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Hunger Strike to Go ‘Until Death’ Says Raw-Milk Farmer

For Canadian raw-milk farmer Michael Schmidt, a citizen’s fundamental right to choose what he or she eats is a matter of life or death. Literally.

On Sept. 29, he began a hunger strike, which he describes as the continuation of his efforts over the past 17 years to engage the authorities in a “constructive dialogue about the issue of non-pasteurized milk in Ontario and Canada.”

In Canada, it is against the law to sell or distribute raw (unpasteurized) milk or cream, although dairy farmers and their families are allowed to drink raw milk from their own cows.

In an Oct. 19 interview with Food Safety News, Schmidt, 57, who was in the 20th day of his hunger strike, said he “had to admit” that he was struggling with “real energy loss” and has had to stop working.

He has lost more than 30 pounds and is subsisting on only water.

But he made it clear that he’ll “keep going until death” if Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty won’t agree to meet with him in person about raw-milk issues and what he describes as “responsible food freedom.”

“The end of my hunger strike is dependent on it,” he told McGuinty in an Oct. 18 letter, referring to his request for a meeting.

“A political resolution to this must be found,” Schmidt told Food Safety News. “Right now, no one in government is listening.”

In the same letter, he also told McGuinty that in the many years he’s been trying to get some constructive dialog going on raw milk, his farm has had to endure raids by armed officers, his family has been terrorized, and he’s been dragged through the courts — first being acquitted and then being found guilty of providing raw milk to members of his farm’s cow-share program.

Under a cow-share program such as the one at Schmidt’s Glencolton Farms, consumers own shares in the cows and therefore aren’t actually buying milk from the farm.

“It’s not our milk, it’s their milk,” Schmidt said.

Although a court decision last year found Schmidt innocent of the charges of selling and distributing raw milk and raw-milk products, a legal decision last month said a cow share doesn’t give Schmidt a “farm family exemption” from the laws against selling and distributing raw milk.

Schmidt hadn’t yet heard personally from the Ontario premier when he talked with Food Safety News, but he said that McGinty, in an interview on Global TV, a Canadian network, indicated he didn’t want anyone to be hurt in the hunger strike.

A spokesperson in McGuinty’s office confirmed that McGuinty hadn’t yet responded personally to Schmidt’s letter but that the letter is being reviewed.

A media release from the premier’s office ended with this sentence: “In regards to Mr. Schmidt’s hunger strike, we would never want anyone to put their health and/or safety at risk.”

The earlier paragraphs of the release pointed to the potentially harmful health effects of drinking raw milk and said the case against Schmidt has gone through the appropriate appeals process.

A Canadian health official told reporters that Canada’s concern about raw milk is primarily the harmful form of  E. coli, which can sicken and kill people who drink raw milk containing it.

With the premier busy preparing to appoint members to his cabinet on Oct. 20, Schmidt said he wasn’t surprised that he hadn’t heard from him yet but hopes it will happen once the new cabinet members are sworn in.

“I think once that happens, the direction will be clearer,” he said.

His hunger strike has attracted attention and support from raw-milk drinkers and food-freedom advocates across the globe. In the United States, Wisconsin raw-milk farmer Vernon Hershberger has joined Schmidt in the hunger strike, embarking on a diet 3 days a week of 2 raw eggs and one glass of raw milk per day.

In a letter on The Bovine blog, which is keeping people informed about the hunger strike, Hershberger, who has tangled with authorities in his state over raw milk, said he has lost 15 pounds so far and that his sons are pitching in to help him with the more strenuous tasks on the farm.

Wisconsin raw-milk advocate and activist Max Kane has also joined the hunger strike. He told Food Safety News that Schmidt asked him to to fast only every other day because he was concerned about his health. 

 Kane, who attributes drinking raw milk and eating raw foods (including meat and poultry) to “healing his body from Crohn’s disease,” a serious gastrointestinal ailment, said Schmidt’s hunger strike is a way to bring as much as attention as possible to what he perceives is the truth about raw milk.

For Kane, the hunger strike is part of how social norms trickle from country to country when it comes to social change and a person’s right to chose his or her own diet. It’s all about being able to eat healthy foods, he said.

In the U.S., Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, said the foundation will be sending a letter to the 10,000 members on its list urging them to contact Canadian officials and McGuinty  specifically, about ending Schmidt’s hunger strike.

According to the BackYard Farming blog, there is also a large group in Toronto whose members are on a rotational fasting “in support and respect to Michael Schmidt and others on this Hunger Strike For Responsible Food Freedom.”

In talking with Food Safety News, Schmidt said one of the issues in this ongoing attempt to get the government to sit down at the table is food safety.

He said the problem is that there’s an underground black market for raw milk that’s unregulated.

“That’s where the real danger is,” he said. 

He believes that what’s needed is getting government officials to the table to discuss the issues around raw milk.

“We need to find a proper way to regulate this market so it can come above ground,” he said. 

And while government officials trumpet the mantra that raw milk is dangerous because it can contain pathogens that can sicken or kill people, Schmidt said they aren’t looking at the new studies or the new technologies and information about raw milk that have become available since 1938, when Canada passed a law prohibiting the sale of raw milk.

“The cycle has to be broken,” Schmidt said. “They’re not outlawing other products such as fresh fruits and vegetables and meat that have been contaminated with pathogens. But in the case of raw milk, they keep saying ‘Ban raw milk because it can contain E coli or other harmful pathogens.’ “

He fears that with the growing demand for raw milk, the underground black market for it will continue to grow.

“At a certain point, that’s very irresponsible for government to ignore,” he said. “Let’s bring it above ground.”

Pointing out that raw milk is produced and distributed in a local area, Schmidt said it’s easy to follow the trail should milk be contaminated and make people sick. On that same tack, he said that because it’s a farm-direct product, there’s no co-mingling of the milk from one farm with other farms in the area, which is the case with conventional milk going to a processor to be pasteurized.

“I say that is the real food safety in this,” he said, referring to traceability. “A producer has a limited radius.”

In January last year, Schmidt
started Cow Share Canada, a national organization that provides information and training for food safety and cow health. Farmers who qualify for the program have to be inspected and do testing on a regular basis, and no cow with a communicable disease can come onto the farm.

Fresno, CA, dairyman Mark McAfee, owner of Organic Pastures, the largest organic raw-milk farm in the United States, agrees with Schmidt that pushing raw milk underground can be dangerous when it comes to food safety. He recently formed the Raw Milk Institute with the goal of providing raw-milk farmers with information and training about food safety.

He told Food Safety News that Schmidt is a friend, one who is revered by the people who know him.

A Renaissance man of sorts, Schmidt has a Masters degree in Agriculture and is a classical musician who conducts symphonies and choral groups, in addition to being a dairy farmer and an entrepreneur.

“He’s very calm in his heart, but there’s Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. blood flowing in his veins,” McAfee said. “He’s been pushed to the limit. Everyone’s worried about him.” 

Pointing out that Schmidt has been fighting this issue in the Canadian judicial system for years, McAfee said the hunger strike is an appeal to the administration.

“He’s got to go to the leadership and find a way for raw milk to be available,” he said.

And he agrees with Schmidt that raw milk produced without oversight can be dangerous.

“Or safe,” he said. “If it’s underground, it’s really an unknown.”

Both Schmidt and McAfee say that demand for raw milk is so strong that they can’t even make cheese because so many people want what Schmidt says is “milk the way it comes from the cow.”

In an interview with Sun News, Schmidt emphasized the hunger strike is not about raw milk but rather “the freedom to choose what food we put into our bodies.”

An Oct. 19 request to the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, a branch office of Dairy Farmers of Canada, for comments about Schmidt’s hunger strike and raw milk went unanswered.

© Food Safety News
  • The issue with raw milk is you have a perfectly acceptable safer alternative… pasteurized milk. This product is safer and raw milk has not I repeat not been shown to have any significant health benefits over pasteurized milk.
    As for other foods that have pathogens, there are further kill steps that are supposed to be taken, for example, most people know not to eat raw chicken.
    The biggest issue with the proponents of raw milk is they’re lifting the product to this magical status which it is not and getting others to unwittingly drink it and get ill, especially children who cannot make an informed decision.
    If an adult wants to take the chance of becoming deathly ill, as many do when eating raw oysters and clams I say go for it, but it should not be for sale to the general public. That said, we would still be better off not allowing it all as I think it is unfair that people that knowingly consume raw milk, when there is a viable alternative, put an extra strain on the public health and healthcare system, thus in turn costing the taxpayers additional money.

  • federal microbiologist

    This is farcical.
    I’m supposed to believe that Michael Schmidt is a ‘Renaissance Man’ because he’s engaged in a ‘hunger strike’ in a fit of pique over his inability to sell raw milk ?
    I firmly believe it’s better to have Mike get real, real skinny before he’s permitted to peddle oral-fecal pathogen- laced milk to that dimwitted segment of the public who ascribe magical properties to such a beverage.
    And ‘activist’ Max Kane is joining Schmidt in his hunger strike, because Kane believes drinking raw milk cured his Crohn’s disease ?!
    Someone needs to tell Max that there is an organization of Crohn’s sufferers who believe that drinking inadequately pasteurized milk actually GIVES people Crohn’s disease !

  • Well I suppose if all the raw milk adherents starve themselves to death the market will disappear.

  • Kimm Culkin

    It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that proponents of healthful foods (yes, including raw milk) are losing out because they insist on being civil. Raw milk opponents seem to have little difficulty in expressing opinions without having researched the opposing point of view. A “fit of pique”? Are you kidding? Have you ever talked to Michael Schmidt?
    What do you know about responsible raw milk production? What do you know about the breeding, feeding and husbandry of the cows of the milk YOU drink? I am one of those invisible middle-aged women people love to ignore, and I have raised my family to be civil and tolerant, but we are now being pushed to the point where we have no say in what we put into our own bodies. How dare anyone decide that raw milk proponents are raising milk to a magical status? What do you know about it, really know through your own research, understanding and effort? I challenge you to find a source, read about how a cow’s stomach works, spend a little time researching the opinions you are so quick to denigrate. Enough is enough!!

  • Sandra

    I understand that most people are unaware of the health benefits of raw grass fed pastured milk versus the typical cooked (pasteurized), factory farmed, grain fed (not the cow’s natural diet) milk where the cows receive growth hormones and antibiotics because they are so sickly from the horrifically stressful and unsanitary “warehousing” conditions. In the latter case, there is no way that such toxic milk should be unpasteurized. It is not even fit for human consumption. Grass fed, pastured, chemical free and raw milk, on the other hand, is potentially an extremely safe and nutritious product. There is plenty of emerging research supporting this, however it has been slow to surface because the dairy industry and government pump out propaganda to protect their interests. If this were about protecting the health of citizens, cigarettes, alcohol (known poison), and carcinogenic chemicals that are in our food would be banned. Please, I urge those who are ignorant of the truth to open your eyes, inform yourselves and stop spewing the lies that you have been fed throughout your lives.

  • Mary

    Here is what the Toronto Star had to say about the Michael Schmidt verdict:
    Louis Pasteur was right — and so is an Ontario court ruling against the distribution and sale of potentially dangerous raw milk. Self-described advocates of “food freedom” may lament the finding against Grey County dairy farmer Michael Schmidt, and he vows to appeal. But public safety must come first.
    The ruling by Justice Peter Tetley reverses an earlier, ill-judged decision that had allowed Schmidt to continue his raw milk operation on grounds that the farmer’s “cow share” cooperative did not violate health and safety regulations. While the sale of unpasteurized milk is banned in Ontario, farmers are allowed to drink their own product. Taking advantage of that, Schmidt had people buy a share of his cows and obtain raw milk as a result of their investment. Tetley didn’t accept that marketing dodge, and rightly so.
    Almost 150 years ago Pasteur showed that heating milk to at least 63 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes kills harmful pathogens, including listeria, salmonella and E. coli. The procedure was so effective at saving lives it has become a standard public health practice. Indeed, Toronto was a leader in this area, passing a bylaw in 1915 requiring pasteurization of milk sold in the city (the Star played an important role in that campaign). Unfortunately, akin to the backlash against immunization, some people insist they’re better off without this protection.
    In fact, there is virtually no sound scientific evidence supporting the claim that raw milk improves people’s health. On the contrary, there’s a mountain of data showing it can be dangerous. It’s especially risky for children, pregnant women and the elderly.
    When farmers like Schmidt drink their own raw milk they risk only their own health. It’s entirely another matter to allow legal distribution of this product for consumption by the broader public, especially by unsuspecting youngsters.
    Raw milk advocates claim to drink it with no ill effect. And there’s no reason to doubt them. Most batches, by far, are free of pathogens. The threat isn’t in every glass but in the one, impossible-to-predict sample that carries dangerous illness.
    It’s the same way that Russian roulette is safe — until you reach the chamber with a bullet. Society mustn’t be exposed to that risk.

  • federal microbiologist

    wow…and I thought our old friend ‘Doc Mudd’ occasionally got hysterical with his Comments…… !

  • FoodSci

    Interesting thread.
    Scientific knowledge and empirical and historial data vs. anecdotal evidence and one study about asthma. Which is more likely to be true?
    A federal microbiologist or a middle-aged, polite lady who might just be a professional meeting consultant. Which is likely to be right when it comes to food safety and pathogens?
    You pick.

  • Mary

    How dare anyone decide that raw milk proponents are raising milk to a magical status? “Raw milk is a magic food and we are here to defend that magic food.” — Sally Fallon, May 16 , 2011 rally on Capitol Hill

  • Alan

    Unless everyone in these comments has read “The Untold Story of Milk” by Ron Schmid, they haven’t heard both sides of the story and they don’t know what they’re talking about.

  • itsbaxter

    This issue is freedom of choice. If people may eat raw oysters (as was mentioned), or sushi or raw anything else, then the same right ought be true for raw milk. The unfair singling out of raw milk for banning is evidence of very effective thought conditioning. Cookie dough, peanuts, meats, eggs, sprouts, green onions, spinach, etc. have all been sources of major pathogenic outbreaks. Anyone notice cantaloupe has been linked to about 30+ deaths and hundreds of illnesses lately? Where is the public lobby to regulate, limit or ban these items? Why aren’t insurance companies refusing to insure grocery stores that carry these? It’s gets back to how we’re conditioned to think about them, and what risks we are conditioned to accept or reject.
    If one favors a ban on raw foods for the “public good,” then where does it end? McDonalds customers should be arrested and the chain shut down, smokers should be in jail and their children taken away, junk food should be banned, cars should be banned, dry cleaners should be banned, etc. These extreme examples highlight the 2 paths: either we choose for government to criminalize what they (and their cronies) deem unfit behavior, or we side with freedom of personal choice and responsibility. All other lines of argument about the risks/benefits are irrelevant. For each thing I do in my life that someone else deems “risky” I can look in their lives and find “risky” things I don’t like or approve of. Let’s keep out of each others’ business!

  • Yogi Golle

    In Europe, the sale of raw milk is very common and appropriately controlled to ensure public safety.
    “In Italy, in the past three years, Latte Crudo machines have sprung up all over the country and now raw milk makes up 10% of the entire nation’s milk
    market! In Parma which is a town of 200 000 there are 4 machines easily accessible within the town’s historic centre. Each machine is filled by different local dairy farmer’s daily and you purchase the milk in whichever increment of 1 Litre that you would like. Its only 1 Euro a litre. The milk is filtered and chilled and that is it. Very
    popular here now!”
    You can buy raw milk and cheese in most small towns in the cheese store in Germany.
    In the Netherlands, at least four farms have installed raw milk “vending machines” whereby customers can tap their fresh milk directly from the bulk tanks. Milk sells at €0,60 per liter. These machines are becoming common in health conscious countries like Switzerland and Austria and the manufacturer says there are many requests for information. See http://www.brunimat.ch.
    In addition, all supermarkets sell raw milk cheeses and
    reformhaus (all) sells raw milk of cow, sheep & goat.
    Canada is the ONLY G8 country that totally outlaws the sale of raw milk.
    Europe is not suffering from disease outbreaks due to raw milk sales.
    The bottom line is, Canada’s lawmakers have not caught up with the rest with Europe and the rest of the world in how to legislate raw milk safely.
    This must change so that freedom of choice with regards food is secured in Canada.
    Can anyone tell me what is different in Canada that raw milk is illegal to sell while European countries allow it?
    Don’t tell me that is a matter of threat of disease because we have the science and technology to manage and contain that.

  • Tammy Van Soelen

    Michael Schmidt is fighting for our basic rights as Canadians. I grew up on a farm where I took for granted my access to “REAL” and “un-tampered with” food; fresh vegetables’ from the garden, eggs that came from healthy un-caged chickens that were not a month old by the time I was able to consume them, beef that wasn’t full of carbon monoxide and other dangerous gases in order for it to keep its’ “pink colour”. I have a brother that can consume raw milk and have no problems, but is lactose intolerant when he tries to consume pasteurized products.
    Now that I am grown with children of my own, and no longer live on a farm; I am told that I can no longer have these choices for my family. I am told I have to buy altered and unnatural food that has no nutritional value.
    As a Canadian I am under the impression this is a country that prides itself on being a democracy, not a communist country, where the government tells me what I am allowed to have, or not allowed to have. During the 20 years of Mr. Schmidt’s’ operation no one has gotten sick from consuming his product, but 23 people died when they consumed processed meat from Maple Leaf Foods which is government inspected and regulated company. The government tells us that it is safe to consume meat that is pumped full hormones and gases that if inhaled, are lethal. Does this make any sense? Mr Schmidt is trying to secure our democratic rights as Canadians and he is being called a criminal. Armed officers come to his farm in a threatening matter and confiscate his equipment and dump the milk down the drain. I do not know Mr. Schmidt, but as a Canadian citizen, I do sympathise with what he is trying to do for us. I too would like to have the informed choice as to what my family and I consume. I urge you Mr. McGuinty to sit down with Mr. Schmidt and discuss these issues, because from what I understand, like our fore fathers Mr Schmidt is willing to die for our freedom.

  • Mary

    In Wales and England, raw milk sales are restricted to the farm gate. Scotland has a total ban on raw milk sales, the result of endemic E. coli O157 problems. Ireland says it will reimpose its ban on raw milk sales. Australia requires all dairy products to be pasteurized. Raw milk is banned in Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland.
    Fifty percent of the listeriosis cases in Europe are linked to the consumption of raw milk products.
    To its credit, the EU sets standards for raw milk, not unlike the standards Mark McAfee would like to see adopted in the U.S.

  • Carlo Silvestri

    itsbaxter is right. Give us the freedom to choose our own poisons. Raw milk or GMO? I’d probably choose raw milk. Coke or raw water? Definitely raw water.
    Whatever the scientific evidence is, we should still be allowed to choose. If we want to play Russian roulette, as long as we realize that we have a 1/6 chance of getting the loaded chamber and we accept it, it’s our choice! Don’t be so grandfatherly and protective. We’re adults! We can choose and if we choose wrong, we choose wrong and suffer the consequences.

  • The comments listed here are scary biased, ignorant and simply disgusting.
    In CA 400 stores and 65,000 people per week drink raw milk. No illnesses…no deaths. Safe raw milk!!!!
    Zero pathogens every found in Claravale Raw Milk in 83 years of State of CA testing since 1927. Not one pathogen found in OPDC Raw Fluid Milk in 12 years of state of CA testing!!!! This is not ramdom or a fluke. This is not magical.
    Peer reviewed internationally published studies in Bazel Switzerland prove that raw milk prevents and cures Asthma and Allergies. ( PARSIFAL and GABRIELA .
    Before you hating BIGOTS say one more thing, try doing some independent research and drinking some raw milk.
    Mark McAfee
    Founder OPDC
    Fresno CA

  • Michael Bulger

    OPDC milk has been linked to several illnesses, their cows have tested positive for pathogens, their products have been recalled due to pathogens, and their milk has indicated contamination. But they are business. So they advertise tentative, and at best suggestive, statistical correlation as proof. They also neglect to mention that the published studies warn against using raw milk as a possible preventative measure, even if further research supports the hypothesis.

  • It is interesting that we have significant Listeria and e. coli outbreaks this year and it doesn’t raise the passion that raw milk does.
    A few facts let me rephrase the statement, a few facts that most people accept.
    1) Most Adults don’t drink fluid milk.
    2) Fluid milk consumption is usually linked to European ancestry or influence
    3) About 65% of the human population has some lactose intolerance and it may be as high as 90% in some population see NIH reference
    Why is this significant because when people talk about comparing the US regulations to the rest of the world not all countries even care about milk regulations except for export?
    The US population is becoming more venerable to food borne disease
    “As many as 20 percent of Americans — 60 million people — are more vulnerable to foodborne illness due to their age or health conditions that affect their immune systems, according to a newly published study by British medical researchers.”
    Therefore, it makes it more likely that any mistakes in harvesting, producing, or distributing food will make someone sick. So, importance of following food safety practices will become more critical, Although this is job security for Bill since the level of human stupidity and predisposing factors to make mistakes and ignore them is not decreasing.
    Other issues
    As for regulating choices, the government regulates many choices that we make. You have to be over 21 to drink Alcohol in most states, you have to wear a seatbelt or face a fine, you have to obey traffic laws, you can’t smoke marijuana or eat certain mushroom varieties, you can’t smoke tobacco until you 21, and you can’t poison your neighbor or their pets. The list of prohibitions go on, these prohibitions were done through our elected officials for the benefit of society.
    On the issue of Milk in the US
    There is a vocal group which believes that we should not drink milk at all and that all milk is bad for people and the use of animals for food production kept in any condition is wrong.
    PETA 10 reasons why not to drink milk
    Dr. Hyman MD
    Dairy: 6 Reasons You Should Avoid It at all Costs
    Seven Good Reasons to Avoid Cow’s Milk
    Doctors Sue Safeway and Other D.C. Dairy Retailers for Failing to Warn about Lactose Intolerance
    Cow’s Milk is the “Perfect Food” for Baby Calves But Many Doctors Agree it is Not Healthy for Humans
    Many of you may ask why bring up this issue, first to point out there are more views than raw versus pasteurized. Second, there is another group out there with as many anecdotal reports of cures of variety of diseases by switch from cow’s milk to soy milk. Third, they point out they haven’t seen the disease outbreaks with soy milk that have occurred with raw or pasteurized milk. Fourth, they point out that all other mammals stop consuming milk in adulthood. They continue to list other issues but the point being is there more than two sides to this issue. Additionally, if they had their way, we would not be having this discussion at all since milk would not be available period.
    So where is the rambling post going, I wanted people to consider that milk is not a global food nor is accepted globally so when we compare the US to other countries it should be with that knowledge. Second, food safety will become increasing more critical issue for the US and the population at risk continues to increase.
    Finally, we need to agree to some standards of comparisons for scientific data and case reporting because is no “Truth Fairy” on the internet and I can bring as much bad science to the table as you can so let’s agree to refereed journals. Mr. Marler did several blogs where he tried to compile lists of the evidence concerning milk in its various forms.
    Maybe we can evaluate the discussion to reviewing articles and their merits instead of I grew up drinking raw milk and never got sick or I stop drinking milk and switch to soy and it cured me, etc.
    Lactose intolerance in infancy resulting from congenital lactase deficiency is a rare disorder. Its incidence is unknown. This condition is most common in Finland, where it affects an estimated 1 in 60,000 newborns.
    Approximately 65 percent of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy. Lactose intolerance in adulthood is most prevalent in people of East Asian descent, affecting more than 90 percent of adults in some of these communities. Lactose intolerance is also very common in people of West African, Arab, Jewish, Greek, and Italian descent.
    The prevalence of lactose intolerance is lowest in populations with a long history of dependence on unfermented milk products as an important food source. For example, only about 5 percent of people of Northern European descent are lactose intolerant.
    Sixty Percent of Adults Can’t Digest Milk

  • Alan

    Still the fact that 65,000 people per week are drinking raw milk with no problems is impressive. Bulger uses a key word that is often unproven and unsubstantiated “linked”. You can link anything by association and incriminate the innocent. When they say “linked” I pretty much stop listening. If you can’t draw a direct line and show me the evidence, I’m going to assume that your “link” is biased and unsubstantiated.

  • FoodSafetySci

    If anyone cares the reason the government is regulating the sale of raw milk (and not raw oysters) is because this milk will be consumed by children. What is not harmful to us may be harmful to them. If we do not have appropriate or extensive enough scientific information about the safety of raw milk then we should not sell it to a segment of the population that is more vulnerable to foodborne illness. Seriously, I do not care if adults in this country buy or consume raw milk but unless you can guarantee that children will not consume it then shut up about it. If it is better for you as the advocates claim then they need to spend the money they are currently wasting on ad campaigns and lawyers to fund some actual scientific research about the benefits and safety of raw milk and how to produce and sell it without contamination by foodborne pathogens. That is not the responsibility of the Canadian taxpayer or government. Until then I say we do not let people give this to their children, just like we do not let them drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes.

  • Alan

    Ah yes, playing the child card. From what I’ve read, I wouldn’t want to feed my child ultrapasteurized milk with all the excess dead bacteria parts floating around in it. Perhaps we should just ban milk for kids entirely.

  • Annette Kohn-Lau

    The only time our family got sick from milk was from pasteurized milk. Our oldest son was two years old at the time and I was pregnant. Fortunately, I had a mild case of that e coli infection, but he suffered severe debility for two weeks and then it took him a week to learn to walk again. A few years later, my husband and I stopped drinking milk all together because it gave him stomach aches and it gave me eczema and asthma symptoms. We began to drink raw milk several years ago and we feel GREAT! We are about 20 times healthier than any of our friends. I know many folks in their 70’s and 80’s who grew up on raw milk and were rarely sick…..It AIN”T raw milk we need to worry about with our kids….it’s the GARBAGE they are eating full of sugar, preservatives, pesticides and other chemicals. Look, we are not asking to force anyone to eat healthy…..just asking for the FREEDOM to choose our food.

  • John Q Freedom

    People have been drinking milk for 10’s of thousands of years. Traces of milk have been found in pottery thousands of years old. There are Egyptian hieroglyphic wall pictures that show cows being milked and milk being consumed. I’m pretty sure it was raw.
    If raw milk was dangerous it would have been excluded from the human diet many years ago.
    Unsanitary industrial dairy with improperly fed cows was/is the cause of poor quality milk. Big dairy has to pasteurize. They have to clean up their dirty product. Do you want to drink clean raw milk from small grass fed dairy where you can meet the cows and the farmer or processed dirty milk from a closed door industrial dairy.
    Most milk was raw before about 1940…milk has a much longer history of being consumed as raw than pasteurized. People have gotten sick and died from fully pasteurized milk as well as other foods. The most recent US government data shows that you are 35,000 times more likely to get sick from other foods than from raw milk.
    Yes…big dairy and its friends in big government will tell you raw milk will kill you…lol…the US government said the same thing about marijuana in the 1930’s in order to protect the paper industry…same thing is going on with raw milk.
    Decide for yourself using history and logic as your guide…history and logic have no industry bias.

  • FoodSafetySci

    So this debate is about having the freedom to make your own choices about the food you eat? The reality is that we ask the government to regulate our food system and some foods pose a higher risk of contamination than others. Want them out of the business altogether? Think you can manage it yourself? Or do we let big corporations manage it themselves? Don’t fool yourselves into thinking that raw milk producers are in this for the benefit of you and your children’s health – they are in this business for profit. People are in the market for novel ways to consume foods with limited notions about so-called health benefits and now the producers want to cash in on this market. Like I said before, spend some money to gather some actual scientific evidence that this can be produced safely, otherwise I am content to let the government protect your children from your misguided attempt to be free…

  • Julie

    Raw milk balances your ph because it is neutral. When you pasteurize milk it makes it acidic which is very unhealthy.

  • Paula

    You know what I love? Raw milk supporters (not all, just the ones I have to deal with) who encourage others to do the research and then make up their own minds….which is perfectly fine as long as they reach the same conclusions. If you do the research and then decide that you don’t feel comfortable letting your two year old and five year old drink the raw milk, you are siding with the government, according to them, and you desperately need more education on the subject. All the websites who point out the possible dangers of raw milk, according to them, are government controlled. As a matter of fact, ANY website that disagrees with them in any way is a government website in sheep’s clothing…….I’m sick of it.

  • allan stirling

    The historical cases (morbidity and mortality) have been documented from raw milk including the deaths of young children. Another case of total ignorance to real science vs. junk science. It should not even been an issue-it just proves that food safety education is still along way from educating the public about real risk and risk vs. benefits. Mr. Schmidt gets my vote for a “Darwin Award”. Dumb ass!!

  • chaba

    Why not outlaw driving? Driving is USUALLY safe, but there are still lots of deaths and maimings in accidents. Plus there’s all that pollution. It’s a public health issue that needs immediate addressing.

  • Mary

    Yes, Chaba, like drinking milk, driving can be risky and that’s why driving is a public health issue that has in fact been addressed. Children aren’t allowed to drive, for example. And to curb pollution, the government requires emission controls and checks for vehicles. There’s another safety measure required for driving — seat belts — which is similar to the prevention step of pasteurization for milk.

  • Gulshanin

    In defense of ‘ Pure-Raw Milk’:
    There is no danger in drinking Raw Milk, or rather un-pasteurized Milk. I can vouch about it and prove it.
    I am an Indian African and for centuries we the East African people drank Milk coming straight from Cows sold to us by the African farmers. Who didn’t even have any knowledge of today’s technology.
    The only rule was that as soon as we get the raw milk we should boil it first as we didn’t have the ‘Fridge’ in early days.
    Even after we got the fridge we still boiled it first and then stored it.
    Though, many people drank it raw, and we never got sick nor had any kind of health problems, as the Cows and Goats were
    fed with normal food of pure Grass unlike today’s cows are fed with anti-Biotic and other chemicals mixed.
    Consequently, I don’t understand why the Government is denying people to drink pure raw milk, which is no danger to our health. Unlike the Alcohol, Cigarettes, and other drugs
    and Guns.

  • FoodSafetySci

    Gulshanin, boiling milk performs the same function as pasteurization – it reduces the amount of microbiological organisms which in turn extends the shelf life (stays good longer) and reduces the number of pathogens (microorganisms that make people sick).
    Some of the raw milk supporters are demonizing pasteurization and making people think there is some tricky voodoo science to it but there is not. All it involves is heating the milk at a high temperature (usually 135 degrees Celsius) for a very short period of time (minimum 1 second). The reason boiling is not used is that it can curdle the milk and make it unpalateable.
    Using the term without explanation makes the public think that there is something weird or dangerous about pasteurization when this is absolutely not the case.
    Scientifically speaking boiling is the most likely reason that there was little illness in your culture from drinking milk.

  • John C. Helmfelt

    For a 150 years my ancestors to myself and my descendants have consumed raw milk sometimes boiled sometimes not especially after the introduction of refrigerators as boiling changes the taste of the milk, and none died of it and most lived to beyond 70 years, the oldest still living being 98, 94, 91 and 88.
    The milk on the breakfast table invariably was unboiled being from the first mornings milking, what was over was boiled as in those days there were no refrigerators, on the other hand when I was 4 I used to go and have a glass of milk direct from the cow, I am still here 63 years latter and still drink as much as 3 liters a day when I can, it is the only drink that really satisfies thirst with one glass or two, to do the same I would have to take about 5 to 6 glasses of water or so called soft drinks.
    What happens with the ‘lacto bacilus’ during pasteurization? Do they remain alive? And enzymes, what happens to them? Do not these elements populate our intestines so we can digest our food? And are they not acquired through drinking milk, be it human or otherwise?
    I know that in the case of our first son once he was being introduced to solid foods, he was intolerant to eggs and two other foods that I do not remember at this moment, so we visited his pediatrician and he did not know exactly what could bee amiss, he told us he would investigate the case, in the meantime we visited my parents in another town who received every day from a reputable dairy farm several liters a day of raw milk, during our stay one night his powdered milk came to an end and not at that hour of the night being able to purchase some more powdered milk I said to water down the raw milk on a 50/50 basis and give that to him, well as from that day on all his intolerance to eggs and the other two foods disappeared, on consulting with his pediatrician and explaining what had happened at my parents, he informed us that the intolerance to certain foods is due to the lack of some enzyme that helps to metabolize or digest the food and that raw milk generally has those enzymes, I presume that this is so when they are mainly fed their natural diet.
    So I do not see where all this commotion over raw milk is all about? in the case of pathogen germs I would say that it is a case of non hygienic practices in the handling of the cows and milking processes.
    In my work I have been at several pasteurization plants and I have seen that they all filter the milk, and I have seen what remains in the filters, after seeing that you would not want to drink milk again, so I come to the conclusion that the providers of the milk knowing that the milk will be pasteurized do not bother to much with hygiene of the cows and milking process; on the other hand the prohibition could be a way of guaranteeing the economic viability of the pasteurization plants; I also ask what about the stuff that the filters do not retain, that is in solution within the milk?
    Have a good day.

  • Paleo Man

    Consuming raw dairy is the equivalent of have unprotected sex with every cow on the raw milk dairy, complete with pathogen laden body fluids.
    Things were different in pioneer times when raw milk was taken from one family cow. Since then, E. Coli 0157 has emerged, as it did not previously exist, and it can cause hemolytic uremic syndrome which can kill a person or leave one on kidney dialysis for life. Random spot checks will not assure that E. Coli 0157 is not involved.
    Modern dairy practices, including raw dairy, involve taking raw milk from every cow on the dairy and mixing it in a big vat. So that every pathogen that ANY cow has on the dairy makes it into every bottle or carton of milk sold. The pathogens include paratuberculosis bacteria and bovine leukemia virus, which infect a huge percentage of US herds, not to mention the occasional E. Coli 0157.
    Things would be different if raw milk came from ONE cow and a family drank it and the cow was assured to be absolutely free of the pathogens mentioned. Even then, milk is not a suitable or natural food for human adults due to various factors, including lactose intolerance and the fact that it contains opioid peptides (google that phrase) which are designed by nature to addict baby cows.

  • TS Gordon

    Most of these comments are completely without basis. -Caca! We are not talking about ‘herd’ animals which barely see the light of day. Raw milk is one of the few defenses man has to prevent cancer.
    In the US, the absurd so-called “prostate cancer” rates are just one glaringly direct result of little to no available natural sources of microbes to build our intestinal tracks.
    Heaven forbid humans should consume real almonds.

  • John C

    As a diary farmer of many years and a consumer of raw milk for those years I am staggered at the ignorance of so many very vocal people.
    In Canada milk cannot contain hormones and antibiotics there is a total ban.
    Each shipment of milk from the farm is sampled and tested and each load of milk is sampled and held until the testing is complete. Should a load be contaminated it is destroyed and the contaminating farmer is billed for the entire load, an extreme financial incentive.
    I fail to understand what would be a problem with allowing off farm sales of raw milk as anyone buying it would be well aware that the milk was in fact raw and be what they intended to purchase.
    I suspect that many of the claimed benefits of consuming raw milk come less from its lack of pasteurization than from the lack of homogenization which permits the digestive system to handle a variety of fat molecule sizes.

  • John Cardoza

    Here’s a FACT from the US FDA, quoted directly from the government website:
    “Milk and milk products provide a wealth of nutrition benefits. But raw milk can harbor dangerous microorganisms that can pose serious health risks to you and your family. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 800 people in the United States have gotten sick from drinking raw milk or eating cheese made from raw milk since 1998.”
    The link is here:
    …so, if I’ve read this correctly, approximately 57 people per year for the last 14 years have become ill from drinking raw milk or its end products.
    57 people a year…..
    I think tap water is more dangerous than raw milk.
    Oh, and that’s my real name up there, and you can check the link as well and make up your own mind. No need to make up a phony screen name like “Federal science wizard of food borne illness for the GOVERNMENT” in order to make your comments seem more legit.