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12 December 2014

Beware the risks of consuming raw cows’ milk

Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurised (heat treated) to kill bacteria and other organisms that might be harmful to humans.

However raw milk products are promoted for cosmetic purposes such as 'bath milk' and are clearly marked as not intended for human consumption. 

Executive Director of Public Health Professor Tarun Weeramanthri said there are serious health risks associated with the consumption of raw milk, including an increased risk of acquiring a gastrointestinal illness.

"There are a number of bacterial organisms and parasites that can reside in raw milk including Listeria, Staphylococcus aureus, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Cryptosporidium, and toxin producing E-coli.

"If a person consumes raw milk that contains any of these organisms the consequences can range from diarrhoea and vomiting through to life threatening illnesses such as listeriosis and haemolytic uraemic syndrome which can lead to kidney failure and death," Professor Weeramanthri said.

"If a person consumes raw milk and develops symptoms of gastroenteritis, including fever, diarrhoea and vomiting, he or she should contact their family GP or attend a hospital emergency department for investigation and treatment."  

In Western Australia the sale of raw cows' milk for human consumption is not permitted under the WA Food Act 2008.

Failure to comply with the Act can attract a penalty of $50,000 for individuals and $250,000 for organisations.

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