Raw milk: Separating fact from fiction

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As the Indiana legislature mulls legalizing raw milk sales, Purdue University is setting the record straight and debunks popular myths surrounding the unpasteurized product. The report, “Raw Milk FAQs,” answers 18 common questions about both pasteurized and unpasteurized milk, including why pasteurization is used, whether it alters milk, and the risks associated with unpasteurized milk.

"Diseases that can be transmitted through raw milk include listeriosis, campylobacter and streptococcus, to name a few," says Mike Schutz, extension dairy specialist, in a university article. "These illnesses can be very serious or fatal. Pasteurization can reduce the pathogen load in milk to make it safer for human consumption. In fact, pasteurization probably is the one practice that has done the most to reduce the spread of tuberculosis from animals to humans."

The report also points that disease outbreaks are 150 times more likely for raw milk than pasteurized milk. From 1993 to 2006, there were 73 disease outbreaks linked to raw dairy products, which resulted in 1,571 cases, 202 hospitalizations and two deaths. In 2012 alone, there have been six outbreaks associated with contaminated raw milk, sickening 152 adults and children. Read the Purdue report here.

Even those living on farms are not immune from contracting diseases from contaminated raw milk. In April, an E. coli outbreak in Oregon affected 21 people, including four children from the farm at the center of the outbreak. The mother of another child sickened in the Oregon outbreak spoke with Oregon Public Broadcasting, stressing that “there’s just an inherit risk in feeding your children raw milk that you can’t  ignore." Click here to read more.  

Raw milk sales are legal in 30 states, while others, such as Indiana, currently limit raw milk availability to cow-share programs. Some states have recently opened dialogue to consider legalizing or clarifying laws involving raw milk. In Wyoming, a proposed rule would allow producers who are the sole owners of livestock to serve raw milk in their home to family members, non-paying guests and farm employees. A bill was also introduced in Kentucky in February that would allow consumers to buy into a dairy herd to receive raw milk products legally.

One of the biggest proponents to legalizing raw milk sales is U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who introduced an amendment to the 2012 Farm Bill earlier this year that would allow the direct sale of raw milk and raw dairy products across state lines. Two organizations representing the country’s dairy farmers and dairy food companies responded to Paul’s proposal in a letter available here.

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Colorado Springs  |  November, 27, 2012 at 08:46 PM

The only myths that need debunking is that Dairy Herd Network and Angela Bowman has the slightest concern about their own or anyone else's health, that Dairy Herd Network and Angela Bowman has a clue about how to be healthy, and that Dairy Herd Network and Angela Bowman are not shills for Big Dairy and Big Pharma. We have experience. You have theory. Our experience trumps your theory.

C. Stansberry    
Virginia  |  November, 28, 2012 at 08:43 AM

Actually, the CDC has data. The problem is that your experience is not generalizable to the larger population of the US. Consuming unpasteurized dairy products is like driving without a seat belt. Even though I have never been in a serious auto accident, I still put my seat belt on every time I drive or ride in a car or truck. I do this because studies based on data show that if there is an accident, I will stand a higher chance of surviving and sustaining fewer injuries if I am wearing a seat belt. Likewise with pasteurization; I may have a healthy immune system and some immunity to bacteria on my farm, but what about the highly infectious strain that gets introduced, or the times that my immunity is compromised? More importantly, what about the larger population that has not had an opportunity to develop immunity to the bacteria in raw milk, or who have greater susceptibility to the bacteria for various reasons, or who have no wish to be exposed to the highly infectious strains? Pasteurization helps to protect the public from real hazards that exist in raw dairy products and is a demonstrated excellent public health policy.

Keith Cummins    
Auburn, AL  |  November, 28, 2012 at 08:02 AM

Raw milk has its dangers. I grew up on a dairy farm. I won't drink raw milk from cows I do not control and for which I do not know the health and vaccination history. I am a professor of dairy science, editor (just rotating off) of the Journal of Dairy Science, and grew up on a dairy farm. (Just to give my experience and credentials) The value of pasturization outweighs any proposed benefits of drinking raw milk.

Western NY  |  November, 28, 2012 at 08:58 AM

Way to go, bachcole!

missouri  |  November, 28, 2012 at 09:11 AM

Regardless of which side of the fence you are on with this issue, the significant question is why do we let our government dictate to us as to what we can and cannot consume?

MN  |  November, 28, 2012 at 09:24 AM

Couldn't have said it better Steve.

NY  |  November, 28, 2012 at 09:26 AM

Sage advice from Dr. Cummins. Under no circumstances, would I let my kids drink any beverage (other than water) unpasteurized, milk and juice inclusive. Also great comments from C. Stansberry. Consuming unpasteurized products is a game bacteriological Russian Roulette. I think it is great however that people have the ability to choose, but strongly encourage an informed choice. The science supporting efficacy of pasteurization, along with CDC data, tips the argument firmly on the side of pasteurization. As with many of these discussions, people don't take the time to get informed, and make decisions on a strictly emotional level, supported by pseudo- science and half truths. Unlike other food safety debates however, erring on the wrong side of this argument can have catastrophic results.

Utah  |  November, 28, 2012 at 09:36 AM

While these articles were interesting, there was very little on Pro raw milk. Safety is a matter for all to be concerned about, but I would like to see an article on people that have gotten sick from the milk direct from the stores. How many case of E coli have happened to products bought from the your stores, and places that food has been tampered with. Choices should be allowed to be made. Information needs to be made available, but the consumer should have the last say, they the ones ingesting the product.

Steve Savage    
Encinitas, CA  |  November, 28, 2012 at 10:02 AM

Steve, I've just finished reading Susanne Freidberg's excellent book, "Fresh: A Perishable History" She discusses the history of milk production in great detail. There was a time when infant mortality rates in the US were in the 10-12% range with contaminated milk being one of the main causes of death. I think you can see why something was eventually done on a governmental level. If this was just about people making their own high risk decisions it would be one thing, but since children are a greater risk in makes sense to discourage this as much as possible

Colorado Springs  |  November, 28, 2012 at 10:21 AM

My experience is valid in a free society such that I can decide for myself. Unless we are no longer a free society and we now kowtow to the medical gods. It is a gross violation of my God given rights for some left-brained analytical type (with the emphasis on the first 4 letters of the word "analytical") to sit in his office pouring over data to decide for me what I can eat and what I cannot eat. And when thousands of people say that raw milk (or whatever natural, whole food) helped their child get over asthma or whatever problem, then there is something of value there. Natural foods can NEVER reach the level of certainty with scientific studies that drugs can because NO ONE will fund such expensive studies because NO ONE can patent natural foods. I know, Stansberry, that you are well meaning, otherwise you would not have spent so much time typing such a long post. But you are ignorant of the fact that there is an extreme inherent bias in the system because natural products CAN NEVER BE PATENTED, and so large and rich companies are not interested in them, so the really slick science with the double blind, crossover, randomized tests, that costs at least 10's of millions of dollars are never done on natural products. No will ever prove that drinking a glass of freshly juiced carrot juice every morning is healthful because the study would never get done because it would be so expensive that those doing the study would never get their money back.

Colorado Springs  |  November, 28, 2012 at 10:23 AM

Keith, it doesn't matter whether you think that raw milk is good or bad. What matters is whether you like living in a free society. If you don't like living in a free society, then why don't you move to North Korea and leave my rights alone.

Colorado Springs  |  November, 28, 2012 at 10:32 AM

Right on, Steve. Big Dairy has a lot of money. They use that money to buy politicians. The bought politicians pass laws to protect Big Dairy. Is there something here that people don't understand? Companies love NO competition. When they become rich and powerful, they use their influence in government to eliminate competition. Raw milk is a big threat to Big Dairy. Big Dairy is involved in the greatest act of animal cruelty in the history of the world. Big Dairy doesn't want you to know that; they don't want you to know that milk can be produced humanely and more healthfully. They don't like small farmers cutting into their profits. This is only one issue. The other issue is that our so-called health authorities fancy that killing germs is the only way to help people be healthy. They seem to forget that foods have enzymes and other nutrients that also get killed during the killing of germs. They dismiss these ideas because they are ignoramuses and have never experimented on themselves with whole, organic, and raw foods.

November, 28, 2012 at 10:34 AM

I own and operate a small dairy. I will not sell raw milk for human consumption. Even though our quality control is very good, it is not, nor will ever be, perfect. Neither will anyone else's. I have had many samples analyzed, and even the best samples have some bacteria in them, including staphylococcus, e. coli, klebsiela, psuedomonas. and others. This is not something to risk your life, or someone else's over. We drink our own milk, but we pasteurize it on the stove first. It does not change the flavor or composition if done properly. However, I have an aversion to store bought milk because it tastes terrible. The very high temp and ultra- high temp techniques used by the large milk bottlers changes the taste. I can understand why people prefer the taste of raw milk over pasteurized, but they are foolish to drink it raw.

Colorado Springs  |  November, 28, 2012 at 10:36 AM

The MD after someone's name is not a badge of credibility. It is a badge of shame: 172 years of oppression of all other healing modalities, from chiropractic to optometry to nutrition, and the shame comes from all of the people who died because of MDs oppression, stupidity, and short-sightedness. The MD so-called profession is responsible for far more deaths than all the modern Islamic terrorists all put together, IN ONE YEAR.

Colorado Springs  |  November, 28, 2012 at 10:39 AM

Great, Jeff. I am not trying to force you to drink raw milk. I am just asking you to stop stomping on my right to drink raw milk. And yours is the pseudo-science when it ignores the benefits of consuming whole foods rather than the franken-foods that you delight in and which will cause 99% of the sickness and illness and deaths in your family.

Colorado Springs  |  November, 28, 2012 at 10:42 AM

dustyjim, don't forget the very subtle degradation of health that is the result of consuming franken-foods like pasteurized milk. Since it is not obvious like an outbreak of e-coli, people don't notice.

Colorado Springs  |  November, 28, 2012 at 10:49 AM

Lamar, do those tests test for enzymes or vitamins and other very healthful nutrients? I thought not. But you have a perfect right to not sell it for human consumption and you have a perfect right to heat it for your family.

Act or be Acted Upon    
Idaho  |  November, 28, 2012 at 11:06 AM

Steve, you have cut through all the distractions to the heart of the question. I personally would not drink raw milk, or allow my kids to, because of the risks involved, but that is my choice to do so. I also would stand up and vigorously defend anybody else's choice to drink raw milk if they wish to do so. We will get just as much oppression from our government as we are willing to submit to. It should be none of their business what you or I or our families eat or drink. Likewise, the responsibility of our choices falls squarely upon our own shoulders. We cannot expect the government to rush in and "protect" us if we make poor or risky choices. The only legitimate purpose of government is to protect our God-given rights, which basically means freedom from coercion by others, including government, as long as we are minding our own business. We are all smart enough to review the available information on our food choices and make our own choice without the nanny-state dictating to us what we can and cannot eat or drink, but we also must bear the responsibility of our own choices.

North Carolina  |  November, 28, 2012 at 12:38 PM

Agreed Steve! I want a choice!! Freedom to decide on my own!!

ling the milk tester    
Oregon  |  November, 28, 2012 at 03:04 PM

I dont think government should regulate raw milk consumption, however we are at a point in history and culture where people want money, and are fools when it comes to human nutrition, food choices. And farmers who sell raw milk are taking a huge risk by dealing with consumers who can be clueless about handeling this raw product. However if I want raw milk I want be able to be free to buy it... but I think the raw milk laws help protect farmers and idiot public from ris of illness and death.. I do think thst pasteurization denatures some proteins, etc in the milk but I think that raw milk drinkers forget that the most important benefit of drinking milk is calcium. The risks of drinking raw milk is greater than the minor so called benefits. Even though I myself would drink raw milk, but only from a cow from a dairy that is clean to my standards. So someday I am going to have my own cows...

Colorado Springs  |  November, 28, 2012 at 03:23 PM

Act or be Acted Upon, you don't know what you are talking about. Today's raw milk is not the raw milk of 100 years ago. You are hung up on the label "raw milk", and that is very understandable. But understand that when people are looking for raw milk, they visit the dairies. They ask questions. They insist that the dairies be spotlessly clean and that the cows be grass-fed and free range and treated with loving kindness and that the cows are inspected periodically by independent labs. And that is the only government interference that I would accept.

Highland WI  |  November, 28, 2012 at 03:27 PM

I couldn’t agree more with your take on this. Yes where is the talk on those that got sick from pasteurized milk coming from the stores? Yes it's about safety, human immunity and freedom of choice. I'm 44 and have drank raw milk my entire life and I work also in town around people all the time that are constantly getting sick but I manage to stay well. Also in my family, all my siblings who are not in dairy farming have turned gray by the time they were 30 and I've just started to show gray in my 40's ....what's that tell ya. I fully believe it's the wholesome good raw milk that makes my immune system what it is and of course being out around the elements of the farm. If more people exposed themselves to the elements, building up their immunity early on, they would have a stronger immune system too. It should be a choice especially after full awareness. They do this on cigarettes right..... but people still buy them and smoke away their health now don't they.

NY  |  November, 28, 2012 at 03:45 PM

You have a choice to drink whatever you want- but what choice do these kids have? They aren't the ones choosing to risk their lives to drink unpateurized milk for whatever percieved health benefits they might gain. They're drinking what their parents are giving them and they have no choice.

Mel Fillerup DVM    
Cody Wyoming  |  November, 28, 2012 at 03:50 PM

Having grown up in rural America and consuming raw milk I can as Dr Cummins points out recognize the benifits and dangers of raw milk consumption. Raw milk to be safe in the best of situations has an inherently short shelf life and in my opinin should be consumed within 30 hours to minimize the risks of carefully produced raw milk. This would take raw milk out of the reach of most consumers. Pasteurization makes milk safer for consumption and distribution to a population that is often farther than 24 hours from a safe source of raw milk.

pa  |  November, 28, 2012 at 04:01 PM

A question to those who produce raw milk for sales directly from their farms -- what kind of liability insurance do you have? All it is going to take is one person becoming seriously ill and connecting it to your farm and no matter how sweet and homey your customers seem right now, you're going to be hearing from their lawyer with a suit the likes of which will take your whole farm out from under you!!! The heck with the 'good for you, bad for you' rhetoric, use some business sense about what kind of risk you want to have hanging over your operation.

fla  |  November, 28, 2012 at 04:07 PM

We have consumed our raw milk from our cows for 48 years. This includes my parents,their chidren and grandchildren. I am the only one of the children to stay on the farm and my 4 boys prefer our milk to store bought. The other 4 children & their 13 kids come back to the farm to visit & when they do they drink raw milk. In 48 years no one has gotten sick. Control is the only thing the goverment wants( they can't tax us if they can't control what we sell).

Joe Dairyman    
USA  |  November, 28, 2012 at 04:29 PM

Bachcole you are the dumbest person. You don't know nothing about the dairy industry. You just make stuff up. Your ignorance shows in you comments. If raw milk was so good the industry never would have started Pasteurized milk in the first place. Getting sued will cause you to loose all that you worked hard for. The reason some dairyman are willing to sell raw milk is because they need more income. The current pricing system doesn't make ends meet. People like Bachcole don't know what it takes to produce milk.

ling the DHIA milk tester    
or  |  November, 28, 2012 at 04:54 PM

I do not think consumers are wise enough and have enuff know how and experience to make an informed decision if they r to consume this raw milk when they visit a farm. YOU cannot see bacteria!!! I would rather if ppl want raw milk, get ur own cow.

Colorado Springs  |  November, 28, 2012 at 05:28 PM

Bow-Who, Eden. I notice that you aren't wailing and gnashing your teeth about parents that smoke. The problem here is that people like you are oblivious to the fact that a person can and should build health. And you get 3 colds every year and think that you are healthy. I am 67 years old and I get exactly zero colds every year. I have absolutely no outstanding health issues whatsoever, and I can promise you that this would not be the case if I did not work at it with holistic health and healing. YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT. YOU ARE IGNORANT BECAUSE YOU THINK THAT HEALTH JUST COMES NATURALLY, no matter how much franken-foods you eat. And you even think that people can't do anything about their getting sick and when they do get sick oh gee too bad, its random, they couldn't have helped themselves, perhaps they didn't get to the doctor fast enough.

Pa  |  November, 28, 2012 at 05:28 PM

Raw milk is complete Pasteurized milk is slightly compromised. I believe that ( most ) people are responsible beings. Why is government hung-up on Raw milk? Raw milk "might" hurt you. We must "ban it". NO WAY !!!! Is alcohol banned ?? Is tobacco banned?? Are vehicles that go faster than 20 mph banned?? If I want to drink raw milk, I make the choice. I love raw milk. the flavor is full and rich. So let me have a choice to make. The bigger issue is control. All raw milk sold bypasses the processor and shorts the processor of profit. I think I smell a rat ! Do you?

Joe Dairyman    
USA  |  November, 28, 2012 at 05:29 PM

Most dairy farmers that drink their own milk regularly may not have a problem. Ask someone who has gotten sick from raw milk see what they tell you. It's not worth the risk to sell raw milk it to the public. We continue to read stories of people getting sick from raw milk.

Colorado Springs  |  November, 28, 2012 at 05:47 PM

ling, you make good points that I cannot demolish. But I can set them back. There is plenty of room between shutting down raw milk and just letting anyone sell anything to anyone. And people who respect other people's freedom and rights will try to find a common position. But letting Big Dairy call the shots is letting one competitor use government to shut down another competitor. If Big Dairy (that is closely monitored by consumers and government) can't compete against raw dairies (that are closely monitored by consumers and government) then they shouldn't be allowed to use government to shut down raw dairies. And if most of you people are oblivious to the need and responsibility of taking responsibility for your health, then at least respect my right to do so.

Joe Dairyman    
USA  |  November, 28, 2012 at 06:10 PM

Bachcole!!!! It's a free country go buy a cow. You will have a small dairy your own raw milk. You will have your own monopoly, be self sufficient and you won't have to buy milk from the convenient Big Dairy! Wow isn't freedom wonderfull. Don't catch a cold when you milk the cow in mornings.

WI  |  November, 28, 2012 at 06:13 PM

The labeling and terminology used by bachole is completely sensationalized and slanderous. Calling pasteurized milk a frankenfood...let’s get real. I drink my own whole milk, it tastes great even if it comes from a herd of 500 cows fed stored feeds, but I would never sell it to anybody else. To make a business of selling raw I would need some great insurance, and lots of lab work to document the safety. If I went into the raw milk business I would be tempted to exaggerate the health benefits of the raw product over pasteurized. I would be tempted to imply somehow that pasteurized milk was making people unhealthy. The dairy industry, rank and file, not just big dairy is opposed to raw milk because they know the incidence of bacterial borne illness is many times higher for raw vs. pasteurized. Having the product out there gives milk a bad name. It should be a person’s right to consume raw milk but those marketing it have fought the level of testing and quality control that they should be required to comply with to sell the stuff.

Colorado Springs  |  November, 28, 2012 at 06:30 PM

I can no more buy a cow than regular consumers can check up on whether dairy farmers (and all the other producers of their food) can check up on whether their milk and other foods are being produced properly. Why should I be the one defending your rights? Why aren't you defending your rights. Why are you embracing tyranny? If you like tyranny so much, why don't you move to North Korea and leave me alone.

Colorado Springs  |  November, 28, 2012 at 06:32 PM

When you know how good raw milk (grass-fed, etc.) is compared with pasteurized milk, then you will know that it is franken-.

Merry Dairy Mom    
WI  |  November, 28, 2012 at 08:33 PM

Why would you let your children drink water if you won't let them drink raw milk? I have lived in three states, CA, ID, and WI, where either myself or a member of my immediate family (think kids and husband) contracted Giardia from water. And in CA we were definitely drinking public utility sourced water right out of the tap!!! Raw milk 'issues' result from sanitation situations, mostly storage of the product after leaving the cow. Know your source. Mothers pump raw breast milk for their babies and store it for later use, without pasteurization. We would be fools to suggest that they pasteurize this precious commodity before feeding it to babies in need. The government should not restrict the purchase or sale of this healthy, nutritious food, full of enzymes, healthy fats and so much more!!!

Colorado Springs  |  November, 28, 2012 at 08:36 PM

Merry Dairy Mom, don't underestimate how foolish people can be. And right on with everything that you wrote.

WI  |  November, 28, 2012 at 09:14 PM

If you leave your pasteurized milk out too long it will grow more and more bacteria (reminds me of school milk as a kid). This makes it increasingly dangerous to drink. How the milk is handled after it is milked from the cow is a big part of keeping it safe. Should we sell meat pre-cooked or irradiated to make it safer for consumers? No! We label it and let the consumer decide how to cook or handle it before they use it. This whole argument is ridiculous. And 'ling the milk testor' is both right and wrong. Most of us in dairy have been on farms that we would not want to drink the milk from. But the milk drinking should still be the consumers choice. Just like that seat belt choice, motorcycle helmet choice, etc. The Harley Davidson Company is not at fault for every motorcycle rider that crashes. Nor should I be at fault for every person who chooses to not follow the rules of cleanliness that the government sets for me to follow....and let's not go down that problem filled route (think about it, other countries don't have to follow the rules but we import their untested and unsanitary products, creating unfair competition for Me in Dairyland!) If the milk leaves my farm and is then pasteurized, so be it. It says so on the container at the point of purchase. If someone wants to buy raw milk, so be it. It does not say it is pasteurized on the container. By the way, my beer is purchased unpasteurized also. Let the people decide!

Joe Dairyman    
USA  |  November, 28, 2012 at 09:54 PM

Merry Dairy Mom.... I'm confused? Are you a cow that never gets mastitis? Or a calf that never gets the scours? So babies get raw milk from the same mother? The mother that bore the that baby? So if the public wants raw milk they should get their milk from the own cow? Is that why Dairy farmers can drink raw milk without problems because they drink milk from the same herd of cows their whole life? You also commented that public water should be treated so public water supply will not make people sick. That's a great idea, treat public water supply with chlorine and pasteurize the milk. That way people won't get sick. Wow why didn't I think of that!

Kristy Hill Campbell    
Knoxville, TN  |  November, 28, 2012 at 11:41 PM

Well said, Dr. Cummins!!! And "Ditto" from this dairy scientist who also worked for nearly a decade in milk quality lab at a University. The supposed 'health benefits' do not outweigh the risks!

Kristy Hill Campbell    
Knoxville, TN  |  November, 29, 2012 at 12:11 AM

I grew up on a dairy (drinking raw milk), studied dairy throughout college, and I work daily in the industry all across North America focusing on raw milk quality (in relation to it being sold to be pasteurized). There is no argument that would convince me to drink raw milk now. I've isolated the bugs in the lab. I've been on the cleanest dairies in the country and have isolated nasty, deadly bugs. I have been on dairies that sale raw milk that was contaminated and made people sick - and they are clean dairies! As someone said earlier, you cannot SEE the bacteria. The reality is this - people make mistakes and equipment fails. With raw milk, there is no safety net. One simple mistake on the farm can result in people dying. Not one or two...but many. It would take a chain reaction of mistakes to have the same result with pasteurized milk. This is not a political issue. This is not about "rights" of bachcole or anyone else wanting to buy raw milk for whatever health 'benefit' they believe. This is about protecting human health. Bachcole you are so venomous that it turns us all away without even wanting to listen to your side of the debate. Site your published studies if you are so sure of your facts. They will not outweigh the truth. Also, I suggest you talk to a woman that miscarried due to listeria. You need to talk to the mother of a child that died from drinking contaminated milk. They had the same belief as you - until they were exposed to the ugly side of the truth. Milk is not sterile. The milking environment is not sterile. Will drinking raw milk kill everyone? No. But what is an acceptable number of deaths for you?

Wisconsin  |  November, 29, 2012 at 07:23 AM

I'm just happy that people are fighting about drinking milk! It means you people are drinking milk! I'd like to here the arguement about which is more harmful- raw milk or soda? Just for the conversation...

Joe Dairyman    
USA  |  November, 29, 2012 at 08:17 AM

Thank you Aggie, Dairy dad, Kristy. You make good logical comments. More and more dairymen are also pasteurizing their milk they feed their baby calves to control mortality. Organic milk is Ultra Pasturised! They heat it up higher because it wont keep as long as they conventional pasteurized milk! Frank your opening a can of syrup, stick to issue.

November, 29, 2012 at 08:32 AM

You are insane...you make the assumption that every person who drinks raw milk will personally go to the farm they're buying it from and are then qualified to assess the standards by which "their" milk is being made...people who probably have absolutely ZERO education in agricultural/bovine practices and management. If all farms were to switch to grass fed/free range, milk production would PLUMMET and the prices for milk you would have to pay would the sky rocket...cows cannot convert the essential nutrients they need as efficiently from a solely grass fed diet...this isn't an opinion people its science...get an education

November, 29, 2012 at 08:32 AM

You are insane...you make the assumption that every person who drinks raw milk will personally go to the farm they're buying it from and are then qualified to assess the standards by which "their" milk is being made...people who probably have absolutely ZERO education in agricultural/bovine practices and management. If all farms were to switch to grass fed/free range, milk production would PLUMMET and the prices for milk you would have to pay would the sky rocket...cows cannot convert the essential nutrients they need as efficiently from a solely grass fed diet...this isn't an opinion people its science...get an education

November, 29, 2012 at 08:36 AM

Previous statement was for bachcole

Colorado Springs  |  November, 29, 2012 at 08:50 AM

Well, Warren, that is exactly what they do. And in some states the laws are set up such that is the only way that people can get raw milk is to first visit their dairy, and in extreme cases, the only way that they can get their milk is to visit their dairy every time they want the milk. And one does not need a PhD in food science to know when a farmer is being careful about hygiene; one does not need a PhD in psychology to know when a farmer is loving his animals and treating them with kindness. Warren, go ahead and criticize, but by doing so, you are merely emphasizing your ignorance of what is going on in the raw milk community. There are websites devoted to judging the quality of organic farmers, including dairies. No one is suggesting that all farms switch to raw milk dairies. We just want you to get your tyrannical boot off of our necks; we just want to protect and preserve our rights. And by "our" I include you. I have to go to all of this trouble to protect your rights because you are too ignorant to realize that if they can take away my rights to raw milk that will eventually get around to taking some of your rights away. It is merely a matter of time.

Colorado Springs  |  November, 29, 2012 at 08:55 AM

Frank, What is more harmful is Big Dairy shills like you who have absolutely no clue what causes a person to be healthy, and probably doesn't care, until you get cancer. Then you run to the government and say, "Oh please you have got to help me. I've been incredibly stupid and irresponsible for the past 40 years and now you have to fix my problem and pay my hospital bill that I caused with eating frankenfoods for that past 40 years."

November, 29, 2012 at 09:08 AM

But you've proven my point, bachcole, that you aren't educated enough to make those decisions by stating that grass fed is inherently better...if that were true farms would need to expand their land ten fold to provide enough grass for the extra cows they would need to compensate for the drop in production they would face...I am all about keeping the government out of my life but not any less then keeping the completely uneducated and inexperienced from trying to tell producers how to do their job

November, 29, 2012 at 09:14 AM

Bachcole, how can you justify letting people who have never worked a day in thier life around dairy cattle or any form of agriculture for that matter tell a 4th or 5th generation producer what to do as if that person truly knows better? Its complete insanity

Colorado Springs  |  November, 29, 2012 at 09:45 AM

Warren, we are not telling you what to do. Big Dairy and government are telling us what to do. Why can't I get this through your thick head. Go ahead and drink your pasteurized milk. I don't really care. Just stop stomping on our right to drink raw (grass-fed) milk. I don't come into your kitchen and tell you what to eat or not eat. Please stop coming into my kitchen and tell me what to eat or not eat.

Colorado Springs  |  November, 29, 2012 at 09:48 AM

Shame on factory farms for the cruelty that they inflict on cows!!! Shame, shame, shame. I was terrified of cows when I would walk through a field. Why, because the cows were terrified of me. When I first went to a raw milk dairy I discovered that cows can be very affectionate. I had cows trying to get love out of me, just like a dog, but without the big teeth and potential for territorial aggression like a dog, and a little bigger, but just as sweet. I was astonished and gratified.

Colorado Springs  |  November, 29, 2012 at 09:50 AM

Warren, grass fed is better. Cows evolved to eat grass. They did not evolve to eat very much grain, but rather predominantly grass. Factory dairies feed grain to cows because it makes them money.

November, 29, 2012 at 10:03 AM

Bachcole you are so ignorant it's not even funny...you obviously haven't visited many real dairys if you believe cows are brutally mistreated and have zero concept of normal ruminant physiology if you really believe grass fed is better (I never said it was bad just much much much less efficient)...I'm not stomping on any of your rights...go ahead and drink your raw milk...I'm pretty sure that's what we call natural selection

Colorado Springs  |  November, 29, 2012 at 10:50 AM

Warren, your ad hominin attacks aren't working. Grass fed cows are definitely less efficient, for the dairy farmer and for Big Dairy. There is no question about that. But, tell me, for millions upon millions of years, before human beings started feeding cows grains about starting about 50 years ago, how did cows manage to eat predominantly grains? Did they develop little cow reapers that separated the proto-wheat from the grain that I don't know about. You are trying to knock down the Theory of Evolution with your skull, and it won't work. Cows evolved eating grass, with very little grain, for millions upon millions of years. The milk produced by cows who eat predominantly grains is at best lacking, and at worse sick. But Big Dairy and the associate dairy farms don't care because only the bottom line matters to them. Not pride, not making a quality product, not treating the cow with kindness. Anything for the almighty dollar.

dairy kid    
california  |  November, 29, 2012 at 11:11 AM

Warren. what a great comment. i do have a question on grass fed cows. when winter comes and there is snow on the ground and the cows are sheltering indoors what does the grass fed cow eat? i for one would have my cows indoors. and for some reason i think it snows quite a lot in colorado springs. and didn't they have a drought this summer? Just wondering.

WI  |  November, 29, 2012 at 11:12 AM

My cattle really enjoy their corn; I have to contrive ways to mix it into the ration, because they preferentially pick it out. Last time I checked, corn was a member of the grass family. We have really healthy cows, we cull largely not because of illness or infirmity but because they reproduce so well and we keep the ones we like the best. Some are a bit skittish but most want to sniff and lick, I am always suspicious that they want to check to see if I taste good. As far as cancer and health care, you sound a bit like some talk show hosts. I am to assume there is no random aspect to developing cancer? It is all about unhealthy choices made? If I get it, it is my own fault and I deserve the punishment? Will I know which choice or choices I made that caused the problem?

Colorado Springs  |  November, 29, 2012 at 11:17 AM

I prefer Skittles and vodka and Twinkies and potato chips. That doesn't make it good for me. I preferentially pick out chocolate chip cooks and ice cream. That doesn't make it good for me.

Colorado Springs  |  November, 29, 2012 at 11:21 AM

dairy kid, you should change your handle if you want me to believe anything that you have to say. Grass fed cows are fed dried hay in the winter, and presumably a ***little*** grains. You would have to ask farmers who haven't sold their souls to the almighty dollar and Big Dairy. Colorado Springs doesn't get much snow. In December, the humidity in Colorado Springs in the lowest in North America. Nostrils crack in December around here. People shove coconut oil into their nostrils in December around here

WI  |  November, 29, 2012 at 11:22 AM

Yes the bottom lines matters, we all need to pay our bills. Even as expensive as corn has become a little bit seems to help me pay mine. Perhaps it would be best if we all disappeared and made sure before we left that the bison were the ones that replaced us because that is what was here originally. Got to address the pride and quality and kindness thing too. By most any parameter you choose to measure it by milk quality improves in general as herd size increases, the most measured one is somatic cell count, but there are others as well. Dairy producers must be proud or they wouldn't take the time to address your venom. I believe I and others are very kind to our animals, do you have a separate kindness index for your farm?

WI  |  November, 29, 2012 at 11:31 AM

Cows, lactating mothers, are high performers, they are a bit like professional atheletes. Everything in moderation! From the sounds of it my cows are eating a lot more sensibile diet than you are, corn does not compare to the vices you suggest... vodka and twinkies!

Colorado Springs  |  November, 29, 2012 at 11:44 AM

Knowing that those foods exist does not mean that I eat them; except for the chocolate chip cookies, of course. If one knows that chocolate chip cookies exist, one is bound to eat them. [That was a joke.] Corn in plenitude is good for the farmer but not good for the cow or the consumer.

Colorado Springs  |  November, 29, 2012 at 11:47 AM

Don't have a farm. Aggie, do you have sweet names for each cow? You may be right about herd size. Cows would naturally feel saver in a larger herd than in a smaller herd. That is why they developed large herds, to protect themselves, statistically speaking, from predators. I cannot argue with that point. But a little scratching behind the ears helps.

WI  |  November, 29, 2012 at 11:52 AM

When we had fewer they had names. Now they have names on their registration paper but also numbers. I think the names are for the benefit of the owner...or maybe the raw milk cusomter?

Southern Farmer Mom    
Olar, SC  |  November, 29, 2012 at 12:42 PM

WOW! I am 30 yrs old, and have lived on a dairy farm, and drank raw milk my entire life. (from cows fed stored feeds) I have never had any side effects. My children refuse to drink store bought milk, unless is it full of sugar. I wonder if some of these terrible pathogens that I believe probably are in raw milk, may actually work as a vaccine in small doses. The thing that suprises me is the Wyoming law that would allow sole owners of livestock to serve raw milk in their home to family members, and non-paying guests! Am I breaking some law by serving my family and guests our milk!?? I also agree with the comment about water. We drink well water, which is known to also have bacteria. But bacteria is not all bad! Have we so over protected ourselves ? That being said, I would be very careful about selling raw milk. As someone mentioned, it doesn't have a very long shelf life. My children won't drink it after about 48 hrs in the fridge. (which may be up to 90 hrs since it was taken from the cow) But telling me that I can't drink it myself, when I have drank it my entire life!??? I don't smoke or drink, but I'm not afraid of our milk.

Colorado Springs  |  November, 29, 2012 at 02:26 PM

It is like me talking to my dogs. I know full well that they don't understand a thing that I say. But it helps me to express my emotions (which are usually either love or frustration as when I am doing work 2 feet above the floor and they are trying to lick my face) better if I say the words, and they do know the emotions. When the cows come to strangers looking for a face to lick or wanting to get their fur scratched, then we know that the cow is being treated well.

wi  |  November, 29, 2012 at 04:31 PM

Is bac-hole really Terry Ward in a thinly veiled disguise?

Colorado Springs  |  November, 29, 2012 at 07:35 PM

Frank, you character is showing, and you shouldn't be so scantily dressed in public. There just isn't much there. I have no clue who Terry Ward is.

November, 29, 2012 at 08:01 PM

I am all in for keeping my rights, however is it tyranny to regulate how things are produced for the safety of the whole? Is it tyranny to make it illegal for toy companies to not use lead based paint? Is it tyranny for the government to prohibit the use of DDT? We don't seem to mind when the right to drink and drive is restricted, to say nothing of texting.

November, 30, 2012 at 05:04 AM

Hey Roger What about LSD and Marijuana? Are you in favor of those too? Is the government encroaching on your freedom again?

Colorado Springs  |  November, 30, 2012 at 12:25 PM

Regarding my comments about tyranny and boots planted on people's symbolic necks, I suppose that most of you did not see the stories about FDA thugs pulling guns on Santa Monica greenies and a Pennsylvania Amish farmer (and certainly others). Both were selling raw milk legally according to their state's laws. Oh, you missed those reports. I guess the lamestream media forgot to publish those stories. This is what I am talking about. Only an anarchist ideologue would want no government interference whatsoever, risking the possibility of people being harmed by raw milk that went bad. But the FDA and most health "authorities" and most state governments are not working with us so that we can have our God given rights. They are working AGAINST us. In fact, it would seem from a perspective of being a health hobbyist of 44 years, that the FDA is AGAINST EVERYTHING that is healthful. They oppose EVERYTHING that people try to do for their health. This is why I hate their guts. Not because I like to hate anyone or like to hate at all, but the pattern of the behavior of the FDA is such that I am required by my good American heart to hate them from the bottom of my American heart.

Colorado Springs  |  November, 30, 2012 at 12:28 PM

Funny, this always comes up in a discussion like this, and I never know quite what to say. I did both grass and LSD many times more than 43 years ago, so I do know what I am talking about. I think that they are both a disaster, especially LSD. But the war on drugs is a failure. Can we as a society discourage the use of these substances while at the same time legalizing them, particularly grass? I am unsure.

Mandy Cochrane    
United Kingdom  |  November, 30, 2012 at 12:50 PM

I live in the UK, I'm not a farmer or a scientist, so perhaps I'm poking my nose in here, but I just wanted to speak from my own experience. I chose to switch my family to raw milk five years ago after reading up plenty about it, good and bad. In the end I weighed up the risks and decided to give it a go. For what it's worth, my kids never get ill when the the rest of the class is down with bugs and colds. My son's eczema cleared right up, though it had always been bad and he was told by doctors previously that he was allergic to dairy products. Not so with raw milk. As a family we've never been healthier and we love the taste. Yes, I know that only holds good until the day we get struck by some awful bacteria, and I'm not stupid enough to think it can't happen. But I know and trust my local farmer and hygiene regulations in the UK for raw milk suppliers are strictly upheld and monitored. Besides, has anyone got the figures for outbreaks of disease caused by contamination from pasteurising factories? The dairy industry would like to imply it simply doesn't happen, but would they care to give us the figures? I feel we've moved so far from a natural, unprocessed diet that we have to try to redress it. As a species, humans have never been sicker. Our bodies are rejecting our modern diets in the form of ever-increasing allergies. There is no "This is bad for you" or "This is good for you" answer to the question of raw milk. In the right circumstances, either might apply. As such, I don't think the government (and I speak for the UK here, where there is similar debate), ought to make such decisions "for our own good". We must inform ourselves and take responsibility for our own actions.

Washington State  |  November, 30, 2012 at 05:05 PM

It's not the gov't that wants control; I think it's large dairy processors that want to use gov't to control the competition.

Colorado Springs  |  November, 30, 2012 at 08:54 PM

Mandy Cochrane, unfortunately, boffins have nothing but contempt for your testimonial and call it anecdotal, not realizing that all great discoveries start with anecdotal evidence. These are the boffins that don't actually create or discover anything; they just tear other people's work down.

New Zealand  |  November, 30, 2012 at 09:25 PM

Bachcole please feel free to drink as much raw milk as you can, interestingly you want no government intervention to stop you having this option however you do want the government to have some regulations that make sure that raw milk producers treat their cows a certain way, the conditions that it produced in monitored to ensure that it is hygienic etc, if your values held true then you would accept that all farmers have a right to produce milk without any regulation governing how they treat their animals, hygiene requirements etc. i.e. THE FREE MARKET, no one restricting their choices and rights to choose for themselves, and if they kill you or other s then they woould quickly go out of business. Can you have it both ways? Its my experience that governments act to protect people from themselves, in your case I am willing to make the exception, and I hope you enjoy playing russian roullette with your life but please wait until your children are old enough to make up their own minds before forcing your religion on them after all thats what you stand for, "the freedom to choose"

Lauren Robinson    
Christiansburg, VA  |  December, 01, 2012 at 10:24 AM

I agree with Mr. Lamar - while one's quality control may be good, bacteria are a risky factor. I would prefer that people who wish to sell milk do it as he does it - pasteurize it gently and properly to maintain taste and benefits, while reducing the pathogen burden. I'm not arguing against people's rights, just in the interest of preserving health as much as reasonably possible.

Colorado Springs  |  December, 01, 2012 at 11:38 AM

Actually Daveyo, with regard to the animal cruelty, I did not mention any government intervention whatsoever. I guess you got that from your own thoughts. What I would prefer is if PETA would get serious about factory dairies. So, start over and criticize me about something that I actually said.

Colorado Springs  |  December, 01, 2012 at 12:52 PM

Is it OK with you moral midgets if FDA officials drew guns on an Amish farmer, over raw milk? Just in case you have been living under a rock for the past 450 years, the Amish are famous for their non-violence. Is it OK with you moral midgets if FDA officials drew guns on Santa Monica greenies, who are also well known for their non-violence, over raw milk. Or is it easier to avoid the moral issues and just go on being a sheeple, ignoring the possibility that you may be next, that your rights and welfare may be crushed next.

PA  |  December, 01, 2012 at 07:15 PM

We have a small dairy farm - milk 60 cows. My children have been raised on raw milk from our tank and are exceptionally healthy, athletic and top students of their classes. They complain about the tase of commercially paseturized milk. Many Amish and a few English farms sell raw milk in SE PA. Some do it legally with permits, some not. I would NEVER sell raw milk to the public, however, I do serve it to visiting family and guests - always with the safety info that an informed consumer should have. I get very irritated by ignorant consumers and worse by farmers who promote raw milk without appropriate safety info on the dangers of consuming raw milk. We have a very clean dairy with good quality control and usually very low bacteria counts. Our cows are exceptionally clean - housed inside on comfort gel mattresses with stalls cleaned and rebedded with shavings 3 times a day. They are kept clipped and cleaned up 4 to 8 times a year when we have international or domestic visitors viewing our elite cow families. Our vet emphaticaly states that our cows are the cleanest herd he works with. Having said all that, a few years ago we had a feed issue that caused stress in the cows and reduced their immune function. Within days, we had a disease outbreak from a strain of salmonella that was vicious. It took 5 days to culture and by the time we figured out what was going on and how to best address it, 1/3 of our herd was sick and my 5 year old daughter as well. I had to fight with the pediatrician - and I mean it got nasty - to not wait for her stool culture results because I knew she would end up in the hospital and I could not deal with that along with caring for critically sick cows needing care 24/7 (to be cont'd)

pa  |  December, 01, 2012 at 07:32 PM

Within 12 hrs of her visit I had sensitivities and antibiotics for my daughter. 24 hrs of treatment she was betterl. Unfortunately, the antibiotic that worked for my herwas not allowed for my cows and the salmonella were resisitant to the few antibiotics that were ok to use. Our only option was good supportive care which minimized our mortalities to 1 cow (the one that provided the initial cultures) but the disease event still cost us over $15,000 that year in lost revenues and extra expenses. It was devastating. Several things happened leading up to the outbreak - professional fitters to prepare a few cows for a photo shoot, a hoof trimmer who may not have disinfected his trimming shoot, a new load of feed and a switch to a new silo of forage. Any of those may have introduced the bacteria that made our cows sick for about 3 weeks - even under our very clean, well managed dairy (and yes, all our cows are called by their names - they also have numbers for official ID - and many know their names and come when I call them). We worked with vets from the Univ of PA New Bolton Ctr to learn more about this "new" salmonella strain that was just recognized as affecting dairy cattle at the time. They sampled saliva, urine and manure and I ran milk filters to sample to the lab for several days. They learned that it was shed in the raw milk. We were advised to avoid drinking our raw milk or feeding it to calves until our herd was past the illness. If we sold raw milk, I can't imagine the consequences! This can happen unexpectantly to any herd at any time, regardless of cleanliness. My insurance will not cover raw milk sales - so I wont, but I think INFORMED consumers should have a choice and also accept the risk.

pa  |  December, 01, 2012 at 07:50 PM

Perhaps, Bachole, you would not be one of the people who would "sue the farmer for all he's worth" if you got sick from drinking raw milk - but many people would and have filed suits. I am not willing to risk it because once the milk leaves my farm, I have no control over how it is handled. Our raw milk goes right from the cooling tank to my refridg. It is consumed within 36 hours and never is left out on the counter or table for more than a few minutes. My kids know this is vital. Will my customer keep the milk cold enough during transport? Will they make a stop at the grocery? Will they consume it all within 2 days? Will it sit out on the breakfast table for 15 minutes warming up while kids eat their breakfast? Too many people are ignorant of the risks - that is a big reason why govt steps in - to protect people from themselves...I do not like that concept, but I also do not like that our legal system can make farmers be at fault for the consumer's ignorance. Less lawyers and insurance companies would benefit our society if we all had to accept responsibility and not pass blame. Too many people want the govt to "protect" them from neighbors, nuisances, risks, loss, etc. - so that is where we are at. There are good points on both sides, but you must be willing to understand all sides of the issue. I am reminded of a day this summer at my Amish neighbors. She was giving me extra baskets of strawberries that were a few days picked and getting too ripe. A car pulled up. A customer was buying berries and asked if they were organic because her daughter wouldn't be able to wait until they got home to eat a few. The Amish said all they used was fish fertilizer - I cringed as the lady ate a berry. MISINFORMED!!!!

WA  |  December, 01, 2012 at 07:52 PM

You're right, we should also not have the government dictate labelling of poison. If I want to buy a toxic compound cheaper without labelling as poison, I should have the right to....... Why would you think regulation is a bad thing? Even with regulation we have too many food related illnesses even death....I just don't get your point of view, isn't prevention usually cost-effective?

Colorado Springs  |  December, 01, 2012 at 10:06 PM

Because regulation assumes that those doing the regulating know what they are doing. It assumes that they know more than you and I. It assumes that the science doesn't change. It assumes that technology doesn't change. It assumes that raw milk as it is done to day is the same as raw milk 110 years ago. It assumes that raw milk does not have benefits that out weighs the risks. It assumes that the regulators aren't working for Big Dairy rather than you and me. It assumes that you and I can't weigh the risks and benefits. Any more questions.

Colorado Springs  |  December, 01, 2012 at 10:41 PM

A.H., I read your entire comment. My trying to give you advice or make informed comments from 2000 miles away and not being a dairy farmer seems risky at best. I can only deal with principles, not concrete details. Having said that caveat: You seemed to be very oriented toward protecting your cows from disease, but you did not mention what they ate and said nothing about strengthening their immune systems. There are in and on my and your body, more bacteria cells than there are human cells. 90% of the genetic material in our bodies is bacterial. But either our immune systems protect us from those bacteria that might harm us, or the rest of the bacteria are pro-biotic, meaning that they work with me and you. For hundreds of millions of years these bacteria thrived and had "babies" (divided) if they helped our ancestor hosts thrive, or else they died with our aunt and uncle ancestors who did not make it. In other words, the pro-biotic bacteria had to help us if they were to survive and pass on their genes. We are loaded with these bacteria, and they are the most important part of our brain. In fact, some scientists are starting to call them a "second brain". I am betting that your cows are not grass-fed or free range. Perhaps they are but I didn't get that from reading your comments (which comments I greatly appreciate.) There are other farming practices that can strengthen the immune systems of your cows, including "bio-dynamic farming", but I am not a dairy farmer.

Colorado Springs  |  December, 02, 2012 at 01:14 PM

Oops. I didn't mean that the pro-biotic bacteria are the most important part of our "brains". I meant to say that they are the most important part of our "immune system". Sorry about that

Joe Dairyman    
USA  |  December, 02, 2012 at 05:30 PM

Back hole you said you are "not a Dairy Farmer"! That's the only statement you have made so far that makes any sense! Ha ha!

Colorado Springs  |  December, 02, 2012 at 08:22 PM

What a childish post! I am shocked that the big dairy association would pay such a childish person to defend them.

Joseph Heckman    
New Jersey  |  December, 09, 2012 at 09:05 PM

How about deaths from pasteurized milk? To give just one example: In 2007 listeria outbreak from pasteurized milk resulted in the death of 3 people. Outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes Infections Associated with Pasteurized Milk from a Local Dairy – Massachusetts, 2007 http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/301/8/820.extract

Montana  |  January, 08, 2013 at 02:07 PM

THe gov already does. Do you know in many areas it is illegal to grow a garden? sell herbs? sell organic herbs, veggies? I could fill pages ....

Montana  |  January, 08, 2013 at 02:12 PM

Grass fed beef is the best, most nutritious in the world. Our gov not only dictates what we should eat/drink, but they help control it. GMO foods, Kraft and Monsanto, now own over 1/2 of all organic producing farms and seeds. Conflict of interest? You bet, but money talks. If the gov was concerned, GMO would be outlawed, vaccines would be outlawed-research Dr. reports on vaccines, they will horrify you, chemical spaying in the sky would be outlawed, and well, basically, pretty much our way of life would have to be changed if humans are to benefit from healthy lifestyles.

colorado springs  |  February, 10, 2014 at 01:47 PM

I can go out today and buy carrots or oranges, oranges, greens, apples and make my own (unpasteurized juice) and get around the pasteurization rules. But I can still get very sick from the produce that created the juice and for which there are already a lot of regulations on the produce that does not work, allowing all kinds of folks to get sick and die. But I can't buy a cow (unless I buy a share in a dairy farm) and make my own milk to get around the pasteurization. When I lived in Texas I owned a restaurant and nightclub in a dry community. Folks bought a "locker" for storage of liquor that we purchased and kept (haha) for them It seems like we should have the ability to sell a "locker" for raw milk, one that does not include the hefty price of $40.00 for 4 gallons of milk per month. Just like with innoculations, let the buyer beware. The buyer should have a choice in this as in everything.

Margate,FL  |  March, 12, 2014 at 04:18 PM

I am of Amish decent. My family and I have been drinking raw milk from our Wisconsin cows for eight generations. No diseases have been determined. It is my firm belief that the CD C is controlled by the Multi Billion Dollar Lobby-The Milk Lobby. When I was a child in New York, a Dairy supplied our milk. This milk was pasteurized but not homogenized. The " Organic Milk " the Government controls is not organic at all. The "milk" is stripped of all of its natural ingredients and the chosen vitamins, and other ingredients, are mixed into the empty fluid. I have been a newsman for thirty years,. an I know the sad way the Milk Lobby works.

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