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Andrea Austria / Media Matters

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Far-right figures are promoting raw milk amid bird flu outbreak in dairy cows

The CDC and FDA have long warned that consuming unpasteurized milk poses serious health risks

Far-right media figures are promoting the purported health benefits of raw, unpasteurized milk even though the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that it could cause serious illness and even death. Some of those figures championed raw milk, calling it “real milk,” claiming it could “reverse serious health issues,” and accusing the government of attempting to keep it away from people. 

  • Even as the FDA and CDC doubled down on warnings against consuming raw milk due to a recent outbreak of bird flu, social media users continue to laud its supposed health benefits

    • A recent outbreak of H5N1, or “bird flu,” has been identified in dairy cows in multiple states. H5N1 has since spread to at least one person — just the second human case reported in the U.S. -- and last week, several cats in Texas died after reportedly testing positive for bird flu after drinking raw milk on a dairy farm. According to the FDA, “there continues to be no concern that this circumstance poses a risk to consumer health … because products are pasteurized before entering the market.” [NBC, 5/3/24; CBS, 4/30/24; CDC, accessed 5/6/24, 5/8/24; FDA, accessed 5/8/24]
    • The CDC and FDA have long warned against drinking raw milk and unpasteurized dairy and have renewed those warnings in light of the recent bird flu outbreak. The CDC’s website calls raw milk one of the “riskiest foods” to consume because it can contain “harmful germs, such as Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, E. coli, Listeria, Brucella, and Salmonella.” “These bacteria can seriously injure the health of anyone who drinks raw milk or eats products made from raw milk,” the FDA’s website reads. [FDA, 3/5/24; CDC, accessed, 5/7/24
    • Social media influencers have been promoting raw milk and touting its supposed health benefits. A Media Matters analysis found over 13,000 posts on TikTok that included the hashtag #rawmilk. The first 581 videos from the “top” tab shown under a search “#rawmilk” had accumulated over 231 million views as of May 3. Instagram Reels promoting raw milk have also been plentiful, with one of the top reels encouraging pregnant women to drink raw milk even though consuming unpasteurized milk is particularly risky for pregnant women. [Media Matters, 5/3/24; Mother Jones, 5/3/24]
  • Far-right media figures have promoted the consumption of raw milk and fearmongered that the government doesn’t want Americans to reap its benefits

    • Infowars host Owen Shroyer claimed that warnings against consuming raw milk were part of a ploy by the FDA — which he called a “gangster mafia” — and “Big Milk” to “make raw milk illegal” and “crack down on raw foods.” “So now that more people are going to local farms and farmers' markets, and consuming raw milk, this angers the FDA. This angers Big Milk,” Shroyer said. He went on, “Say, ‘No, you need to pasteurize milk, it’s a lot less healthy for you.’ See eventually, they’ll just make it illegal. They'll just make raw milk illegal. That’s what this is all about.” Shroyer also claimed, that “they'll probably do a couple more scares like this” in order to “crack down on raw foods,” adding, “They don't want you consuming anything that doesn't go through the FDA.” [Infowars, War Room with Owen Shroyer4/29/24]
    • Infowars guest Clint Rarey, owner of raw milk producer Fafo Farms, said he preferred to call raw milk “real milk” because “you’re not killing out all the bacteria that you need to be consuming from it — it’s actually real food that hasn’t been altered or genetically modified.” “It really does make such a difference in your health,” Shroyer said in response. “Most people that switch to real food — we won’t call it ‘raw,’ we’ll call it ‘real food’ — most people when they make that switch they notice, I mean, they notice quickly. I certainly did.” [Infowars, War Room with Owen Shroyer4/26/24]
  • Video file

    Citation From the April 26, 2024, edition of Infowars' War Room with Owen Shroyer 

    • Infowars guest host Chase Geiser: “Everyone is figuring out that raw milk is actually better for you.” He added, “It tastes amazing, it tastes like melted ice cream.” [Infowars, The Alex Jones Show, 4/24/24]
    • QAnon supporter and former Republican U.S. Senate candidate Lauren Witzke: “Imagine drinking delicious raw milk every day of your life and then entering society, only to be offered to pay for an overpriced glass of ‘cashew milk’ in a margarita glass.” She added, “It really is just insane if you think about it.” [Gab, 4/18/24; The Independent, 9/16/20]
    • QAnon influencer Jordan Sather baselessly claimed that “Pasteurized Milk has never really been healthy to drink.” “Only milk I drink is Raw Milk from local organic farms,” he added. [Telegram, 4/27/24; Media Matters, 8/20/19]
    • Gab CEO Andrew Torba: “Raw milk + heavy metal detox with herbal tinctures= I do not have seasonal allergies for the first time ever this season.” [Gab, 4/30/24]
    • Right-wing media outlet TheBlaze published an article titled “Blaze News Investigates: The truth about raw milk the government doesn't want you to know: ‘Close to a perfect food.'” “Unfortunately, the potential benefits of raw dairy are a secret to most Americans,” the article claimed, adding that “the so-called ‘experts’ are not telling you the full story.” [The Blaze, 4/17/24]
    • Far-right Rumble host Stew Peters, who has a history of pushing dangerous conspiracy theories, claimed that raw milk and other foods produced “outside of corporate environments” have “the ability to improve our health” and also “in some cases, reverse serious health issues.” According to Peters, “Raw milk, grass-fed, organic meat, and other foods produced the way that food has been produced for thousands of years, outside of corporate environments, have been shown time and time again to not just have the ability to improve our health, but even in some cases to reverse serious health issues that are induced or exacerbated by our disgusting, poisonous food supply.” [Rumble, The Stew Peters Show, 3/8/24; Media Matters, 3/13/23]
  • Correction (5/10/24): Language in this piece has been revised to reflect that Infowars’ Owen Shroyer was not convicted but in fact pleaded guilty to one count of violating 18 U.S.C. 1752(a)(1): “Whoever— knowingly enters or remains in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so.”