Some people prefer unpasteurized — or raw — milk and milk products, believing they offer more nutrients, cause fewer allergies and promote health.

Yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that unpasteurized milk is 150 times more likely to cause foodborne illness than pasteurized milk — and 13 times more likely to lead to hospitalization. 

“A little processing goes a long way in preventing the illnesses associated with raw milk,” says Erin Rossi, RD, LD. “Pasteurizing milk — heating it to 161 degrees for just 20 seconds — kills any and all bacteria.”

It’s been more than 120 years since Louis Pasteur came up with this fail-safe process for killing the bacteria raw milk can harbor, including Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria.

Who’s most at risk of illness

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