Your Milk is Too Clean!


"Your milk is too clean!"  Yes, I've actually been told this.  Many raw milk enthusiasts think a certain amount of bacteria in the milk makes it healthier for people, and that's what we should be selling.  I disagree.

Milk in the udder is sterile.  The bacteria comes from the interaction of the milk and the environment.  All mammals ingest environmental bacteria with the milk and this is how the body's immune system gets some of it's first exposure to the world in which it will be operating.  Normal amounts of environmental bacteria hone and strengthen the immune system.

I think these normal amounts are relatively low.    Animals in nature are typically quite clean.  Have you ever seen a manure-caked deer?  My cows are naturally clean, so, being a habitual experimenter, of course I tested this.  I have taken a cow on a typical day, done no cleaning of the udder or teats, milked her, and tested this milk.  Each time, I have gotten less than 2500 CFU/ml.  This is very clean milk.

In nature, even if the animal gets dirty, the milk only encounters that bacteria for a second or so before being swallowed and entering the digestive system.  It does not sit around kn the milk for any lengthof time, multiplying..

The body needs to ingest "bad" bacteria for honing and strengthening immunity.  The key, I think, is to be ingesting it routinely and from a variety of environmental sources to get lots of different types of it.

Natural bacteria levels aside, the other problem with higher bacteria counts is the question mark this leaves everywhere it shows up.  The milk just doesn't taste that good.  So every time someone gets a little tummy ache (or a headache, a hiccup, or a funny thought), they wonder, "was it the milk"?  The producer, too, must wonder when the counts are high.

If we want raw milk to be unquestionably accepted, we need to make it unquestionable.

If you really believe you must ingest more bacteria, by all means, do so!  Work in the garden and eat without washing your hands.  Get rid of the antibacterial soap.  Get a pet.  All these things will add more variety and more regular exposure to bacteria, which is the best thing for you.

As for the milk, let's make it so clean and tasty no one would ever wonder.