This story was about a concerning trend in consumer use of unpasteurized milk. As with other potentially functional foods, there are health claims made about the product which have no supporting evidence. The real issue which should have been reported on is the potential for harm associated with consumption of raw milk. The story does not do this justice, and would have been substantially strengthened by a deeper discussion (with experts) about the health risks of unpasteurized milk.
Although the story did not contain specific price details, it did mention that the farmers can sell raw-milk and raw-milk products at a ‘thick premium’ from which the reader could gather that the costs would be more than milk which has been pasteurized.
The story mentioned a number of health claims so-called ‘fans’ of raw milk postulate can be derived through the use of raw milk. (The story also included comments from the FDA in which these claims were refuted.) It should have included some critical examination of the health claims made.
The story mentioned safety concerns associated with consumption of raw milk, especially by individuals who may have heightened vulnerability. (The story also included comments from people who are fans of raw milk who claim these concerns are overblown.) However, this is one area where this story could have been improved. Raw milk has the potential to make people quite ill, especially children (which was mentioned in the story) but also pregnant women, those whose immunity is compromised as well as the general public. It should have included more information about infection rates among people consuming raw milk.
The story contained the arguments raised by those opposed to and in favor of increasing availability of raw milk. It included a link to a site that refutes the information put forth by the FDA and mentions some of the epidemiology evidence linking raw milk with increased disease risk. The story really only provided anecdotal evidence from one woman who stated that she had more health problems the previous year when she did not drink raw milk. It should have included some framework for understanding the fallacy of using this type of information as the basis for health decision making.
The story did not engage in overt disease mongering.
The story has quotes from ‘fans’ of raw milk, a scientist with expertise in food safety, and material from the FDA.
Beyond mention of raw milk and pasteurized milk, the story mentioned that two states (Washington and Maine) which permit raw milk to be sold but hold it to the same standard for bacteria counts as pasteurized milk.
While the story did not list the states by name, it did mention that six states allow the sale of raw milk in stores and that 28 states allow the sale of raw milk on the farms where it is produced.
The story mentioned that the FDA requirements about the sale and distribution of raw milk date back to 1987.
Given multiple sources, there is no evidence the story relied solely or largely on a news release.