Raw milk: Turning the clock back on science

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The raw milk debate has been raging throughout the U.S. in various states and counties for several years. Proponents says can cure about every ailment known to man, woman or child, but opponents of raw milk advise consumers about the food safety issues with raw, unpasteurized milk and potential deadly pathogens that can lurk within unpasteurized milk.

In an excellent commentary in the April 13 Milford Daily News, Milford, Mass., veterinarian Richard Lerner discusses raw milk in the context of a local dairy farmer who was ordered last week to stop selling raw milk after tests revealed high levels of bacteria. The MetroWest Daily News says the milk, from Eastleigh Farm had 15 times the allowable limit of coliform, according to a cease-and-desist order that was in effect last week.

In his commentary, Lerner notes that the rhetoric around raw milk is heated.  “The reason that those involved in public health get so bent out of shape about raw milk is twofold: 1) It turns the clock back on science, on proven methods for reducing foodborne illness, and 2) due to the vociferous, combative nature of its proponents, we are required to spend time on a food item that is (fortunately) consumed by a minuscule portion of the population,” he said in the article.

Lerner goes on to say that regarding food safety,  “Currently, there is no such thing as ‘food rights.’ You have no more right to buy raw milk at the grocery store than you have the right to eat in a restaurant that has been closed by the Department of Public Health,” and “Comparing one food to another in terms of risk is spurious. Foods are prepared and consumed differently, and comparing raw milk to beef, chicken, bean sprouts, or gummy bears is useless. The government has never told anyone that he or she can't drink raw milk. What the government has said is that it has the right to regulate commerce in raw milk, the same as it has the right to regulate commerce in tobacco, pork, and gummy bears.”

Bovine Veterinarian has written many articles on raw milk and the dangers of it (see one here). The FDA has stated that raw milk can contain the following dangerous pathogens:

  • Enterotoxigenic Staphylococcus aureus
  • Campylobacter jejuni
  • Salmonella species
  • E. coli (EHEC) (ETEC)
  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Mycobacterium bovis
  • Brucella species (abortus –cattle) (melitensis- goats)
  • Coxiella burnetii
  • Yersinia enterocolitica

If adults want to risk their health by consuming raw milk, it’ll be hard to stop them whether legislated or not, but foisting a potentially dangerous substance with unproven benefits on children, and exposing them to potentially life-threatening pathogens, is just irresponsible.  

There is an excellent Web site that discusses the facts about raw milk, Real Raw Milk Facts, and contains Q&As and scientific information on raw milk, as well as videos of families from across the country who have dealt with devastating illnesses as a result of raw milk  consumption. Arm yourself with the facts so that you can talk to your clients and consumers about the dangers of raw milk. 

 



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dan    
calgary  |  April, 15, 2011 at 12:11 PM

The article i just read about raw milk is full of disinformation. If raw milk were bad for human consumption .Humans would not have been drinking from before recorded time. Also what about human mothers breast milk is that dangerous now.That is also what you call raw milk . The problem comes in when men start tampering with nature for profit. Fro example feeding cows and other animals genetically modified corn soy,wheat and other grains not to mention road kill donuts and chocolate etc and expect the animals to produce milk that if safe. Have to really wonder about the agenda of the web site you mention (real raw milk facts)

Jenn    
Denver  |  April, 18, 2011 at 12:28 PM

http://www.boston.com/yourtown/news/framingham/2011/04/eastleigh_farm_selling_raw_mil.html So, their one example of what's "not safe" has proven to be safe and legal in MA. In California where they have requirements on the various bacteria allowable in Raw and Pasteurized milk. On every single different kind of bacteria the allowable ppm for pasteurized milk - after pasteurization is higher than what's allowed in the raw milk. This is the same in other states that require testing on both raw and pasteurized milk. So, actually the raw milk has less bacteria. For a small, family owned, raw milk dairy that feeds cows on grass only and practices safe sanitation practices, the cows are healthier, the milk is more beneficial, and the cows actually are "happy." They're not shunted through their own piles of stinking crap all day to get food and get to the milking room. I've been to "traditional" dairies. Many of them. I've been to many grass fed, raw, dairies. You can smell the difference.

Janet    
California  |  April, 18, 2011 at 05:24 PM

Amazing how many people forget the numbers of people with tuberculosis and other diseases in the old days. It is easy to forget those things when you are living in a relatively disease-free modern enviroment. Modern dairy science has made milk-producing a lot safer. Nothing is foolproof, but it is a lot healthier than it used to be.

Ann    
Canada  |  April, 19, 2011 at 11:27 AM

Tuberculosis and other related diseases became a problem when greedy people trying to maximize profit said lets feed cows distillery swill grains(Waste product of breweries)along with dirty sewer water in the western world urban places.This is the facts.Interesting how they also fed alcohol to native populations everywhere to destroy them with the same type of sickness. It may help those who are ignorant and have forgotten the true milk history to read the research of men like Dr Weston A Price before making ill informed comments.His work documents greedy corporations have robbed people of health to justify money making science.Does not matter what these greedy science merchants say they do not know better than mother nature.Because these people now run the world it is being turned into a cesspool of sickness and corruption.These people create the problems to justify to the money making so called solutions they now call science.How long before people wake up to to this system of tricks.

Foodnazi    
Indianapolis  |  May, 17, 2011 at 09:38 AM

Holy cats. Just read the comments below. I guess we should just go ahead and let ignorant people eat contaminated food. Darwin's principles will apply and therein the weakest will not survive. I am a huge proponent of organic food and am vigourously opposed to CAFOs. Know what those are, folks? However I also have a degree in biology and am well educated and employed in food safety for many years. Those bacteria listed in the above article are not a figment of the author's imagination, they are not invented as a way to futher the dairy industry, and yes, they will sicken and possibly kill you. Whether you choose to believe this or not is up to you. The government is not out "to get" you, in the instance of food regulation, it is trying to protect the public from its own ignorance of these diseases and practices, and it is trying to prevent unscrupulous business owners from making a profit by poisoning you. All you have to do is look to China, which in the last few years has many instances of knowingly tainting both animal and people food with toxic substances for profit. This is because there is NO government regulation of the food industry there. So go ahead and drink your unpasteurized milk. Fewer ignoramuses for the rest of us to live with I guess.


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