milk we use to make cheese – if we’re not using raw milk.

Most big chain dairies who focus on making the most product in the least amount of time, use the faster “bad” way. They heat the milk to 160 degrees and hold it there for 15 seconds. They effectively kill all the living organisms in the milk and make it useless for making cheese but it works ok for cereal. Most store bought cheeses were made using milk that was heated over 100 degrees and as a result the flavors in the cheese are more muted than if it were made with raw milk.

In general I think that raw milk is a good idea – but only if you know where it comes from. I think drinking raw milk goes along with knowing your food’s source, in this case the cow. All in all I think choosing raw milk over pasteurized milk should be a personal decision and not one the government should regulate. In my opinion, raw milk is safer than some of the stuff the government allows – ie. high fructose corn syurp.

In any case, read the article and you decide. Does raw milk pose a civilian health risk or should it be a personal choice?