Is pasteurized milk actually safer?

Allergies: how milk affects our bodies

Officially, tuberculosis no longer exists in Germany; it has been considered extinct for 16 years. But now it is suddenly back. In Hemslingen, Lower Saxony, a farmer recently fell ill with the dangerous lung disease. He was infected by consuming raw milk from his own cows.

There is no risk of a new tuberculosis epidemic, but the case shows impressively how important industrial milk processing is for public disease prevention. But there are also skeptical voices. You see in modern dairy technology not only the adulteration of a natural product, but also a health risk.

In the mid-1980s, Danish parents discovered that their children were only allergic to milk that was processed by dairy technology, but not to untreated milk. Scientists from the Scandinavian country took this as an opportunity to carry out corresponding studies on laboratory mice.

Homogenized milk as an allergy trigger?

It was found that homogenized milk caused the animals to react significantly more allergic. Australian researchers confirmed these results in the late 1990s, and another study showed that children who drank untreated farm milk were less likely to develop asthma and hay fever.

Since then, the thesis has been circulating, especially in internet forums, according to which the increase in milk allergies in recent decades - currently two to three percent of children are affected - can be explained by the fact that the cow product is mostly consumed in a homogenized form in this country. Parents should therefore ensure that they only buy unprocessed milk from traditional small farms.

Manfred Huss from the Hohenheim University Research Dairy, however, considers such statements to be exaggerated: "There is no evidence that the introduction of homogenization has actually increased the number of people allergic to milk." Mice are by nature not classic milk drinkers.

Raw milk could train the immune system

And if “farm milk” drinkers suffer from allergies less often, this could also be due to the fact that their immune system is better adjusted due to the increased germ content of the raw milk and shows fewer excessive reactions. "Then the homogenized milk would not be the allergy problem, but the untreated milk would be a training stimulus for the immune system, which at the same time means a considerable risk of infection," says Huss.