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Raw Milk Advocacy on Social Media Raises Concerns Amidst Pasteurization Debate

Visual Representation for Bird Flu | Credits: Reuters

United States: Amid the season when bird flu is at its peak and the infection has spread among the human population various rumours has been spreading. However, the health experts have warned the public about not to consume the raw milk, no matter what social media tells you. 

While addressing the current outbreak of the flu, the federal health agencies outlined that remnants of the virus are found among the milk samples of commercial dairy products when samples were tested. Accordingly, around one in five samples contained the virus in it. However, the agencies have clarified that none of the milk samples contained live virus, which could sicken people, as reported by USA Today. 

Authorities also asserted that experimentation on tainted dairy reaffirmed the efficacy of pasteurization in eradicating the avian influenza virus, rendering it suitable for consumption.

Despite these affirmations, an apparently burgeoning cadre of influencers and creators online, particularly on TikTok, has taken to bragging about ingesting unpasteurized milk, extolling purported advantages, and fostering doubt regarding the safety of pasteurization.

While the empirically supported practice has been employed for over a century, some contend it is superfluous or even deleterious. Regrettably, this could mean that adherents to such advice are risking harm, particularly if the raw product is ingested by children, the elderly, an expectant individual, or someone with a compromised immune system.

Here’s an elucidation of pasteurization and its effects on the commodities we ingest.

What is pasteurization, and why is it crucial?

Pasteurization involves subjecting milk to elevated temperatures for extended durations to exterminate harmful pathogens, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Visual Representation | Credits: Bloomberg via Getty Images

The process of pasteurization became customary in the commercial milk supply in the US during the 1920s and was prevalent by the 1950s. Consequently, illnesses commonly transmitted through milk became less frequent, USA Today mentioned.

While misconceptions surrounding the procedure have led some to believe that pasteurized milk is less nutritious or more favorable for individuals with lactose intolerance, pasteurization does not significantly diminish the nutritional value or composition of milk. In certain states, vending raw milk directly to consumers is even unlawful.

What are the repercussions of consuming unprocessed dairy?

Raw milk can harbor an array of harmful microorganisms, including:


E. coli

Listeria monocytogenes


Coxiella burnetti


Yersinia enterocolitica

Staph aureus

Other pathogens causing foodborne illnesses

The presence of these pathogens can lead to various health maladies, including:


Typhoid fever



Q fever


Food poisoning


Guillain-Barre syndrome

Hemolytic uremic syndrome

Reactive arthritis

Chronic inflammatory diseases


Why are certain social media users advocating for unpasteurized milk and dairy?

Marginal concepts related to health, well-being, and nutrition have gained traction and popularity through social media platforms, USA Today highlighted. 

Visual Representation | Credits: AP Photo

On TikTok, numerous homesteading, “tradwife,” “all-natural,” and other self-professed wellness influencers endorse the consumption of raw milk, positing that minimal intervention in their food is preferable.

Some assert that they have consumed it for years without adverse effects, that it has alleviated their lactose intolerance and other health issues, or that raw milk contains essential nutrients and components eradicated by pasteurization.

Others view it as a method to circumvent what they perceive as excessive governmental oversight on their food and beverages.

Even notable figures like Gwyneth Paltrow, who has faced criticism for her remarks on nutrition previously, have advocated for raw milk consumption, the reports by USA Today claimed.

Why? Some individuals may be misinformed, swayed by anecdotal evidence, or believe they are aiding others. Some express a general distrust of governmental regulations concerning food, while others seek to promote products after disseminating misinformation, promoting them at the conclusion of their videos or in their bios.

As it stands, consuming unpasteurized milk and dairy can easily result in many of the aforementioned illnesses. The proliferation of avian flu is certainly not the sole reason to ensure one is consuming properly treated milk, but it is yet another factor to consider when making decisions regarding food safety.

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