Forum offers facts on raw food for people, pets

April 5, 2013
raw egg

URBANA - Got unpasteurized milk? Before pasteurization was introduced in 1864, all milk was consumed in its raw form. Today the sale of unpasteurized milk is illegal in many states because raw milk contains pathogens, yet some people attribute health benefits to raw milk.

Feeding a diet of raw meat to cats and dogs seems to be a growing trend among pet owners, but does that too pose risks?

Find out the facts associated with raw diets for people and pets from a panel of experts at a free community forum entitled “The Raw Facts: Food Fads, Fears, Fables, and Safety,” to be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16, at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, 2001 S. Lincoln Ave., Urbana. This forum, the third in a spring 2013 series entitled “One Health & You: News You Can Use,” will be repeated on April 17 at Brookfield Zoo in the Chicago suburbs.

The series is organized by the veterinary college's Center for One Health Illinois.

During the first hour, four panelists will give brief presentations covering health aspects of raw diets for people and pets, unpasteurized dairy products, and food safety regulations.


  • Dr. Michael Miller, University of Illinois Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition: Nutrition and safety
  • Steve DiVincenzo, Dairy Program Manager/Director, Illinois Department of Public Health: Laws and Safety
  • Dr. Jen Burton, University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine: Benefits of Raw foods
  • Dr. Yvette Johnson-Walker, University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine: Epidemiology of dairy outbreaks

The second hour of the evening will be devoted to questions from the audience.

The final public forum in the series will be:

  • Of Pugs, Pigs, and Pandas: Animal Welfare at Home, Farm, Lab and Zoo, May 21, Urbana

 It will be repeated at the Brookfield Zoo on May 22.

“The purpose of the lecture series is to provide the general public with reliable information and to clear up misconceptions,” says Dr. Jack Herrmann, one of the directors of the Center for One Health Illinois and an organizer of the series.

“The series also calls attention to the way human, animal, and environmental health are interrelated,” says Dr. Herrmann. “Raw-meat diets for cats were recently studied by animal scientists from the U of I, who found that these diets may put cats at an increased risk of pathogens and nutrient imbalances. Pet health may affect human health, so it’s important that veterinarians, physicians, and public health experts work together."

More information is available online at

Organizations co-sponsoring the Urbana series include the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District and several units on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus, including the College of Medicine, the Illinois Natural History Survey, the Global Health Initiative, and McKinley Health Center.

Media sponsorship is provided by the News-Gazette and WDWS.

 About the Center for One Health Illinois
The philosophy of “one health” recognizes the interdependence of the health and well-being of the human population, wild and domestic animals, and the natural environment. The Center for One Health Illinois was established at the College of Veterinary Medicine in 2010 as a way to allow the college's expertise in environmental health, conservation medicine, and infectious diseases to inform and improve public policy and public health.

The Center focuses on research, training, and outreach efforts in three related areas:

  • improving preparedness and response to natural and intentional exposures of biological, chemical, and physical agents; ensuring safe and sustainable food production systems
  • understanding disease processes that occur at the interface of human and animal activities and their effects on the environment; and
  • educating health professionals who understand factors for human, animal and ecosystem health, how public health policy is developed, and how it affects the health of all three.

 More information can be found at

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