Drinking unpasteurised milk – risky and illegal

Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurised to kill bacteria that could be harmful to humans.

No matter how carefully it has been produced, raw milk may be unsafe.

In Australia, the sale of raw cow’s milk for human consumption is illegal. In Victoria it is also illegal to package, deliver or provide raw milk for consumption.

It is important that consumers understand the risks associated with drinking raw milk and balance this risk against the claimed ‘benefits’. Everyone is vulnerable to illness caused by the organisms present in raw milk, but the risks are even greater for young children and for the elderly, those with underlying health problems, compromised immunity or pregnant.

If you drink raw milk it increases your risk of acquiring various gastrointestinal illnesses, including those caused by microorganisms (bacteria, bugs, or germs ) such as:

  • Salmonella spp.
  • pathogenic E. coli
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Campylobacter jejuni and
  • Listeria monocytogenes.

Consumers exposed to these organisms may experience symptoms which can range from mild discomfort (diarrhoea and vomiting) to life-threatening illnesses such as listeriosis or haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) which can result in renal failure in otherwise healthy people.

In recent years, there have been deaths in children from HUS a direct result of consuming raw milk.

Page last updated: Friday, 31 July 2020