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Raw Milk Advocates to Defy Ban in Chicago

On the coattails of last month’s protest at the Food and Drug Administration headquarters in Maryland, more raw milk-supporting moms are planning to defy the federal ban on distributing unpasterized milk across state lines by transporting 100 gallons from Wisconsin to Chicago on Friday.

“What if Santa and his reindeer fly better with whole, unprocessed milk?,” asked Kimberly Hartke, a publicist for the group, in a press email Monday. “Lots of children (and even zoo animals) seem to do better with the farm fresh, white as snow beverage. Moms worried about the FDA Grinch-like police actions against this nourishing food still plan to leave raw milk and cookies out for Santa. It won’t be a sleigh bringing it across state lines, but a bunch of moms in SUV’s.”
 
The group, dubbed “Raw Milk Freedom Riders,” will pick up the milk from a small farm in Wisconsin and serve it at a rally in Chicago’s Independence Park, violating federal law that prohibits interstate distribution of raw milk for human consumption.

“I am willing to risk arrest in order to obtain the foods of my choice from the producer of my choice,” says Mary Gercke, an Illinois mother of three, who will participate in the rally.  “It is abhorrent that Americans risk criminal penalties for getting healthy foods from small family farms or helping other families with the transportation of these foods.  Americans need to wake up to the reality that their tax dollars are used to enforce draconian laws on their neighbors.”

Rally organizers say that the protest is in direct response to the reaction they got from FDA in early November when they carted raw milk from Pennsylvannia to Silver Spring, MD.

FDA issued a statement saying it has not and does not intend to take “enforcement action against an individual who purchased and transported raw milk across state lines solely for his or her own personal consumption.”
 
The raw milk protesters believe the FDA’s statement “leaves the door open for FDA to pursue farmers, buying clubs and individuals acting as ‘distribution agents.’ “The Wisconsin to Chicago Raw Milk Freedom ride will challenge the FDA’s use of force against raw milk distribution — they are pointing out that the mothers transporting the milk will act as ‘agents’ on behalf of other mothers who cannot make the trip.”

Raw milk advocates gained some support in Congress last month. Local food champion and small farmer Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) wrote to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg questioning the agency’s enforcement actions against raw milk producers who have distributed their dairy products across state lines.

Pingree said she believed the FDA’s statement on individuals who purchase and transport is a “step in the right direction” but she “continues to have concerns about some of the practices of the FDA.”

“For example, during tight budget times it appears that the Agency has chosen to commit scarce resources to activities like farm raids and what many believe to be overly zealous enforcement of the ban on the interstate sale of raw milk. When consumers increasingly want to know where their food comes from and that it’s safe, why does the FDA choose to put so much energy into these enforcement activities aimed at small farmers?” asked Pingree in the Nov. 18 letter.

“It also doesn’t make sense to me that, given the numerous food safety scares involving large-scale producers, resources are being diverted to prevent consumers from choosing the type of milk that they want to drink,” she added.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatricians and the FDA deem raw milk a public health risk, pointing to a variety disease-causing pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria that can potentially contaminate raw dairy. According to FDA, between 1987 and 2010 there were 133 outbreaks, 2,659 illnesses, 269 hospitalizations, 3 deaths, 6 stillbirths and 2 miscarriages linked to raw milk and raw milk products.

© Food Safety News
  • Stephen Grau

    I’m wondering what the level of contamination is for raw milk left out for Santa for more than 4 hours. And if “Santa” drinks it will his reindeer have to fly him to the ER?

  • sbemis

    Pingree is a Democrat from Maine, not Minnesota. She is also co-sponsor, with Tim Walberg (R-MI) and perhaps others by now, of Ron Paul’s bill in the House to remove FDA authority to require pasteurization of milk in interstate commerce in final package form for human consumption. This woulld also act to moot out the current ridiculous misuse of scarce government resources in convening a grand jury to prosecute small raw milk farmers in Indiana and Michigan, while those in big ag (peanuts and eggs) escape prosecution after causing deaths and thousands of illnesses. Finally this article makes the usual mistake of confounding deaths caused by bathtub cheeses as raw milk deaths which they are not. The only deaths from fluid milk in decades were three in Massachusetts a couple of years ago, caused by pasteurized milk, and none by raw milk.

  • Carlo Silvestri

    As long as the supplier does nothing to inhibit the consumer’s ability to obtain information about both the benefits and the dangers of raw milk, I would think that it’s the consumer’s right to buy and consume raw milk if he/she so chooses. I’m all for government regulation of things but it ultimately is our right to make the choice.

  • The raw milk folks remind me of those who refuse to vaccinate their kids–they form their opinions more on what they hear on Facebook than based on science.
    The only problem is, society as a whole does pay when people are irresponsible.
    When people become seriously ill from raw milk–which is happening rather frequently lately–government sources have to be used to chase down the outbreak and close the offending distributor/farmer.
    There are more chances for problems to occur with raw milk, then pasteurized milk. There are more outbreaks associated with raw milk, than pasteurized milk–especially when you compare amount of raw milk consumed, as compared to pasteurized milk.
    Therefore, raw milk costs all of us more. We have a right, then, to do what we can to minimize these costs–including requiring processes that help ensure a safer milk supply.
    If you want to live on an island somewhere, or move to a country that doesn’t care about food safety, then yes, you have the right to eat and drink what you want.

  • I have my own dairy goats and drink my own raw milk daily, have it in my cereal, and make my own cheese. It has never made me sick.

  • Steve Bemis

    Pingree is a Democrat from Maine, not Minnesota. She is also co-sponsor, with Tim Walberg (R-MI) and perhaps others by now, of Ron Paul’s bill in the House to remove FDA authority to require pasteurization of milk in interstate commerce in final package form for human consumption. This woulld also act to moot out the current ridiculous misuse of scarce government resources in convening a grand jury to prosecute small raw milk farmers in Indiana and Michigan, while those in big ag (peanuts and eggs) escape prosecution after causing deaths and thousands of illnesses. Finally this article makes the usual mistake of confounding deaths caused by bathtub cheeses as raw milk deaths which they are not. The only deaths from fluid milk in decades were three in Massachusetts a couple of years ago, caused by pasteurized milk, and none by raw milk.

  • Chelle

    Shelley,
    Please do not make claims that are untrue and present them as fact. The following statements “There are more chances for problems to occur with raw milk, then pasteurized milk.” and “When people become seriously ill from raw milk–which is happening rather frequently lately” are completely untrue and are not based on fact. Have you actually look at those numbers or are you just assuming? I don’t think you are educated enough on the issue to make such statements.

  • Chelle, you may not like it, but I’m quoting fact.
    You only have to look through the pages of this site to find a significant number of food safety recalls and investigations related to raw milk and raw milk products. Rarely do you find a recall or investigation of pasteurized milk.
    Now, consider the amount of pasteurized milk produced and consumed as compared to raw milk.
    As a ratio, there are many more food safety incidents related to raw milk and raw milk products than pasteurized milk and products.
    You can close your eyes and pretend not to see the issues, but that doesn’t make them less real. Go ahead, look through the archives for this site:
    http://www.foodsafetynews.com/sections/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/

  • Jennifer Feeney

    Perspective…
    – The CDC reported in 2007 that Poultry was the most common cause for foodborne illness accounting for 17%, followed by beef (16%) and leafy vegetables (14%).
    – From 1997-200, the CDC estimates 438,000 premature deaths occur each year as a result of smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke. There are warnings that smoking is dangerous to your health. Smoking is not illegal. Smoking around your children is not illegal.
    – Cronic illness and disease is on the rise due to the Western diet of highly processed, sugar-laden foods. (http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-01-obesity-children-life-short.html) Our children are expected to have a shorter life-expectancy than us. There is a fast food joint on nearly every corner, certainly at every rest stop, and the food in our kids’ schools is the same highly processed stuff found in fast food chains. It is generally recongnized that it is our right to choose whether or not to eat the highly processed stuff.
    – Eggs, are another raw product that can, and have sickened people (nearly 2,000 people sickened just recently by Decoster’s eggs). The distibution of eggs is not illegal.
    – Lunch meats are known to potentially contain listeria, pregant women are cautioned not to consume them, the elderly are told to heat them http://www.usatoday.com/yourlife/health/medical/2011-05-04-listeria-cdc-lunch-meat_n.htm. Lunch meats are not illeagal.
    – Industrially-produced milk is known throughout the industry to be highly contaminated. Farmers don’t need to keep it clean because they know it is going to be pasturized. (http://www.thecompletepatient.com/journal/2011/1/13/heads-i-win-tails-you-losein-new-twist-fda-says-illnesses-fr.html) Infact, it has been found that if the contamination of the raw milk destined for pasturization is too great, pasturization may not kill all of the contaminates (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM198502143120704).

  • Jennifer, your response is somewhat cryptic, but I’m assuming you’re trying to show that there are incidents related to other types of foods than raw milk.
    Sure there is. However, that’s comparing apples and oranges.
    We’re not talking about how milk compares to chicken. We’re talking about raw milk compared to pasteurized milk.
    How many incidents of foodborne illness can you find listed related to each type of milk and milk product? And since you used the word “perspective”, here’s some perspective: look at the number of incidents compared to how much pasteurized milk is produced and consumed as compared to raw milk. There is many more times pasteurized milk and milk products produced and consumed compared to raw milk and milk products.
    Math doesn’t lie. Math has no opinion. Math isn’t biased. The numbers just aren’t there for raw milk and raw milk products.
    If you all want to make a conscious choice to drink raw milk and it’s legal in your area/state, fine. But don’t tell the rest of us, oh, it’s safer or as safe as pasteurized milk, because the math doesn’t support what you’re saying.
    You can’t wish away the math. You can’t believe away the math. You can’t argue away the math.

  • sbemis

    OK, so here’s the math, which I posted as a comment to the “Raw Milk Myths – Busted” article highlighted on this page:
    I quarrel with Michele in her whitewash of “Myth 7.” Implied in the number drinking raw milk is a comparison of the relative rates of illness between raw and pasteurized milk, data which is available but which no-one seems to want to talk about. The number of people drinking raw milk compared to illnesses has been fuzzy for far too long. I’m not an epidemiologist, but I’d like to suggest some new angles in this debate.
    The 2007 CDC data which reports 3% of the population drinking raw milk cannot possibly mean, as Michele suggests, that only 1/3 of this group is “really” drinking raw milk because that argument relies on the “explanation” that the remaining 2/3 are farmers drinking it from the bulk tank. This means 6,000,000 people were farmers, families and likely employees, who were drinking raw milk from the bulk tank.
    First, if true, this would mean that 6,000,000 people were drinking the most dangerous kind of raw milk, namely milk that was produced with the expectation and reliance that it would be cleaned up by pasteurization. Of course, these folks may have super-strong guts from being habituated to their farm’s menu of pathogens and thus are immune to them. This alone is food for thought.
    On the other hand, USDA reported that in 2006 there only 75,000 dairy farms in the U.S. Since 2006 was one of the years covered by CDC’s 2007 report, we’ll take the 75,000 farms and divide it into 6,000,000 people purportedly drinking raw milk only from bulk tanks. This means on average, that each dairy farm was feeding pre-pasteurized bulk tank raw milk to 80 people. Pretty big families, I would say. But does it really matter? Three percent is three percent, no matter where they are getting their milk, and the illness data don’t suggest that those 6,000,000 people are dropping like flies.
    I would suggest that the CDC study really means that something like 3% of the population WAS drinking raw milk in 2007, meaning 9,000,000 people, meaning it’s very likely more than 9,000,000 people today. I started in 2005, so I’m one of the 9,000,000, but I know lots of people who have started in the last 4-5 years, and I would argue they are part of a much larger number.
    I will admit that illness data suggest that raw milk may well be responsible for more illnesses than pasteurized milk, on a population-adjusted basis (although, pasteurized milk has been responsible for more deaths). Both numbers, however, are tiny. I estimate a population-adjusted illness rate of 0.0007% for raw milk and 0.00007% for pasteurized. I would like the safety/public health community to admit that these numbers are both tiny, and explain the hugely disproportionate emphasis by bureaucrats on taxpayer-funded attacks in the War Against Raw Milk. The hullabaloo present in this discussion is testament to the power of very tiny numbers, and to the power of an out-of-context statistical argument that one tiny number could be ten times as large as another tiny number. With all due respect to those few people who have fallen ill (from whatever kind of milk), the argument against raw milk is ridiculous, perched on a tiny foundation.
    So, let’s move on and let people choose what they want to eat.

  • sbemis

    Apparently I’m not permitted to copy comments previously made, but if you look at my 11/29/11 comment made to the Raw Milk Myths–Busted article (highlighted below), you will see what the math really is. Based on CDC data on populations drinking raw milk and pasteurized milk in 2007, and illness data for both populations from the same timeframe, the population-adjusted illness rate for raw milk was then about ten times higher than that for pasteurized milk, but both numbers are extremely tiny (0.0007% for raw milk and 0.00007% for pasteurized, and only pasteurized had deaths reported). So, the real question here is, why all the attention given to such tiny numbers? No argument that someone sickened will feel differently about this, but in terms of public policy, it’s time to look at the subject in the proper perspective and ask why the government devotes such disproportionate firepower demonizing a food which millions of people choose to consume regularly, with a vanishingly small level of adverse consequence. Grand juries are being convened to prosecute small raw milk farmers, for goodness’ sake, yet big-ag food producers with huge negative impacts of illness and even deaths, walk away.

  • Steve Bemis

    OK, so here’s the math, which I posted as a comment to the “Raw Milk Myths – Busted” article highlighted on this page:
    I quarrel with Michele in her whitewash of “Myth 7.” Implied in the number drinking raw milk is a comparison of the relative rates of illness between raw and pasteurized milk, data which is available but which no-one seems to want to talk about. The number of people drinking raw milk compared to illnesses has been fuzzy for far too long. I’m not an epidemiologist, but I’d like to suggest some new angles in this debate.
    The 2007 CDC data which reports 3% of the population drinking raw milk cannot possibly mean, as Michele suggests, that only 1/3 of this group is “really” drinking raw milk because that argument relies on the “explanation” that the remaining 2/3 are farmers drinking it from the bulk tank. This means 6,000,000 people were farmers, families and likely employees, who were drinking raw milk from the bulk tank.
    First, if true, this would mean that 6,000,000 people were drinking the most dangerous kind of raw milk, namely milk that was produced with the expectation and reliance that it would be cleaned up by pasteurization. Of course, these folks may have super-strong guts from being habituated to their farm’s menu of pathogens and thus are immune to them. This alone is food for thought.
    On the other hand, USDA reported that in 2006 there only 75,000 dairy farms in the U.S. Since 2006 was one of the years covered by CDC’s 2007 report, we’ll take the 75,000 farms and divide it into 6,000,000 people purportedly drinking raw milk only from bulk tanks. This means on average, that each dairy farm was feeding pre-pasteurized bulk tank raw milk to 80 people. Pretty big families, I would say. But does it really matter? Three percent is three percent, no matter where they are getting their milk, and the illness data don’t suggest that those 6,000,000 people are dropping like flies.
    I would suggest that the CDC study really means that something like 3% of the population WAS drinking raw milk in 2007, meaning 9,000,000 people, meaning it’s very likely more than 9,000,000 people today. I started in 2005, so I’m one of the 9,000,000, but I know lots of people who have started in the last 4-5 years, and I would argue they are part of a much larger number.
    I will admit that illness data suggest that raw milk may well be responsible for more illnesses than pasteurized milk, on a population-adjusted basis (although, pasteurized milk has been responsible for more deaths). Both numbers, however, are tiny. I estimate a population-adjusted illness rate of 0.0007% for raw milk and 0.00007% for pasteurized. I would like the safety/public health community to admit that these numbers are both tiny, and explain the hugely disproportionate emphasis by bureaucrats on taxpayer-funded attacks in the War Against Raw Milk. The hullabaloo present in this discussion is testament to the power of very tiny numbers, and to the power of an out-of-context statistical argument that one tiny number could be ten times as large as another tiny number. With all due respect to those few people who have fallen ill (from whatever kind of milk), the argument against raw milk is ridiculous, perched on a tiny foundation.
    So, let’s move on and let people choose what they want to eat.

  • mrothschild

    Not permitted to copy comments previously made? Nonsense.

  • Steve Bemis

    Apparently I’m not permitted to copy comments previously made, but if you look at my 11/29/11 comment made to the Raw Milk Myths–Busted article (highlighted below), you will see what the math really is. Based on CDC data on populations drinking raw milk and pasteurized milk in 2007, and illness data for both populations from the same timeframe, the population-adjusted illness rate for raw milk was then about ten times higher than that for pasteurized milk, but both numbers are extremely tiny (0.0007% for raw milk and 0.00007% for pasteurized, and only pasteurized had deaths reported). So, the real question here is, why all the attention given to such tiny numbers? No argument that someone sickened will feel differently about this, but in terms of public policy, it’s time to look at the subject in the proper perspective and ask why the government devotes such disproportionate firepower demonizing a food which millions of people choose to consume regularly, with a vanishingly small level of adverse consequence. Grand juries are being convened to prosecute small raw milk farmers, for goodness’ sake, yet big-ag food producers with huge negative impacts of illness and even deaths, walk away.

  • sbemis

    I am advised that both of my comments, now published above, were in fact delayed by mistake until I inquired. Thank you for publishing not one, but both of them.

  • Mary Rothschild

    Not permitted to copy comments previously made? Nonsense.

  • Sharon Zecchinelli

    I am just now getting over a food borne illness from having eaten in a restaurant. Gosh, where are the Feds when you need them? I have been so sick for the last week yet the manager of the restaurant could not have cared less when I called him, being the good advocate for clean food that I am, to tell him so that he could take corrective measures to prevent it from happening to someone else. I even told him I didn’t want anything but maybe if I’d had a lawyer speak for me it would have made a difference.
    Ironic isn’t it…I’ve been drinking raw milk for 10 years and have never been sick from it. Eat in a restaurant and pick up e coli just like that.

  • mrothschild

    Sharon: E. coli infection is a reportable disease, which means that if you got a diagnosis of E. coli infection from a confirmed stool sample analysis, your health care provider must by law report it to your state health department, which in turn must report it to the federal database, PulseNet. The incubation time for E. coli is generally at least two days, so rarely is the last thing you ate the food that made you sick. If you know for a fact that something this restaurant served was contaminated, then you must have been interviewed by health department investigators who determined which food made you ill. In that event, you can be sure that the health department has been in contact with the restaurant in question. If, on the other hand, you are speculating about your illness, you may have suffered from E. coli or something other than E. coli — norovirus, for example. Without more evidence than what you’ve presented here, there’s also the obvious possibility that it was not the restaurant’s food but the raw milk or any number of things that made you sick.

  • @Shelley, are you aware of the meta analysis of US CDC data performed by epidemiologist Dr. Ted Beals? His data indicates that you are much more likely to be struck by lightening than to become sickened by raw milk. Indeed, his data indicate that, on a per-drinker basis, you are more likely to be sickened by pasteurized milk than raw milk.
    I appreciate your insistence that “You can’t argue away the math.” But I hope you realize that US CDC data are confusing and contradictory and have uncertain quality in some cases, and that different people with similar credentials and scientific credibility can come up with different results. I don’t ask you to go all the way to the other side; I only ask you to be less dogmatic and admit that good people doing sound research can come up with conclusions very different from yours.
    A big problem is that of research funding. It is easy to say that “most” studies indicate that raw milk is poison, but please consider that corporate agriculture interests have captured most of the funding for so-called “scientific research” these days. But don’t take my word for it, visit the Union of Concerned Scientist’s website, who document that government is increasingly taking the “scientific” evidence of the corporations they are supposed to be regulating without question.
    This is a big, complicated issue that isn’t as simple as “You can’t argue away the math.”

  • AAARRRGGGHHH!!!
    This site strips HTML links, so the references I meticulously hunted down for Shelley didn’t get in. Let’s see if they’ll make it through as plain text:
    http://www.lmgtfy.com/?&q=ted+beals+35,000+raw+milk
    http://www.ucsusa.org/scientific_integrity/science_idol/?utm_source=SP&utm_medium=more&utm_campaign=calendar-12-05-2011

  • Steve Bemis

    I am advised that both of my comments, now published above, were in fact delayed by mistake until I inquired. Thank you for publishing not one, but both of them.

  • First, I do appreciate the detailed and thoughtful responses from those who didn’t agree with me.
    Steve and Jan, it sounds like you don’t disagree with my assertion about the math: there are more food illness outbreaks associated with raw milk than pasteurized milk. But if I understand your arguments, the number of people impacted is so small, why should we worry?
    Why should we care about raw milk, when the number of illnesses associated with it are so small? Because it’s one aspect of food safety where we know a given procedure has a statistically proven benefit when it comes to ensuring safer food.
    I can say with surety: you’re more likely to get sick from drinking raw milk, or eating a raw milk product, then consuming a pasteurized product.
    The math proves this out. The science proves this out. The anecdotal information proves this out. The history of milk proves this out.
    You tell me that the number of people who get sick is small, so why should we care. Why? Because the number of illnesses associated with raw milk and raw milk products is small primarily because the majority of people consume pasteurized products.
    If those who are selling raw milk illegally are not closed down, the greater likelihood more people will get sick. If laws are revoked that restricted the sale of raw milk, the greater likelihood more people will get sick. If we stop pointing out the inconsistencies and just plain bad science put out by the raw milk advocates, more people will consume raw milk, and more people will get sick.
    Our goal should be to decrease the number of people sick because of foodborne illnesses, not increase it.
    Jan, you imply I’m being dogmatic, but I’m not. The math is actually rather glaringly obvious. If anything, I’m puzzled by those who seem to see the math, even agree with it, but still feel that raw milk is maligned.
    And Dr. Beals disregards history when he makes his pronouncements.

  • Mary Rothschild

    Sharon: E. coli infection is a reportable disease, which means that if you got a diagnosis of E. coli infection from a confirmed stool sample analysis, your health care provider must by law report it to your state health department, which in turn must report it to the federal database, PulseNet. The incubation time for E. coli is generally at least two days, so rarely is the last thing you ate the food that made you sick. If you know for a fact that something this restaurant served was contaminated, then you must have been interviewed by health department investigators who determined which food made you ill. In that event, you can be sure that the health department has been in contact with the restaurant in question. If, on the other hand, you are speculating about your illness, you may have suffered from E. coli or something other than E. coli — norovirus, for example. Without more evidence than what you’ve presented here, there’s also the obvious possibility that it was not the restaurant’s food but the raw milk or any number of things that made you sick.

  • nancy

    Raw milk from good clean organic farms and pastured animals being raised properly is NOT dangerous.
    It is the parent’s responsibility to protect their children, NOT the government’s. Government already has too much power and control over our lives.
    One can get sick and die from drinking pasteurized milk (have), or other foods. One can get sick and die from vaccines (many have), one can get sick and die from pharmaceutical drugs (many have).
    You play russian roulette eating the crap phood that the FDA and USDA ALLOW. But that is your right to CHOOSE that phood just as it is my right to CHOOSE raw milk or oysters or sushi or steak tartar or beef carpaccio. Where do you draw the line as to what is allowed or not?
    Answer this: What is your favorite food? Now, imagine I (the government) came along and took it away from you telling you it’s bad for you and you cannot have it anymore.
    While cafos and giant corporations that have produced ecoli laden meats and other things, THEY are not shut down like these good small organic farmers doing it right – by the FDA. They are given a slap on the hand and continue on merrily. They bribe members of Congress, president, FDA, USDA to get their bills passed and to continue harassing and oppressing and shutting down good organic farmers, artisinal cheese makers completely ruining their livelyhoods. When will this nonsense stop?
    If you want to poison your body with vaccines and phood and pharmaceuticals, go right ahead. Keep your head in the sand and keep believing the lies.
    As for me and MANY others, we CHOOSE the foods we want, including raw milk. We are educated and think outside the box. We don’t continue believing the lies pushed by the establishment. We woke up and began questioning why and started learning and educating ourselves. We don’t live in fear. The germ theory was just that, a theory. You don’t get sick because you “catch someone else’s bug”. You get sick because your immune system (your gut) is not being nourished properly as God meant it to be. YOU have control over your health, can’t blame getting sick on anyone or anything else. This is being responsible.
    Why did Rockefeller push allopathic medicine yet he only allowed to be treated with homeopathic medicine? Hmmm.
    There is no money in wellness. It’s all about the money. Government and allopathic medicine does not want you well, the pharmaceutical companies would go out of business . Yes doctors in ER rooms who handle true medical emergencies are needed.
    Don’t go quoting CDC stats or any other government funded stats on things, they don’t fly with me.

  • Shelley wonders why I describe his/her posting as “dogmatic” in a reply that made it quite clear he/she didn’t even read what I wrote, and certainly didn’t read the references I supplied.
    Shelley merely repeated his/her earlier assertions as though they were fact, without backing them up with references — all the while, denigrating the references I provided.
    That is the very definition of “dogmatic:” “to lay down principles as incontrovertibly true.”
    You’re going to have to do better than ask us to simply take your word, Shelley.
    I provided a reference to a peer-reviewed study by a board-certified epidemiologist that shows raw milk and pasteurized milk are about equally dangerous, on a PER DRINKER basis.
    Shelley also asks why any additional risk should be tolerated. I’m guessing that he/she drove a car today, in which case, Shelley suffered a risk of death that is about 780 times more than the risk a raw milk drinker has of becoming ill from that raw milk. Why doesn’t Shelley spend his/her time lobbying against cars, instead?
    But for argument, let’s just say that even if there was some additional risk, Shelley asks why take any risk? Well, for one thing, raw milk reduces childhood asthma by 41% and childhood allergies by 50%: http://tinyurl.com/3rdo79o .
    If you’ve had a child who suffered with asthma or severe allergies — which can be life-threatening — perhaps you should be allowed to take a reasonably small risk of food-borne illness for the 50/50 odds that the asthma or allergies will be alleviated, no?
    “Should be allowed” in my previous paragraph speaks volumes. We who have democratic governments thump our chest and boast about our “freedom,” while allowing bureaucrats to decide what is best for our children — not the sort of country I call “free!”
    Let “informed consent” be the guiding principle. Let people review the studies on both sides, and decide for themselves if raw milk is for them.
    Shelley, I would not force raw milk down your throat. Why can’t you allow me, with as much information as I can gather, to choose to legally drink it?

  • Jan, I pointed people to the archives of this very site. It is obvious–even to the most biased of individuals–that there are more incidents of foodborne illness outbreaks related to raw milk and raw milk products. You point me to Beals, whose only argument seems to be that since the incidents are so few in the great comparison of things, why are we even bothering?
    This is nothing more than a dance around the facts. The facts are–and this is irrefutable–you’re much more likely to get ill from consuming raw milk products than consuming pasteurized milk products.
    You call it dogma, other people would like at it and call it reality.
    If you want to join with Beals and say that the numbers are too small to worry about, or some such thing, fine. But don’t deny the facts that should evident in front of you: there are many more foodborne illness outbreaks related to raw milk and products than pasteurized.
    You point me to the Union of Concerned Scientists web site, which features a rather clever cartoon about pollution, but nothing to do with milk. What I did find was the following, which lists several of the foodborne illness agents, and identifies unpasteurized milk as a source of the illness associated with two of the agents.
    http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/science_and_impacts/impacts_industrial_agriculture/foodborne-illnesses.html
    Beals also dances around the issue by saying, well, we get more sick from this or that product. Hardly anyone gets sick from drinking raw milk.
    He then cha chas around the fact that many people get sick from eating raw milk products–and more people eat raw milk products than drink raw milk, because of the popularity of some cheeses.
    Beals then waltzes to his conclusion that since you’re more likely to get ill from eating beef, or lettuce, or some other product then milk…what is his conclusion? That somehow raw milk is then OK because a bunch of people got sick from eating lettuce?
    Beals uses the Foodnet survey, which showed that 3% of the respondents drank raw milk the week previously. Of course, we don’t have any background on the people, to know how many people who responded to the survey were farmers or directly related to farmers. We don’t even know how many of the people fully understand that the milk they buy in the store is pasteurized–yes, even the organic milk.
    But let’s say the numbers do reflect the general population. What do we know about the milk that these people are buying, as compared to, say, the lettuce.
    Since there are some serious restrictions on raw milk, chances are the people buy the milk directly from a farm, or perhaps from a local health food store. They might buy it from the supermarket, but not as likely.
    Lettuce, though, isn’t as heavily restricted. Anyone can buy a head of lettuce in a store at any time. Any farmer can grow lettuce and sell lettuce. Stores can ship it easily across borders, and (as we found with the recent E.Coli outbreak), there is less record keeping about where the lettuce originates.
    There are fewer restrictions on lettuce. There are also fewer techniques one can take with lettuce to ensure its safety. Certainly can’t pasteurize lettuce.
    Given all this: the much higher consumption levels, the much broader access, the fewer the restrictions, and the fewer techniques one can use to ensure the lettuce is safe, is it any wonder that lettuce causes more foodborne illnesses?
    The very restrictions on unpasteurized milk that you all dislike so much are also the restrictions that have probably ensured that the unpasteurized milk you drink is as safe as it can be. If these restrictions were eased, to say the number of restrictions related to lettuce–and the safety technique of pasteurization eliminated, altogether–how well do you think raw milk would do then?
    The very magnifying glass on raw milk today is actually the thing most likely keeping the milk safer than it would be, if that magnifying glass were withdrawn.
    Any scientist without bias should be aware of this.
    As for why there are the restrictions on raw milk? Because when people get sick from foodborne illness, they add a burden on to society.
    They add a burden to the medical community, which then has to care for the sick–sometimes for life, when it comes to something like E.Coli. They add a burden to the governments who have to invest money in investigating the foodborne illness outbreak.
    When a person gets sick from eating lettuce at a store, the illness is not their fault–they should be able to assume all precautions were taken.
    However, those who eschew precautions–who don’t follow storage instructions, or don’t cook meat properly, or _who don’t use a form of the product that utilizes known safety procedures, such as pasteurization–are doing nothing more than demanding that society absorb the cost of their willfulness.
    Well, I don’t want to absorb the cost of your choice. And that’s why I support strict laws regarding the sale of raw milk.

  • Sorry about the typos in the last comment. It is difficult to write longer comments in these small boxes.
    Also, I believe The Food Safety News Milk Myths story busted the myth that raw milk is somehow beneficial when it comes to allergies.
    But then, FSN cites studies based on science. Tsk.

  • Shelley, did you look at the extensive comments on that page (the patently biased “Raw Milk Myths” page), refuting the “myth busting” with documented references, and which disputed many of the so-called “references” on that page?
    Like I said before, I don’t expect to convert you, but you can often judge the weakness of someone’s argument by how dogmatic they are. Would it hurt you so much to acknowledge that there is scientific evidence supporting many of the health claims of raw milk advocates? Would it be such a blow to admit that, according to official US CDC data, raw milk is treated with disparity compared to many other foods, such as luncheon meat, seafood, and even cantaloupe and spinach, which sicken many more people, on a per-consumer basis?
    I would never claim that *any* raw milk from *any* dairy could *never* make you sick. And yet, the prohibitions and health authority prejudices stem from the key phrase, “May contain pathogens” — something that is true of virtually everything we come in contact with!
    Why are you so dogmatically adamant that *all* raw milk is evil? Do you see any value in allowing legal access in a safe and measured way, versus the current “black market” situation that exists in many places?
    You are roughly 24 times more likely to be struck by lightening than to be sickened by raw milk. You are 780 times more likely to be killed in an auto accident. Life is full of risks — shouldn’t we either be rational and reasonable about risks and benefits, or ban anything that has the slightest risk associated with it?

  • Shelley writes: “Well, I don’t want to absorb the cost of your choice. And that’s why I support strict laws regarding the sale of raw milk.”
    And yet, you seem willing to enjoy the benefits of my choice. Thanks to raw milk, I have an extremely slight “burden” on the health care system, not having visited a physician for years. (Before I started raw milk daily, I’d have at least an annual “bad cold or flu” visit.)
    You seem to love and trust science. A near consensus of scientists claim excess carbon dioxide from human activity is harming each of us. Where does that leave us? I don’t want to absorb the cost of your exhaled CO2. But I’m not going to use your argument that because your existence causes me some cost, that you should not exist.
    I hesitate to make such “reductio ad absurdum” arguments, except in response to the same sort of logic. Your insistence that things that cause you extra cost be banned is going to deny a lot of others their basic rights, unless we focus on the “I don’t want” part of your statement.
    In civil society, you don’t get what you want when it impinges on the rights of others. When you drive a car, you statistically take a rather huge risk that you will deny someone else their right to life.
    Please allow those who, with full informed consent, choose to consume raw milk the same privilege that you exercise every time you drive a car.

  • Jan, now you’re implying that raw milk cures all ills. Come on, seriously?
    And your comment on breathing…really?
    I haven’t a clue what statement you were trying to make related to driving.
    You seem to _believe_ that raw milk is some kind of miracle substance. Nothing I will say will impact on your _faith_, so I’ll discontinue trying.

  • nancy

    So sad that Shelley keeps referring to articles on this biased site.
    I have not been to an allopathic doctor also in 5 years since I started eating a nutrient dense diet, rich in pasture raised meats, eggs from pasture raised chickens, raw milk from pasture raised cows….. NO processed or junk or fast foods, no restaurant meals either. No colds or other illnesses since. The costs of my “choice” are not much either, not in medical vistits!
    Seems Shelley is a FSN groupie – does not think outside the box and lives in fear.
    Guess none of my other comments sunk in.
    Health is all about the terrain of the body, not external issues. Your responsibility to feed it well and stop living off the government handouts on health care.
    For all you others, don’t live in fear of your food, buy from a good local farmer doing it right, raising animals on pasture, not feeding them GMO grains, no antibiotics or growth hormones. You would be amazed at how vibrant you feel and the good health you will possess!
    Oh and BTW, I would not hesitate to eat raw cookie dough IF it was made with organic ingredients and eggs from pasture raised chickens….
    or have some EGGNOG with good raw eggs from pasture raised animals!

  • nancy

    For those truly unafraid and wanting to really nourish your body:
    http://agriculturesociety.com/politics-and-food/11-healthy-and-nutrient-dense-foods-at-a-glance/

  • “Seems Shelley is a FSN groupie – does not think outside the box and lives in fear.”
    Darn straight I’m a FSN groupie. And I’ll be the first in line to buy the Food Safety Network Groupie t-shirt, too.
    Lives in fear? Because I support food safety decisions based on science?
    Beats the heck out of using the Magic 8 Ball.

  • nancy

    There is much corruption in “science” as there is in this site and in government. CDC is funded by government = corruption.
    Jesus said “wide is the road that leads to destruction, narrow is the road that leads to life and few find it”. Which road are you on??? Jesus is coming back soon. Read Matthew 24-26.
    This also pertains to real food. Food as God gave it to us.
    No man-made crap. Real food, raw butter, raw milk, raw cream, organically raised meats on pasture….as mentioned in the article I posted above here for those interested in REAL health and how to nourish yourself properly. When you do that, your body is able to fight disease with our God given immune system and you have life time immunity to those diseases (as opposed to temporary – if even that – from toxic vaccines. check the VAERS data base for damage caused by them – oh but the pharmaceutical companies have been given freedom from any damage caused by them – courtesy of corrupt government).
    RAW milk controversy is about people’s freedom to choose (as I mentioned in another prior comment). TPTB are out to control our food because with that, they control the people (and with chemical laden vaccines).
    Choose the propaganda from this site (fear) or choose real food and real health. Your choice. No “magic 8 ball” here.
    Common sense. But many like Shelley choose the propaganda because they are blinded to the truth.
    The industrial phood system is failing and they are the cause of all the food born illnesses.

  • Well, I’ll take science over blind faith, myth, and superstition, Nancy.

  • nancy

    No blind faith or superstition here, corruption in science!
    http://www.homegrownandhandmadethebook.com/2011/12/whats-so-bad-about-raw-milk.html

  • nancy

    The proof is in my health and many others who drink raw milk and eat real food from good small local organic farmers! Not blind faith or superstition. Common sense says to eat food as God gave it to us!

  • Tribal Druid

    The barrage of present-day bacterial misinformation thrust upon the public is predominantly unscientific speculation regarding raw milk and not based on empirical examination. Possible metabolic or other infectious, and environmental sources of vomiting and diarrhea must be explored where pathogens are found. The questions must be asked: Are pathogens the cause or result of degenerative disease? Are they the cause or the cure? Is pointing the finger at microbes a distraction from the causes of disease? Is the synthetic pollution of our food, water and air the predominant cause of disease that fosters bacterial growth? All hypotheses must be open to independent testing and researchers held accountable to the rules of evidence.
    In 1945 there were 450 cases of infectious disease attributed to raw milk. There were 1,492 cases attributed to pasteurized milk. [Milk Facts, Milk Industry Foundation, New York City, 1946-47.] There was 1 case of disease for every 12,400,000 quarts of pasteurized milk consumed, and 1 case of disease for every 18,900,000 quarts of raw milk consumed. [Letter from Professor Fosgate, Dairy Science Department of the University of Georgia.] In other words, a person could drink 6,500,000 more quarts of raw milk than pasteurized without getting sick.
    In 1945 there was an epidemic of food-poisoning in Phoenix, Arizona. [Darlington, pp.21 and 19.] The official report reads, “Pasteurization charts… show milk was properly pasteurized and leads to the assumption that toxin was produced in milk while it was stored…” There were 300 sick people from this pasteurized-milk food-poisoning.
    Great Bend, Kansas, in 1945, had 468 cases of gastroenteritis from pasteurized milk. This was traced to “unsanitary conditions in dairies, unsterilized bottles”. Nine people died.
    In October 1978, there was an epidemic of salmonella attributed to food-poisoning by pasteurized milk in Arizona involving 68 people. The bacteria level was 23 times the legal limit. The CDC reported that the milk had been properly pasteurized. Yet the CDC continues to tell us that, “…only with pasteurization is there… assurance” against infection.
    In June, 1982, 172 people in a three-state area in the Southeast were stricken with an intestinal infection. Over 100 hundred were hospitalized. The infection, which caused severe diarrhea, fever, nausea, abdominal pain, and headache, was caused by pasteurized milk. [The Atlanta Journal, Atlanta, Georgia, September 24, 1982.]
    In 1983, an outbreak of listeriosis that occurred in Massachusetts 1983, pasteurized whole or 2% milk was implicated as the source of infection. 49 Massachusetts residents contracted listeriosis and 14 of them died. The New England Journal of Medicine concluded in 1985 that since there was no evidence that improper pasteurization caused the outbreak, the legitimacy of pasteurization as an effective eradicator of harmful pathogens was in question. Inspection of the milk-producing plant detected no apparent breach in the pasteurization process. [Fleming DW, Cochi SL, MacDonald KL, et al. Pasteurized milk as a vehicle of infection in an outbreak of listeriosis. N Engl J Med 1985; 312:404-7.]
    In August 1984, approximately 200 persons became ill with S. typhimurium from pasteurized milk produced in a plant in Melrose, IL. The regulators kept this outbreak secret. Without evidence they concluded that the milk wasn’t properly pasteurized. But, again, in November 1984, another outbreak of S. typhimurium occurred in persons consuming pasteurized milk bottled in the same plant. Again, they kept it secret and assumed the milk was not properly pasteurized. Then, in March 1985, there were 16,284 confirmed cases of S. typhimurium resulting from pasteurized milk bottled in the same plant. Tests proved the milk had been properly pasteurized. Investigators with preconceived notions, fueled by the efforts of health departments, came to conclusions without an investigation and had first accused raw milk and the media carried it to the people. Surveys indicated as many as 197,581 persons may have been affected [Raw Certified Milk and Foodborne Illness, 1998.]
    Consumer Reports, January 1974,revealed that out of 125 tested samples of pasteurized milk and milk products, 44% proved in violation of state regulations. Consumer Reports concluded, “The quality of a number of the dairy products in this study was little short of deplorable.” Consumer Reports stated that “former objections” to pasteurized milk are valid today:
    a) Pasteurization is an excuse for the sale of dirty milk.
    b) Pasteurization may be used to mask low quality milk.
    c) Pasteurization promotes carelessness and discourages the effort to produce clean milk.
    Consumer’s Union, reporting in June 1982, stated that coliform were found in many tested samples of pasteurized dairy products. Some had counts as high as 2200 organisms per cubic centimeter.
    Some Outbreaks Attributed to Bacterial Food-poisoning from PASTEURIZED MILK
    1945 – 1,492 cases for the year in the U.S.A.
    1945 – 1 outbreak, 300 cases in Phoenix, Arizona.
    1945 – Several outbreaks, 468 cases of gastroenteritis, 9 deaths, in Great Bend, Kansas.
    1976 – 1 outbreak Y. enterocolitica in 36 children, 16 of whom hadappendectomies, due to pasteurized chocolate milk (1976) Black, R.E.; Jackson, R.J.; et al; “Epidemic Yersinia enterocolitica infection due to contaminated chocolate milk,” New England Journal ofMedicine, January 12, 1978; 298(2):76-79. Milk was purchased in school cafeterias; investigation suggested that the bacterium was introduced at thedairy during the mixing by hand of chocolate syrup with previously pasteurized milk.
    1978 – 1 outbreak, 68 cases in Arizona.
    1982 – over 17,000 cases of yersinia enterocolitica from milk produced in Memphis, Tenn.(1982) Segal, Marian; “Invisible villains; tiny microbes are biggest food hazard,” FDA Consumer, JUL-AUG 1988.
    1982 – 172 cases, with over 100 hospitalized from a three-Southern-state area.
    1983 – 1 outbreak, 49 cases of listeriosis in Massachusetts. (1983) Fleming, D.W.; Cochi, S.L.; et al; “Pasteurized milk as a vehicle of infection in an outbreak of listeriosis,” New England Journal of Medicine,1985 FEB 14; 312(7):404-407.
    1984 – 1 outbreak S. typhimurium, approximately 200 cases, at one plant in Melrose Park, IL.
    1984 – November, 1 outbreak S. typhimurium, at same plant in Melrose Park, IL.
    1985 – March, 1 outbreak, 16,284 confirmed cases, at same plant in Melrose Park, IL.
    (1984-1985) Ryan, C. A.; Nickels, M. K.; et al; “Massive outbreak of antimicrobial-resistant salmonellosis traced to pasteurized milk,” Journal of theAmerican Medical Association, 1987;258:3269-74. Two surveys to determine the number of persons who were actually affected yielded estimates of168,791 and 197,581 persons, making this the largest outbreak of salmonellosis ever identified in the United States.
    1985 – 197,000 cases of antimicrobial-resistant Salmonella infections from one dairy in California. Investigation into this case revealed that the same strain of salmonella had repeatedly been contaminating milk after it was pasteurized for at least ten months prior to the outbreak. Up until that time, it was the largest outbreak of salmonella ever identified in the United States. [Ryan CA, Nickels MK, Hargrett-Bean NT, et al. Massive outbreak of antimicrobial-resistant salmonellosis traced to pasteurized milk. JAMA 1987;258:3269-74.] [CDC. Outbreaks of Salmonella enteritidis gastroenteritis — California, 1993. MMWR 1993; 42:793-7.]
    1985 – 1,500+ cases, Salmonella culture confirmed, in Northern Illinois. (1985) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Milk-Borne Salmonellosis—Illinois,” Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, 1985 APR 12;34(14):200. http://www.cdc.gov/MMWR/preview/mmwrhtml/00000520.htm
    1993 – 2 outbreaks statewide, 28 cases Salmonella infection.
    1993-94 – 1 outbreak, 2014 cases/142 confirmed S. enteritidis due to pasteurized ice cream in MN, SD, WI (1993-1994) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Outbreak of Salmonella enteritidis Associated with Nationally Distributed Ice CreamProducts–Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, 1994,” Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, 1994 OCT 14; 43(40).
    1994 – 224,000 people contracted salmonella infection from Schwan’s ice cream according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine. The pasteurized ice cream premix had been contaminated during transport, leading to an even larger outbreak of salmonella than the one in 1985.
    1994 – 3 outbreaks, 105 cases, E. Coli & Listeria in California.
    1995 – 1 outbreak, 3 cases in California.
    1995 – Outbreak of Yersinia enterocolitica in 10 children, 3 hospitalized dueto post-pasteurization contamination (1995) New Zealand PDF: http://www.nzfsa.govt.nz/ which mentions “10 cases, 3 hospitalised, 1appendectomy. Control measure failure: post pasteurisation contamination.” US reference is Robbins-Browne, R. (1997) Yersinia enterocolitica. InFood Microbiology: fundamentals and frontiers, (Eds) Doyle, M.P., Beuchat, L.R. and Montville, T.D. pp192-215. ASM Press, Washington, D.C.,USA.
    1996 – 2 outbreaks Campylobactor and Salmonella, 48 cases in California.
    1997 – 2 outbreaks, 28 cases Salmonella in California.
    2000 – 1 outbreak, 98 cases/38 confirmed S. typhimurim in PA and NJ (2000) Olsen, Sonja J.; Ying, Michelle; et al; “Multidrug-resistant Salmonella Typhimurium infection from milk contaminated after pasteurization,”Emerging Infectious Diseases [serial on the Internet], 2004 MAY; available at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol10no5/03-0484.htm, accessed 28-May-2007.
    2005 – 1 outbreak, 200 cases C. jejuni in CO prison. (CDC 2005) Summary Statistics. Also mentioned briefly in State of Colorado Laboratory Services Division 2005-2006 Annual Report, page 17, (“The Environmental Microbiology Laboratory recovered Campylobacter from milk samples in the Colorado prison system.”)
    2006 – 1 outbreak, 1592 cases/52 confirmed C. jejuni infections in eleven California prison facilities contracted campylobacter (C. jejuni) from tainted pasteurized milk. (2006) Yuan, Jean W.; Jay, M.T.; et al, “Campylobacteriosis Outbreak Associated with Pasteurized Milk — California, May 2006,” Epidemic Intelligence Service Conference 2007 (CDC), 2007 APR 16; page 62.
    2007 – Three elderly individuals and an unborn child died in Massachusetts from pasteurized milk that was contaminated with listeriosis (L. monocytogenes). Investigators eventually traced the pathogen to some artificial flavorings that had been added to the milk following its pasteurization.
    In addition to cases such as these, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has recorded 155 outbreaks from pasteurized dairy products between 1990 and 2006, all of which are published in the group’s 2008 annual report.
    Professor Fosgate, Dairy Science Department of the University of Georgia, said, “Pasteurization has been preached as a one-hundred percent safeguard for milk. This simply is not true. If milk gets contaminated today, the chances are that it will be after pasteurization.”

  • scrooge

    2,659 illnesses, 269 hospitalizations, 3 deaths
    over a quarter of a century with over 300 million people, so to break that down 1 person died every 8.3 years out of 300 million people. I don’t know about you but im pretty certain I wont be the less than 1 in 300 million. Real question- how many were sickened and killed by pasteurized milk during the same time period?

  • Marco Hoffman

    Jan Steinman: If I’m outside when a thunderstorm starts, I seek shelter. That’s a prudent way to protect myself from lightning. From what I’ve seen when healthy adults and children get E. coli infections — the nonstop barfing, uncontrollable diarrhea that turns to torrents of blood, gut-wrenching stomach spasms, grotesque swelling of the body as the kidneys shut down and the possibility of seizures and brain damage, I’d rather be hit by lightning than take my chances with a food so easily contaminated by cow excrement. But that’s me. You’re free to drink raw milk and most of us really don’t care if you do. In the U.S., there’s no law against drinking the stuff. Various states regulate the SALE of raw milk, but not its consumption. Pretending you’re being persecuted, that someone like Shelley is standing between you and your raw milk, that’s just part of the raw milk cult hype.
    There are no credible questions about the risks of raw milk and its lack of benefits, relative to pasteurized milk — decades of peer-reviewed science and multiple case-controlled studies are clear on that. Ted Beals, the retired pathologist who appears to write about raw milk as a hobby, is not a scientist and merely presents opinions without evidence; there is no basis for his commentaries