Header graphic for print

Food Safety News

Breaking news for everyone's consumption

Lone Star Rally Planned to Boost Raw Milk Sales

Bills to allow the retail sales of raw milk have been referred to committees in the Texas Legislature. 

No meetings or hearings have been scheduled on either HB 75, referred to the House Public Health Committee, nor SB 237, which was sent to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

While no legislative action is scheduled, raw milk will be one focus of a rally Monday (Feb. 21) organized for Austin by the Cameron, TX-based Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA).

HB 75 and SB 237, sponsored by Republican Rep. Dan Flynn and Sen. Bob Deuell, respectively, would if enacted expand the sales of raw milk in the Lone Star State.

Sales could occur at the permit holder’s place of business, the consumer’s residence, or “any other location where producers customarily sell their products directly to consumers including a farmers’ market, farm stand, flea market, food cooperative or fair.”

Texas currently allows the sale of Grade A raw milk on the farm only.

FARFA says it represents “independent farmers and ranchers” who are “targeted for ever-more burdensome regulations.”  Among those regulations is the Texas State Health Department’s ban on off-farm sales of raw milk.

Texas is among a handful of states considering legislation to expand the production and sale of raw or unpasteurized milk. A New Jersey bill cleared the Garden State’s House Agriculture Committee on a 4-0 vote last week.

Other states considering bills include such public health leaders as Oregon and Minnesota, and the dairy state of Wisconsin. Massachusetts is also looking at loosening its raw milk regulations.

A Wyoming legislative committee, however, blocked an attempt to expand raw milk sales in the Cowboy State.

© Food Safety News
  • Dan,
    If I didn’t know the history of Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA) and Food Safety News (FSN), I would draw the conclusion from your article that you and FSN have never heard of it.
    You and I know that is definitely not the case.
    As you and FSN well know, FARFA was created shortly after the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) idea was first introduced and has spearheaded the fight which has brought it to a standstill. As a result, FARFA’s Executive Director, Judith McGeary, is currently on the USDA committee recommending how to proceed in that area. Ms. McGeary is an attorney and rancher with experience in agency law who is well-known for her extensive work with the Organic Consumers Assn., the Weston A. Price Foundation and Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.
    And, as y’all also know, FARFA and the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) led the effort that ultimately resulted in the inclusion of the Tester-Hagan amendment in the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.
    The style and content of the FSN report and its earlier failure to report on the activities of FARFA and Judith McGeary contrast widely from how FSN reports on organizations like the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and the director of its Food Safety Program, Caroline Smith DeWaal.
    I urge FSN’s readers to review FARFA’s website (http://farmandranchfreedom.org/) as FARFA is clearly playing a major role not only in TX but also nationally “represent[ing] ‘independent farmers and ranchers’ who are ‘targeted for ever-more burdensome regulations.'” That is why I support FARFA and Judith so strongly.

  • Dan, thank you for covering this story.
    To clarify: February 21st is a Family Farms and Locals Foods Education Day, where citizens from across Texas will be coming to the state Capitol to meet with legislators to educate them about the importance of local foods. Raw milk is very high on the agenda, and we will also be discussing issues such as regulations of farmers markets, the production of low-risk foods in home kitchens, property taxes on urban farms, and more.
    The raw milk bill in Texas has already drawn broad support, with cosponsors from both parties and from both rural and urban communities. Like most local foods issues, the consumers are as deeply involved as the farmers. In fact, most of the people coming to the February 21st event are consumers who want to have access to the foods of their choice.
    Texas raw milk producers have an excellent safety record. From 1998-2007, the CDC reports reflect only two illnesses linked to raw milk in Texas. In contrast, over 12,000 foodborne illnesses were reported in Texas in that same time period (not including multi-state outbreaks), traced to such foods as strawberries, mangos, ice cream, cake, beans, lettuce salads, salsa, cheeses, pot pie, chicken salad, hot dogs, deli meats, and beef brisket.
    Any food carries some risk of foodborne illness, but Texas licensed raw milk farmers take extensive precautions to ensure the safety and quality of their product.
    For more information about raw milk and the Texas bill, visit http://www.TexasRealMilk.org
    Our main website, http://www.FarmAndRanchFreedom.org includes information on the other issues we work on, from animal ID and food safety to GMOs.

  • Michael Bulger

    To say that FARFA led the effort to include the Tester Amendment is an overstatement.
    Regardless, McGeary has now focused her efforts on misleading legislatures regarding the science of raw milk. Her lack of understanding of the microbiology of cows milk is apparent from the claims on texasrealmilk.com. When WAPF and McGeary present research in an honest way, they will begin to be respected. As it is, they misinterpret science in a wholly irresponsible way.
    It’s disappointing to see them waste our time and tax money putting forth unsubstantiated claims. Once again, they’re “FARFA” the truth.

  • Marco

    From: Keene, WE. Lessons from investigations of foodborne disease outbreaks. JAMA 1999;281:1845-1847
    ” … Raw milk has been and continues to be a staple in the epidemiological literature, linked to a long list of diseases, including campylobacteriosis, salmonellosis, tuberculosis, brucellosis, hemorrhagic escherichiosis, Brainerd diarrhea, Q fever, listeriosis, yersiniosis, and toxoplasmosis, to name a few. The outbreaks described by Cody et al and Villar et al add yet another agent to the list: DT104 phage group Salmonella enterica serotype Typhimurium. DT104 salmonellae have been an object of increasing alarm as they have spread rapidly through Britain and the United States over the past 10 to 15 years. Most DT104 organisms are resistant to a broad range of antibiotics, complicating treatment of patients with invasive disease, and they may be more likely to cause severe disease than most salmonellae.
    There is no mystery about why raw milk is a common vehicle for salmonellosis and other enteric infections; after all, dairy milk is essentially a suspension of fecal and other microorganisms in a nutrient broth. Without pasteurization or other processing to kill pathogens, consumption of raw milk is a high-risk behavior. Although aging and drying renders some cheeses made from raw milk safe, fresh cheeses made from raw or imperfectly pasteurized milk—including Mexican-style soft cheese—are likewise well-documented hazards. Raw milk and raw-milk products will continue to cause morbidity and mortality until people stop consuming them.
    Regulation can be a valuable complement to food safety education. Science-based regulations protect public health by establishing a level playing field for industry, discouraging ignorant or unscrupulous operators from cutting corners to increase profits. New regulations are helping the meat industry make significant changes in the way animals are slaughtered, butchered, and processed; the result is a safer product. At least 22 states restrict or prohibit the sale of raw milk, and in those states milk-associated disease outbreaks are much less common than elsewhere.”

  • Facts are stubborn things. Thank goodness.
    Find them here:
    http://www.realrawmilkfacts.com/
    P.S.: Bravo Micheal, bravo!

  • The materials on the Texas Real Milk website include citations to scientific studies at the bottom of the Learn More page. If anyone can point to materials that we’ve posted that are inaccurate, I’m happy to correct that.
    I’d encourage people to look at the CDC data for themselves. You can find the information for every state at:
    wwwn.cdc.gov/foodborneoutbreaks/
    The data reflects that, in the context of foodborne illnesses generally, illnesses to raw milk are a tiny fraction. Even in states that allow sales of raw milk in the grocery stores, so that it is widely available, the total number of illnesses attributed to raw milk are very small.
    Any food can cause illness if it is not handled correctly.
    The proposed bills in Texas do not reduce any of the existing health or safety related regulations, which require raw milk to meet the same or higher standards as pasteurized milk at every step of the process. The only change would be to stop forcing consumers to waste their time and money by driving to the farm each and every week. I have yet to see anyone give a factual explanation for how placing this burden on consumers improves human health or safety.

  • Dan,
    If I didn’t know the history of Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA) and Food Safety News (FSN), I would draw the conclusion from your article that you and FSN have never heard of it.
    You and I know that is definitely not the case.
    As you and FSN well know, FARFA was created shortly after the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) idea was first introduced and has spearheaded the fight which has brought it to a standstill. As a result, FARFA’s Executive Director, Judith McGeary, is currently on the USDA committee recommending how to proceed in that area. Ms. McGeary is an attorney and rancher with experience in agency law who is well-known for her extensive work with the Organic Consumers Assn., the Weston A. Price Foundation and Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.
    And, as y’all also know, FARFA and the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) led the effort that ultimately resulted in the inclusion of the Tester-Hagan amendment in the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.
    The style and content of the FSN report and its earlier failure to report on the activities of FARFA and Judith McGeary contrast widely from how FSN reports on organizations like the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and the director of its Food Safety Program, Caroline Smith DeWaal.
    I urge FSN’s readers to review FARFA’s website (http://farmandranchfreedom.org/) as FARFA is clearly playing a major role not only in TX but also nationally “represent[ing] ‘independent farmers and ranchers’ who are ‘targeted for ever-more burdensome regulations.'” That is why I support FARFA and Judith so strongly.

  • Michael Bulger

    Let’s take your claim that lactoperoxidase is an effective antimicrobial, and your allusion to the idea that raw milk is reasonably safe for increased population level consumption as a result.
    You cite the study, “Seifu, E., E.M. Buys and E.F. Donkin. 2005. Significance of the lactoperoxidase system in the dairy industry and its potential applications: a review.” In this study, the researchers examine the antimicrobial actions of bovine whey against salmonella enteritidis. It should be noted that the whey is separated from the milk and this is not a study on the viability of lactoperoxidase as an antimicrobial in fluid milk. Even so, the researchers find that under refrigeration, the whey only retains effective lactoperodixase activity for a little over a week. There own conclusion is that the use of whey as a food safety tool “is not ready yet for practical use in food industry.”
    That study dealt with whey in isolation. Are there any studies that deal with lactoperoxdase in raw milk?
    I found one at the library. It’s titled “Benefits and Potential Risks of the Lactoperoxidase System of Raw Milk Preservation.” This was a report of an FAO/WHO technical meeting at FAO headquarters in Rome (28 Nov-2 Dec., 2005). Here are some points from the report:
    Lactoperoxidase will work against bacteria only when active. Requires hydrogen peroxide to be active. Gram negative bacteria decompose hydrogen peroxide. Some raw milk have an enzyme that decompose hydrogen peroxide. The self-activation of lactoperoxidase is “not consistent”.
    The study examines the potential for adding hydrogen peroxide to raw milk to ensure activation. It is intended as a method to preserve raw milk along rural, developing world supply chains leading to eventual pasteurization. It might be used in “maintaining the hygenic quality of raw milk for a limited period of time.” It is not intended to make milk safe for consumption. (Any milk treated with this method and subsequently pasteurized would not be allowed into international trade).
    The effectiveness of (activated) lactoperoxidase is dependent on initial pathogen levels and strains. It “does not preclude or replace the need for pasteurization of raw milk to improve safety for human consumption.”
    Finally, the majority of lactoperoxidase enzymes survive pasteurization. “In practical terms, batch pasteurization (e.g. 65degreeC/30 minutes) has little effect on enzyme activity. HTST pasteurization (72degreeC/15 seconds) results in retention of approximately 70 percent lactoperoxidase…”
    In a fashion similar to other scientific justifications you put forth, the limited citing and misinterpretation of study results has put you in the position of misleading the public and our government. If I retained the ability to use similar deceptions to bilk the public out of monetary donations and employ myself profitably in this area, as you have, I might spend my leisure revealing the underlying truths on which you build your fallacies.
    Fortunately or unfortunately as it may be, I have not the time today to demonstrate that your reliance on poorly-designed 80 year old milk rat-feeding studies, your erroneous comparisons to human breast milk, or any others of your claims, show hollow when held to the candle of serious inquiry.
    The proliferation of raw milk sales and consumption (as one might expect when the distribution of the product leaves the farm and enters farmers markets and unsuspecting CSA boxes) would bring with it an expected rise in illnesses. As long as you try to further the consumption of raw milk by misleading the public as to its safety and superiority in health, you do them a great disservice.

  • Once again, Michael Bulger has used a variety of cheap debate tricks in his ongoing campaign to mislead readers by smearing those of us who disagree with his Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) approach to food safety. His comment above, shown as having been posted by him at 10:50 AM on 2-16-11, is a good example.
    All FSN comments are moderated so the times listed are the time in the Pacific Time zone that they were posted into FSN’s system, NOT the time the time the comment was published. A comparison of the times of the 2 comments before his (mine and Judith McGeary’s at 5:46 AM and 10:12 AM respectively), and his (10:50 AM) and an analysis the content of them plus his later comment shows that my comment was the only one posted at the time he made his and that he is clearly responding to mine.
    Michael Bulger’s first paragraph illustrates one of his most common, cheap debate tricks – Bulger falsely reports what I wrote in my comment. Bulger wrote, “To say that FARFA led the effort to include the Tester Amendment…” But, then, I didn’t say that. Rather, I wrote, “FARFA and the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) led the effort.” I wrote that BOTH, not just FARFA led the effort.
    A second Bulger debate trick is to then seemingly graciously state this thing I didn’t write is false by simply characterizing it as “overstated.”
    Have I “overstated” FARFA’s role in the inclusion of Tester-Hagan? Absolutely not!
    How do I know FARFA’s role in the inclusion of Tester-Hagan? Because I worked full-time (within the Healthy Food Coalition) for the inclusion of a Tester-Hagan type threshold in the Senate version of the FSMA from July, 2009 through the passage on 11-30-10 of the S 510 version of the FSMA. Please note my starting date was over 8 months before Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) first proposed his amendments near the end of March 2010. Judith McGeary work even longer than that with WORC to find a Senator willing to sponsor the need amendments.
    On the other hand, how would Michael Bulger know FARFA’s role when he was only an outside supporter of the FSMA who didn’t enter the fray until long AFTER Tester had first proposed his amendments? In fact, it appears he only joined in the debate on 8-4-10 on Marion Nestle’s blog, “Food Politics,” after entering the food studies program at NYU where Nestle is a professor. I urge readers to look at his blog, “Smart Culture Kitchen – Anthropologist-Cook Turns Graduate Student!” (http://smartculturekitchen.blogspot.com/) which began on 3-2-10 and has no entries after 11-30-10. Despite blogging since 3-2-10, he didn’t make an entry on the FMSA until 8-9-10. You’ll note there are no comments from me. Why? Because he blocked all of them.
    If you want to clearly see how limited Michael Bulger’s involvement in this issue has been, simply read through the long comments on his professor, Marion Nestle’s, blog entry, “We need S 510 to pass, despite tea bagging.” The blog entry with comments starts on http://www.foodpolitics.com/2010/08/we-need-s-510-to-pass-despite-tea-bagging/comment-page-1/#comments. The second page which is almost entirely a debate with him is accessed by clicking “newer comments” at the very bottom. Apparently, that is when he first entered the fray. The second paragraph of Bulger’s 12:45 PM entry on 8-4-10 reads, “I have not read S. 510, but hope that reasonable efforts are being made to improve a system that is antiquated.” Despite this, he shortly began acting as if he were an expert with long experience. (BTW, Dr. Nestle blocked my first comment in which I pointed out that she had quoted me out of context and never contacted me on the subject.)
    A third Bulger debate trick is to falsely characterize his target in general terms without any documentation. His second paragraph begins, “Regardless, McGeary has now focused her efforts on misleading legislatures regarding the science of raw milk.” I had just pointed out that Ms. McGeary is a member of the committee appointed by Sec. of the USDA, Tom Vilsack, on NAIS so how can she be “now focused” on raw milk? But even that mischaracterization isn’t enough. Bulger then makes a general accusation that she is “misleading legislatures regarding the science of raw milk.” And, once again, he offers no documentation to support his claim. Bulger follows this with additional paternalistic personal attacks on Ms. McGeary and closes with a last blast, “It’s disappointing to see them waste our time and tax money putting forth unsubstantiated claims. Once again, they’re ‘FARFA’ the truth.”
    The combination of these is Bulger’s fourth debate trick—he completely ignores the thrust of a trenchant comment by his target and attempts to divert the debate away from it with a variety of comments from sly to outrageous to lame attempts at humor.
    The on-line magazine, Grist, defines a “troll” as a “commenter who makes outrageous or provocative statements purely in order to derail discussion” and follows up with “You know who you are.” As Bulger’s comment clearly responds to mine and completely ignores the thrust of my comment (i.e., the contrast between how FSN reports the activities of groups like FARFA and CSPI), I hope it is clear to everyone that his comments are seldom more than those of a sophisticated troll.
    Finally, I would be astonished if Michael Bulger doesn’t know that responding to his comments requires a lot more time from people like me than his initial comments do. Thus, he knows that his actions will siphon away valuable time from our side’s efforts.
    I have taken the time because he has artfully hidden the truth about my friend and fellow hard worker for local, healthy food, Judith McGeary, under a patently false appearance. In a word, Michael Bulger is a dissembler and I loathe dissemblers.
    As always, I will happily respond individually to any questions or comments about what I have written, if sent to me at healthyfoodcoalition@gmail.com.

  • Michael, I have never claimed that lactoperoxidase is a silver bullet that can protect raw milk from contamination under unsanitary conditions, such as those in developing countries. To the contrary, the statement on the website is that raw milk contains “numerous components that assist in killing pathogens” in milk, listing lactoperoxidase as one of almost a dozen components. Half a dozen scientific studies, ranging from the year 2000 to 2009, are cited in support:
    Shah, N.P. 2000. Effects of milk-derived bioactives: an overview. British J of Nutrition 84(Suppl. 1):S3-S10. Cross, M.L. and H.S. Gill. 2000. Immunomodulator properties of milk. British J. of Nutrition 84(Suppl. 1): S81-S89. Korhonen, H., P. Marnilla, and H.S. Gill. Milk Immunoglobulins and complement factors. British J. of Nutrition 84 (Suppl. 1): S75-S80. Arnold, D. et al. 2002. Antiadenovirus activity of milk proteins: lactoferrin prevents viral infection. Antiviral Res. 53:153-158. Dionysius, D.A. and J.M. Milne, 1997. Antibacterial peptides of bovine lactoferrin: purification and characterization. Journal of Dairy Science 80, 667-674. Campanella, L. et al. 2009. Determination of lactoferin and immunoglobulin G in animal milks b new immunosensors. Sensors 9: 2202-2221. Seifu, E., E.M. Buys and E.F. Donkin. 2005. Significance of the lactoperoxidase system in the dairy industry and its potential applications: a review. Trends in Food Science & Tech. 16(4):137-154.
    People can read all of the information, in context, at http://texasrealmilk.org/Learn-More
    Your comment about my bilking people out of money to employ myself profitably is false. In our previous discussions, I have told you that I am a volunteer. I do not make any money from my work for FARFA, including this work on the raw milk campaign. To the contrary, I have sacrificed several hundred thousand dollars that I could have made as an attorney over the last 4 years to work as a volunteer on farming and local food issues.
    There is certainly good grounds for people to argue the pros and cons of raw milk. I asked if you could point to anything I had posted that was inaccurate, given that you started by accusing me of misleading people. Your response failed to do so, and instead addressed a claim I never made, pulled a single study out of context, and made a false personal attack. Your tactics add nothing useful to the discussion.

  • Michael Bulger

    Judith, you are clearly the one who uses studies out of context. Your lactoperoxidase study focuses on bovine whey alone. That study, in addition to the one I provided (which is more relevant to the issue), demonstrate that lactoperoxidase has unreliable potential in any serious discussion of raw milk consumption. These studies conclude that it “does not preclude or replace the need for pasteurization of raw milk to improve safety for human consumption” and that it is “not ready yet for practical use.”
    I’m sure a dozen other ineffective and inconsistent mechanisms within raw milk may work by chance, but the population data shows that it is sorely inadequate when compared to pasteurized milk.
    I apologize for what you took as an attack. Unfortunately, you fail to see how my presentation of the context of your lactoperoxidase claim does not support your argument. I would fully enjoy investigating more of your claims, as the data put forth by WAPF is consistently incomplete and misinterpreted. No matter if the researchers conclude that pasteurization remains necessary? Or that the mechanism presented is not practical in real world applications and most likely would lead to increased morbidity?
    That is the underlying issue. The public health effects of raw milk consumption are a serious matter.
    To Harry: We’ve gone over this before. I don’t block or delete comments from my blog. I never have. Ever. Try clicking the submit button. Also, do not navigate away from the page until the submission has been processed. Look into classes at your local library that can help you use the Internet.

  • Michael Bulger

    I had a moment to look at another one of your studies.
    Korhonen, H., P. Marnilla, and H.S. Gill. Milk Immunoglobulins and complement factors.
    “In a study by Korhonen et al. (1995), all colostrum samples
    derived from normal healthy cows were naturally bactericidal
    against H. pylori, whereas none of the milk samples
    from the same animals showed bactericidal activity.”
    Please note that this study demonstrates the bactericidal potential of colostrum, not milk. It deals with milk in the sense that it acknowledges the potential of isolating the immunoglobulins from (immunized) cows in order to then culture cells in the lab.
    In no way does it suggest that raw cows milk is self-regulated, if you will. This study does nothing to suggest that the levels of immunoglobulins present in milk (not colostrum) offer safety for human consumption or in anyway would be effective (unless the cow is hyperimmunized). Emphasis effective.
    Care to remove that reference, as well?

  • Once again, Michael Bulger has used a variety of cheap debate tricks in his ongoing campaign to mislead readers by smearing those of us who disagree with his Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) approach to food safety. His comment above, shown as having been posted by him at 10:50 AM on 2-16-11, is a good example.
    All FSN comments are moderated so the times listed are the time in the Pacific Time zone that they were posted into FSN’s system, NOT the time the time the comment was published. A comparison of the times of the 2 comments before his (mine and Judith McGeary’s at 5:46 AM and 10:12 AM respectively), and his (10:50 AM) and an analysis the content of them plus his later comment shows that my comment was the only one posted at the time he made his and that he is clearly responding to mine.
    Michael Bulger’s first paragraph illustrates one of his most common, cheap debate tricks – Bulger falsely reports what I wrote in my comment. Bulger wrote, “To say that FARFA led the effort to include the Tester Amendment…” But, then, I didn’t say that. Rather, I wrote, “FARFA and the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) led the effort.” I wrote that BOTH, not just FARFA led the effort.
    A second Bulger debate trick is to then seemingly graciously state this thing I didn’t write is false by simply characterizing it as “overstated.”
    Have I “overstated” FARFA’s role in the inclusion of Tester-Hagan? Absolutely not!
    How do I know FARFA’s role in the inclusion of Tester-Hagan? Because I worked full-time (within the Healthy Food Coalition) for the inclusion of a Tester-Hagan type threshold in the Senate version of the FSMA from July, 2009 through the passage on 11-30-10 of the S 510 version of the FSMA. Please note my starting date was over 8 months before Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) first proposed his amendments near the end of March 2010. Judith McGeary work even longer than that with WORC to find a Senator willing to sponsor the need amendments.
    On the other hand, how would Michael Bulger know FARFA’s role when he was only an outside supporter of the FSMA who didn’t enter the fray until long AFTER Tester had first proposed his amendments? In fact, it appears he only joined in the debate on 8-4-10 on Marion Nestle’s blog, “Food Politics,” after entering the food studies program at NYU where Nestle is a professor. I urge readers to look at his blog, “Smart Culture Kitchen – Anthropologist-Cook Turns Graduate Student!” (http://smartculturekitchen.blogspot.com/) which began on 3-2-10 and has no entries after 11-30-10. Despite blogging since 3-2-10, he didn’t make an entry on the FMSA until 8-9-10. You’ll note there are no comments from me. Why? Because he blocked all of them.
    If you want to clearly see how limited Michael Bulger’s involvement in this issue has been, simply read through the long comments on his professor, Marion Nestle’s, blog entry, “We need S 510 to pass, despite tea bagging.” The blog entry with comments starts on http://www.foodpolitics.com/2010/08/we-need-s-510-to-pass-despite-tea-bagging/comment-page-1/#comments. The second page which is almost entirely a debate with him is accessed by clicking “newer comments” at the very bottom. Apparently, that is when he first entered the fray. The second paragraph of Bulger’s 12:45 PM entry on 8-4-10 reads, “I have not read S. 510, but hope that reasonable efforts are being made to improve a system that is antiquated.” Despite this, he shortly began acting as if he were an expert with long experience. (BTW, Dr. Nestle blocked my first comment in which I pointed out that she had quoted me out of context and never contacted me on the subject.)
    A third Bulger debate trick is to falsely characterize his target in general terms without any documentation. His second paragraph begins, “Regardless, McGeary has now focused her efforts on misleading legislatures regarding the science of raw milk.” I had just pointed out that Ms. McGeary is a member of the committee appointed by Sec. of the USDA, Tom Vilsack, on NAIS so how can she be “now focused” on raw milk? But even that mischaracterization isn’t enough. Bulger then makes a general accusation that she is “misleading legislatures regarding the science of raw milk.” And, once again, he offers no documentation to support his claim. Bulger follows this with additional paternalistic personal attacks on Ms. McGeary and closes with a last blast, “It’s disappointing to see them waste our time and tax money putting forth unsubstantiated claims. Once again, they’re ‘FARFA’ the truth.”
    The combination of these is Bulger’s fourth debate trick—he completely ignores the thrust of a trenchant comment by his target and attempts to divert the debate away from it with a variety of comments from sly to outrageous to lame attempts at humor.
    The on-line magazine, Grist, defines a “troll” as a “commenter who makes outrageous or provocative statements purely in order to derail discussion” and follows up with “You know who you are.” As Bulger’s comment clearly responds to mine and completely ignores the thrust of my comment (i.e., the contrast between how FSN reports the activities of groups like FARFA and CSPI), I hope it is clear to everyone that his comments are seldom more than those of a sophisticated troll.
    Finally, I would be astonished if Michael Bulger doesn’t know that responding to his comments requires a lot more time from people like me than his initial comments do. Thus, he knows that his actions will siphon away valuable time from our side’s efforts.
    I have taken the time because he has artfully hidden the truth about my friend and fellow hard worker for local, healthy food, Judith McGeary, under a patently false appearance. In a word, Michael Bulger is a dissembler and I loathe dissemblers.
    As always, I will happily respond individually to any questions or comments about what I have written, if sent to me at healthyfoodcoalition@gmail.com.

  • Doc Mudd

    Excellent points Michael! Very well reasoned and scientifically accurate. Bravo to you for wading waist-deep into the trademarked tedium of the professional sophists’ rant. It’s thankless work, but vital.
    FARFA’s raw milk blurb & bibliography makes for an ideal laboratory exercise in ferreting out and understanding the all-too-common application of ‘cherrypicking’ to craft convincing ‘junk science’.
    As a rule, any three organizations like FARFA, WORC and WAPF implicated together unmistakably triangulates the location of a veritable mother-lode of junk science sophistry. Better than GPS!

  • In the 3rd to last paragraph of his 7:55 AM comment on 2/17/11, Michael Bulger wrote the following about Judith McGeary:
    “In a fashion similar to other scientific justifications you put forth, the limited citing and misinterpretation of study results has put you in the position of misleading the public and our government. If I retained the ability to use similar deceptions to bilk the public out of monetary donations and employ myself profitably in this area, as you have, I might spend my leisure revealing the underlying truths on which you build your fallacies.”
    Bulger’s attack on Ms. McGeary’s character, rather than her arguments, is unconscionable. To sit idly by without decrying it, is to condone it. I will not condone it nor will I condone Food Safety News’ having provided him with an on-line platform for his attempted character assassination.
    Bulger’s attack clearly shows the shallowness of his commitment to the open, honest, accurate debate of ideas which is at the heart of science. It also further reveals that his comments are nothing more than a façade. They have no real substance.
    When Ms. McGeary pointed out to him that he knew his accusation was false at the moment he made it, Bulger buried his politician’s apology (“I apologize for what you took as an attack.“) in the middle of additional specious claptrap.
    I say again, Michael Bulger is a troll. He makes outrageous and provocative statements purely in order to derail genuine attempts to discuss the content of Dan Flynn’s article.

  • Michael Bulger

    I’m still the only one who offered the actual content of scientific studies and demonstrated how they pertained (or did not pertain) to FARFA. In addition, I apologized to Ms. McGeary. I also do not call people trolls. Or spend unknown amounts of time dissecting other posters’ histories in some strange and lengthy attempt to prove a point that no one is listening to/reading/cares about.
    In the future, I will try not to take others clear skewing of scientific research in the pursuit of ends that would endanger the health of unsuspecting people as justification to “call someone out”.
    The facts remain. I presented accurate interpretations at the invite of McGeary. She promptly demonstrated her intention to not correct her website. I think the character of those involved is on display.

  • Michael Bulger is a snarky commenter and seems to specialize in personal attacks and insults. I wouldn’t listen to anything he says until he starts being respectful and aware that there are many things he doesn’t know.
    My family has owned a cowshare for several years. We have never been sick, not once from raw dairy consumption. In the same time frame, I have had food/waterborne illness twice. I would say, in my experience, that raw milk is an incredibly safe food compared to others on the open market. It should not be discriminated against to protect the dairy processor’s monopoly.
    I commented on another article, and Michael B. commented afterwords, making smearing type statements about others. I would defend Judith’s integrity to the hilt, and discount anything this guy says…

  • Here is a letter to the editor from a soil scientist who prefers raw milk. He grew up on an organic dairy farm and claims that raw dairy production is central to true organic farming. This is a farm equity and free trade issue, not a food safety one.
    http://www.mycentraljersey.com/article/20110219/NJOPINION0201/102190322/Raw-milk-the-key-for-NJ-farmers

  • Michael Bulger

    It’s not what I say, Ms. Hartke. It’s the researchers.
    As it is, I have no problem with your disapproval of my comments. They are validated by the very research your clients cite.
    If you must imagine a conspiracy of business and government in order to explain why the laws are as they are, so be it. I am not an advocate of a consolidated dairy industry. I purchase local, grass-fed organic milk from an from well-respected sustainable dairy company (five cow rating from Cornucopia Institute). How do I fit into this conspiracy?
    I don’t.
    When I present the science, I’m met with a mini-smear campaign that calls me out on “snarkiness” and disparages my name. I’m told that it is conspiracy. No one seems to want to address the issue that when an advocate of local, organic, sustainable food systems takes a look at the science and epidemiology, the claims are unsupported.
    I will tolerate any level of personal attacks. The facts speak for themselves and I’m proud to present them honestly.

  • In the 3rd to last paragraph of his 7:55 AM comment on 2/17/11, Michael Bulger wrote the following about Judith McGeary:
    “In a fashion similar to other scientific justifications you put forth, the limited citing and misinterpretation of study results has put you in the position of misleading the public and our government. If I retained the ability to use similar deceptions to bilk the public out of monetary donations and employ myself profitably in this area, as you have, I might spend my leisure revealing the underlying truths on which you build your fallacies.”
    Bulger’s attack on Ms. McGeary’s character, rather than her arguments, is unconscionable. To sit idly by without decrying it, is to condone it. I will not condone it nor will I condone Food Safety News’ having provided him with an on-line platform for his attempted character assassination.
    Bulger’s attack clearly shows the shallowness of his commitment to the open, honest, accurate debate of ideas which is at the heart of science. It also further reveals that his comments are nothing more than a façade. They have no real substance.
    When Ms. McGeary pointed out to him that he knew his accusation was false at the moment he made it, Bulger buried his politician’s apology (“I apologize for what you took as an attack.“) in the middle of additional specious claptrap.
    I say again, Michael Bulger is a troll. He makes outrageous and provocative statements purely in order to derail genuine attempts to discuss the content of Dan Flynn’s article.

  • Doc Mudd

    The plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘evidence’.
    You’ll never go too far wrong by sticking with the facts:
    http://www.realrawmilkfacts.com/

  • Marco Hoffman

    Ms. Hartke: Your personal experience with raw milk is not proof that it is safe. I could ride my bicycle without wearing a helmet and never get injured, but helmet-less cycling is still risky behavior. You’ve made a personal decision to gamble with raw milk. So be it. But why do you try to foist it on others, including children, with fabricated reports of health benefits and fantasies about it being safe because it’s “natural?” E. coli, salmonella, campylobacter are natural. Like Michael Bulger, I drink organic, pasteurized milk. I buy my groceries from my local co-op and farmers market. I’m not employed by nor am I in thrall of Big Ag or Big Dairy or Big Government, or whatever conspiracy you imagine is preventing you from enjoying “food freedom.” I am grateful to Michael for spending the time to counter all the misinformation you and your cronies put on the Internet that may ultimately make someone very, very sick with what will have been an entirely preventable illness. There is a public cost, Ms. Hartke, to sending us back to the bad old days.

  • Michael, you keep attacking a false target. Your critiques would be valid if I had ever said: “X study shows that raw milk is safe, no matter how it is handled.” But I never have said anything like that because I don’t believe it’s true.
    To the contrary, the very first bullet point on the “Learn More” page of my website summarizes CDC data for Texas and then states: “Any food carries some risk of foodborne illness, but as shown above (see Existing Regulations, below) [sic], licensed raw milk farmers take extensive precautions to ensure the safety and quality of their product.” In the discussion of the regulations, I state: “We are not recommending any changes to the extensive regulations placed on Grade A producers that address health and safety concerns, found at 25 TAC Chapter 217.”
    On the same page, my statement about the safety of raw milk is that it contains numerous components that “assist in” killing pathogens, with the citation to multiple studies. And the studies, individually and taken together, support that statement.
    For example, the Korhonen study you attack states (capitalization added):
    “The complement system plays a major role in the host defence mechanisms against infectious microbes, as it is involved both in specific and non-specific immunity. It is a complex system of over 20 different proteins that can be activated by antigen±antibody complexes (classical pathway), by certain carbohydrates (lectin pathway), or by a variety of surfaces that are not protected by natural inhibitors (alternative pathway).” …
    “Apart from serum, the complete complement system can be found in bovine colostrum, and COMPONENTS OF THE SYSTEM ARE PRESENT IN MILK.” (p.S77)
    “In colostrum, Igs make up 70±80 % of the total protein content, whereas IN MATURE MILK, immunoglobulins account for only 1- 2 % of the protein (Larson, 1992). (p.S76)
    “Bovine colostrum AND MILK are known to contain A LARGE NUMBER OF NATURALLY OCCURING ANTIMICROBIAL SUBSTANCES (Reiter, 1985; IDF, 1991; Pakkanen & Aalto, 1997; Regester et al. 1997). Among them, the antibody-complement system is considered as the major agent of the antimicrobial activity of colostrum.” (p.S77)
    The study concludes: “The biological function of COW’S MILK, and especially that of colostrum, is not only to give nourishment to the offspring but also to provide it with an immune protection against environmental pathogens. Cow’s colostrum AND MILK contain virtually all compounds of bovine cellular and humoral immune defence, including antibodies and complement proteins.” (p.S78)
    The bottom line is that the study has numerous statements throughout it that show that, while colostrum has more compounds and higher levels of them, raw milk contains numerous compounds that are involved in immune response in different ways. The other studies I cite either contain similar materials or focus on one or two specific compounds in more depth.
    The sentences you chose to quote reflect the authors’ underlying goal: to explore whether “isolating bovine colostral Igs from cows, following immunisation against pathogens,” would be a “potential strategy for the prevention and treatment of gastrointestinal diseases in humans.” (p.S75) The study’s conclusion re-iterates that the authors are interested in attempting to isolate compounds from milk to prevent and treat disease. (p.S78) The level of immunological activity needed to treat a person who already has a gastrointestinal disease is much higher than what would be needed to help maintain the safety and freshness of a well-cared for product. You have taken statements made by the scientists in the context of analyzing isolated disease treatments and sought to use them to rebut a very different clam — that raw milk contains these compounds and that assist in killing pathogens
    The FAO study you cite takes the same approach you seek to impose here: it looked to whether a single factor (lactoperoxidase) was enough to overcome unsanitary conditions of raw milk being transported in developing countries with the intention of pasteurizing it. I would not be willing to drink such milk myself. That is very different from raw milk produced by a licensed dairy in Texas that keeps a neat paddock leading into a clean barn, tests each animal for specified diseases annually, uses sanitized containers and equipment, quickly chills the milk, tests the milk regularly, and more — all requirements that would remain unchanged under the proposed bill.
    The only thing you’ve proven wrong are contentions and statements I’ve never made. Until and unless you address comments that I have actually made, I am not going to spend time responding again.

  • Marco–The “bad old days” you refer to are chronicled in an excellent book called The Untold Story of Milk by Ron Schmidt.
    Milk, whole unprocessed milk, is a traditional food of many cultures around the world. The Bad Old Days happened when swill dairies and animal abuse started to happen in the industrial age. As American’s, “by policy” have clung to industrial dairying, pasteurization has become institutionalized.
    People like myself, source milk from traditional, pasture grazing dairy farmers. Cows exposed to sunshine, green grass, exercise, and not given drugs, hormones, and farmers using sanitary milk handling protocols are what we look for in our source of milk. We are educated consumers and feel that this milk is safe and nutritious.
    No one is trying to ‘foist’ anything on anyone. But I do feel the need to educate others about quality differences between production methods. And to defend traditional animal husbandry and nature’s perfect food.
    Plus, I am taking the ‘risk’ as you call it, to address a serious health issue. I am motivated to seek a higher quality product as part of an overall lifestyle change. Most raw milk consumers have similar health challenges, that frankly, our conventional foods do not have the capacity to heal.
    Here is the original http://realmilk.com website, if anyone cares to read more about the issue. It is the Campaign for Real Milk, launched by the Weston A. Price Foundation. http://westonaprice.org.
    I am the publicist for WAPF, as well as a member of the organization. I blog about raw milk and food politics at http://hartkeisonline.com.
    By the way, it would be nice if Doc Mudd and Michael B. disclosed their affiliations on this thread. They may have elsewhere, but I do not know who they are.

  • Doc Mudd

    Cherrypicking and hairsplitting, none of it significant or relevant to the spurious notion that unpasteurized milk contains elements sufficiently bioactive and in sufficient concentration to impact human health one way or the other.
    The cited Korhonen paper currently being quibbled over is plucked from among a set of papers speculating upon possibilities for CONCENTRATING useful bioactives from milk.
    http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayIssue?jid=BJN&volumeId=84&seriesId=0&issueId=S1
    Nowhere in this set of documents is there any assertion or implication that ordinary ‘raw milk’ contains complement system bioactives in sufficient concentration to exert any significant positive effect upon human immune function. To hint or suggest otherwise with the purpose of misleading gullible readers to believe you have a medical breakthrough is quackery, pure and simple.
    Between the gratuitious bashing of perfectly healthy conventional foods and the outright misleading sophistry of the raw milk movement a threshold of responsible logic has been egregiously exceeded by the dangerous prancing “raw milkie” clown circus.
    Or, as venerable Texas Ranger, Cap’n Gus McCrae so succinctly put it; “That…is…enough”…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23UhypY-pUg
    Let’s lighten up, people, and get our facts straight, shall we?

  • As the president of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund and a fellow FTCLDF board member with Judith the past three-and-a-half years, I know she has sacrificed a lot of potential income working in this area of the law. To say she is bilking the public out of monetary donations and is employing herself profitably as executive director of FARFA could not be further from the truth; it is an unjust attack on her character and way out of line.

  • Doc Mudd

    A lot of proud affiliations to notoriously dubious acronyms represented on this thread: FARFA, FTCLDF, WAPF, WORC, the WealthyFoodsCoalition (WFC?), and probably a couple I’ve overlooked (but not intentionally, so don’t get your feelings hurt).
    Anyway, that’s a lot of organized propaganda power all concentrated in one place!
    Oh well, I’m satisfied to have no affiliation except “educated consumer and taxpayer”. In fact, if I woke up the morning after with one of those inbred activist cult acronyms tattooed on my butt I wouldn’t be any less taken-aback than if I’d awakened with a chancre. Sure as heck wouldn’t be braggin’ to sensible folks about it.

  • Michael Bulger

    What’s out of line is suggesting that the “antibiotic” properties have any bearing on the discussion of whether expanded access to raw milk should be legal. The studies don’t demonstrate any appreciable level of effectiveness. I would not be surprised if a judge took offense at being presented with such irrelevant, erroneous, and frivolous information.

  • On 2/19/11 at 4:44 PM, Michael Bulger wrote, “No one seems to want to address the issue that when an advocate of local, organic, sustainable food systems takes a look at the science and epidemiology, the claims are unsupported.”
    The lie of this broad, totally unsupported (and indefensible) swipe at ALL of us supporting local, healthy food was clearly shown at 8:17 AM the next morning (2/20/11) when Judith McGeary made a 744 word, point by point response to his earlier exposition.
    In his 12:57 PM 2/21/11 post, Bulger, as usual, chose to forego an actual debate of the issues previously raised. He didn’t even give Ms. McGeary the courtesy of any direct response. Rather, he used another of his debate techniques–indirect criticism. While not address Ms. McGeary directly, it was clear that it was her “information” he described as “irrelevant, erroneous and frivolous.” Of course, it isn’t. Rather, it demonstrates genuine scientific debate.
    Ever since last August, I have watch Bulger do this again and again. He refuses to walk all of his seemingly scientific talk.
    Fortunately, I believe this exchange of comments clearly reveals his character AND the character of those who have been willing to engage him. I hope that those reading it will understand fully who each of us is.
    Now it is time for me to also move on.

  • Michael Bulger

    As I said, none of the research that McGeary presents would lead a reasonable person to believe that raw milk is made safer by the low-levels of semi-functioning antibacterial material present in some raw milk. It is unreasonable to bring these properties into the discussion.
    Judith has failed to demonstrate the relevance of these properties to the consumption of raw milk by humans. In doing so has served to illuminate, for those of us who take the time to check her facts, that raw milk does not gain any appreciable levels of safety from these properties.

  • “I hope that those reading it will understand fully who each of us is…Now it is time for me to also move on.”
    Yeah, I think we’ve got all your right hat sizes. Thanks for the wooden nickles. Happy trails to ya’, pardner.

  • On 2/19/11 at 4:44 PM, Michael Bulger wrote, “No one seems to want to address the issue that when an advocate of local, organic, sustainable food systems takes a look at the science and epidemiology, the claims are unsupported.”
    The lie of this broad, totally unsupported (and indefensible) swipe at ALL of us supporting local, healthy food was clearly shown at 8:17 AM the next morning (2/20/11) when Judith McGeary made a 744 word, point by point response to his earlier exposition.
    In his 12:57 PM 2/21/11 post, Bulger, as usual, chose to forego an actual debate of the issues previously raised. He didn’t even give Ms. McGeary the courtesy of any direct response. Rather, he used another of his debate techniques–indirect criticism. While not address Ms. McGeary directly, it was clear that it was her “information” he described as “irrelevant, erroneous and frivolous.” Of course, it isn’t. Rather, it demonstrates genuine scientific debate.
    Ever since last August, I have watch Bulger do this again and again. He refuses to walk all of his seemingly scientific talk.
    Fortunately, I believe this exchange of comments clearly reveals his character AND the character of those who have been willing to engage him. I hope that those reading it will understand fully who each of us is.
    Now it is time for me to also move on.