Raw whole milk, or "real milk" as advocates call it, has not been pasteurized, a heating process that kills bacteria responsible for several infectious diseases and lengthens shelf life. Nor has it been homogenized, a sort of straining process, that breaks up the cream and prevents it from floating to the top of the milk.
Some raw milk drinkers have made the switch saying they want to avoid the growth hormones associated with commercial cows and milk. Others who are lactose-intolerant say they are able to better digest raw milk because it still contains the natural enzymes and beneficial bacteria usually killed during pasteurization. Others simply prefer the richer taste, as raw whole milk contains about 4 percent butterfat.
Utah is one of about 28 states that allow the sale of raw milk for human consumption, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. Only three states, California, Connecticut and New Mexico, allow raw milk to be sold in stores. In Utah, consumers can only buy raw milk at a certified dairy where it is produced and bottled.
According to the Utah Department of Health, the most common diseases associated with raw milk are salmonellosis, E. coli and campylobacteriosis. These bacterial infections can cause diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramps and vomiting.
Marilee Poulsen, an epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health, was quoted as saying, "Pasteurization is the only way to completely eliminate those risks, especially for those with compromised immune systems."