Before pasteurization, the process of heating and cooling milk to extreme temperatures, was used at the end of the 19th century, people all over the globe drank milk coming straight from cows. However, the use of pasteurization was necessary when cows where contaminated and the handling of milk was unsanitary. But is it necessary to consume pasteurized milk even if the conditions of raising cows were healthy?
Pasteurization almost guarantees the destruction of all health threatening bacteria and kills the bacteria that spoil milk as the FDA states. Hence, diseases like typhoid fever, polio, salmonellosis, tuberculosis, scarlet fever, diphtheria and strep throat can be avoided by pasteurizing milk. The lack of bacteria also prolongs the shelf life of milk.
Opinions against pasteurizing milk say the exposure of milk to extreme temperatures reduces its vitamin content including vitamins C, B12 and B6, denatures proteins like enzymes and destroys beneficial bacteria. This in its turn reduces the benefit of milk and causes growth problems, osteoporosis and tooth decay. In addition, calves cannot be fed with pasteurized milk or else they die promptly before they mature.
Pro-pasteurization opinions respond to these claims by saying that we don’t need the animal enzymes present in milk to metabolize the calcium in the milk. Moreover, loss of nutrients like folate, thiamine, riboflavin, B-12 and other vitamins due to pasteurization is minimal. Hence, you can still get a lot of the nutritional value of milk after this process.
If you want to get the full benefit of raw milk that is not pasteurized, you have to make sure that you get it fresh from a clean source. This is possible by buying milk straight from a farm retail store or by buying a share in a “leased” cow to get its milk as long as you want. Just take care that raw milk must be consumed directly or it will spoil.