Healthy living

Raw Milk

Cow being milked with pump
In Western Australia it is illegal for raw milk to be sold for human consumption

What is raw milk

Raw or unpasteurised milk is milk that has not been heated to kill bacteria and other organisms which may be harmful to humans.

Often these organisms are found in the faecal droppings of the animal and contaminate the cow’s udder or teat.

How is milk treated (pasteurised) to make it safe to drink

The pasteurisation process is achieved by heating the milk for a set number of seconds before immediately cooling the milk.  Nothing is added or extracted during the pasteurisation process.

Some people believe drinking raw milk is more ‘natural.’ However, the heating process does nothing to the milk’s goodness and nutritional value – it simply kills harmful bacteria and other organisms that may be present.

Raw milk products in Western Australia

In Western Australia it is illegal for raw milk to be sold for human consumption.

Often these products are sold and promoted in shops for cosmetic purposes such as 'bath milk'. It is a legal requirement that raw milk products are clearly marked as not intended for human consumption. 

Health consequences of drinking raw milk

There are a number of bacterial organisms and parasites that can reside in raw milk, which can lead to serious illness. These include:

  • Listeria
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Campylobacter
  • Salmonella
  • Cryptosporidium
  • toxin-producing E. coli.

If a person drinks raw milk containing any of these organisms they can experience symptoms ranging from diarrhoea and vomiting through to life threatening illnesses such as listeriosis and haemolytic uraemic syndrome which can lead to kidney failure and death.

Where to get help

If you are concerned about the effects of consuming raw milk

  • Call Health Direct on 1800 022 222
  • See your GP
  • In case of an emergency call 000 for an ambulance.

Remember

  • The bacteria in raw milk can affect anyone – young and old - however fit and healthy they may be.

See also