Madisonville — An East Tennessee dairy farmer says raw milk can be risky, but should be safe if you take the right precautions.
A series of E. coli infections put several children in the hospital this week.
The Knox County Health Department says most of the children that are sick drank raw milk from French Broad Farm in Knoxville.
It's recommending you throw away all unpasteurized products from that farm.
"Pasteurization kills the harmful bacteria in the milk," Dr. Lew Strickland said.
Strickland is with UT Animal Science. He says the CDC recommends against raw milk because there's a chance harmful bacteria like E. coli is in it.
"That is whole idea of the pasteurization process, is it kills the bacteria that is a danger to you when you consume the milk," Strickland said.
The health department says roughly 1,800 bacteria can fit on the head of a pin, and it only takes about 10 to make you sick.
But, local farmers say raw milk done right won't make you sick.
Suzanne Thompson's biggest goal at Echo Valley Farm is keeping her farm's milk safe.
"Specifically, here, we have dietary practices that we implement and are very strict about," Thompson said.
She makes sure the cow eats good food, and the way farmers take milk from the cow is very clean.
Raw milk isn't pasteurized, so all the natural bacteria in it stays.
"There's a method of thought that says that there's beneficial bacteria and enzymes in milk that is help to its consumer," Thompson said.
But she says if farmers aren't careful, it can lead to people getting sick--like the children at East Tennessee Children's Hospital infected by E. coli.
Children's hospital says no children should consume raw milk or raw milk products from anywhere, not just that specific farm.
The Knox County Health Department says most of the children drank raw milk from French Broad Farm, a local cow-share in Knoxville.
Owner Earl Cruze says there are more tests to be done that would prove his cows caused the sickness, not something else.
Until then, he says he won't comment further.
Strickland says kids who get around animals should always wash their hands afterward.
Sometimes, E. coli can be on the animal, which can make them sick.