University of Vermont

Cultivating Healthy Communities

Research Project

Exploring perceptions of health, risk and trust pertaining to raw milk consumption in Vermont

Glass of Milk

About the Project

This research consisted of individual interviews with raw milk consumers and food and health experts in Vermont. Public health officials advise against the consumption of raw, unpasteurized milk because of increased risk of pathogenic bacterial contamination. Meaningful differences in nutritional value between pasteurized and unpasteurized milk and other purported benefits of raw milk consumption have not been substantiated. Thus far, raw milk consumers have not been represented in the literature. This project sought to involve consumers, and to identify emergent themes of perceptions of health, risk, and trust related to their beliefs about raw milk.

Research Team

Research Date

April, 2013


Kayla was a graduating senior honors student in UVM's Nutrition and Food Sciences program. Her project was also supported by the Center for Sustainable Agriculture.


Both consumers and food and health experts highly value health in their family's lives and for consumers the inclusion of raw milk in their diet promotes health while reducing negative health outcomes. Individual discussion of the interview questions revealed that consumers and food and health experts prioritize food safety topics differently, and these values result in differences in their food purchasing decisions and perceived food-related health risks. The disconnect between risk perceptions of consumers and expert populations has been widely acknowledged. The acknowledgement of similar values related to health between the two populations might have the potential to positively and effectively inform and advance the raw milk debate.

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Last modified October 31 2013 11:07 AM