CANADA – U.S. officials have renewed warnings about raw milk consumption which they claim continues to cause illness across several states despite associated risks being widely known.

Earlier in February, the U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Infection concluded that raw milk from a Pennsylvania farm infected a consumer with a rare strain of Brucella bacterium that is resistant to antibiotics and manifests like the flu.

Tracing sale of the product, investigators found it in over a third of U.S. states. It is the third time since 2017 that raw milk has been connected to brucellosis, causing the centre to warn the public of the risks of consuming unpasteurized dairy products. Heating milk to a high enough temperature can kill Brucella and other germs that can cause sickness and even death, however, proponents of raw milk in both the U.S. and Canada complain that pasteurization can cause allergies in dairy products which are left with fewer healthy enzymes and nutrients. The centre maintains that raw milk and cheese are responsible for 96 per cent of illnesses linked to dairy products.

In Ontario, proponents of raw milk as a healthier option have been battling for years for the right to market it to customers. Leading the charge for close to 25 years in Canada has been Michael Schmidt who has been prosecuted, charged, fined, and jailed. Still Schmidt bounces back, his latest project being the Centre for Performance and Agriculture.

Some Canadian advocates who spent decades peacefully trying to obtain raw milk from farmers, despite steady harassment from authorities, are working on a court challenge that contends that their constitutional rights are being violated.

More than half of the U.S. states have enacted laws permitting access to raw milk. According to the disease control centre, outbreaks are increasing; from 2007 to 2012, it states, the average number of incidents linked to raw milk was four times higher than in the previous 13 years.

Canada is the only G-7 country that completely prohibits sale and distribution of raw milk under both federal and provincial laws.