Q.: I recently discovered that one of my favourite (Camphill) yoghurts is not pasteurised. I generally don’t eat much dairy but find that I benefit from eating high-quality alive yoghurt. Is eating unpasteurised yoghurt or labaneh safe? Surely one needs to heat milk to clear it from any ‘nasties’. I some- times make yoghurt at home and heat raw milk to a gentle rolling boil, before letting it cool to the right temperature to add probiotic culture. How would one make yoghurt with- out heating it? I am all for eating lots of raw vegetarian food but feel this is maybe taking it too far. Please shed some light on my apparent ignorance, thanks. Lauren
HANNAH KAYE ANSWERS:
Thanks for your question regarding raw milk and raw milk products. The raw milk movement is gaining momentum all over the world and there is plenty information available on the website of the Weston A Price Foundation. Proponents of this movement argue that raw milk, from free-range cows, is much higher in immune compounds and enzymes than pasteurised milk. It is also proposed that heating milk supports the growth of harmful bacteria by inactivating factors that inhibit bacterial growth. There has also been some research to suggest that infants and children fed raw milk have lower rates of asthma and hay fever than children fed pasteurised milk. In addition to this, some children with casein sensitivity may tolerate raw milk because of the enzymes it contains, according to Weston A Price. Heating raw milk so that it boils is thought to have a negative impact on its health benefits.
However, if you are considering drinking or using raw milk products, it is absolutely essential to know the source. Milk is pasteurised to make it safe for human consumption and, in South Africa, much of the raw milk is sold in rural areas and comes from small holdings that may not have the facilities to ensure that the milk is safe. It is absolutely essential that farms selling raw milk, legally, test their cows for common diseases including TB and that the milk must be produced under sanitary conditions and placed into cold storage immediately.
Cultured dairy products tend to be safer than non-cultured products and are higher in immune compounds. Camphill is a well-known organic dairy and we can be fairly certain that they have stringent controls in place to keep check on the quality of their products, even if some are unpasteurised. Whilst the milk used in your yoghurt may not have been heated to the point of pasteurisation, it will still have been heated and cultured in a warm environment.