Before I go into this topic, I think I should give a little background about myself. I was raised on raw milk. In fact I was known for bringing raw milk from the farm to college for my first year there. I had a difficult time adapting to milk that was not as thick or creamy as raw milk. BUT, I did in fact adapt to drinking pasteurized milk and drink about 1-1.5 gallons each week. I can also confess that I do occasionally drink raw milk from our own tank at our farm, but I really don't need over 3.5% fat milk, but I would prefer 1% fat for my health. The reason while I feel safe drinking milk from my own tank is that I live and work in the same environment as my cows. I am exposed to the same bacteria, good or bad, as my cows. I believe that this exposure makes it possible to drink my raw milk without incident of illness, however I would NEVER serve my milk to someone not from my farm. I believe that they should be drinking pasteurized milk. When I drink raw milk I take a risk, there is probably a one in a million chance that I could get a bacteria that would harm me. BUT I would never allow another to take that risk, pasteurization is insurance that harmful bacteria are not present in our precious milk. There is no proven health difference between pasteurized and raw milks. Safety first. We don't eat meat without cooking it completely, or fruits and vegetables without washing them, why would we drink milk without pasteurization?
Recently a dairy farmer in Minnesota was associated with an e-coli breakout, resulting in 5 ill children, 3 of which were hospitalized. This farmer was selling his milk to many families, some with children who are most at risk for illness. Today, this farmer had a press release where he denounced his link to this outbreak, even though Minnesota Department of Health Officials have found e-coli on the farm and in a sample of cheese from the farm. I am sure this farmer never intended for others to get ill, but the fact is that someone did. Raw milk consumption is dangerous. Midwest Dairy Association has an excellent link describing why raw milk is dangerous. Also a great resource is the FoodSafety web site by the USDA, which highlights myths about raw milk that are false. Claims that raw milk will reduce lactose allergies, help fight pathogens, or help digestive disorders are all false.
So if you drink raw milk, please consider pasteurization for your safety...whether organic or conventional milk, just make sure it is pasteurized for your safety.