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Why I’ll Never Give Raw Milk to My Children Again

Opinion

More than a few years ago, I made a decision that I never dreamed would result in one of my children having to fight for his life. I was looking for a way to improve my children’s immune systems. I was in the process of removing as many processed foods as possible from our daily diet. I don’t really remember when I first ran across the idea of drinking raw (unpasteurized) milk. I bumped into it since I was doing a lot of reading on nutrition in those days. I read about all the benefits raw milk had to offer and that it was life-giving. I read that as long as I knew my farmers and knew that they took all the appropriate safety measures, my family would be safe from scary bacteria. So I jumped in and added it to our diet.

We really liked raw milk. We did see a boost in our immune systems. It became so important to us that we were willing to travel some distance to pick it up at one point. Eventually a food club was formed in our area, and we began picking up our milk there — it came from an exemplary, top-notch farm. We continued happily drinking our delicious, creamy unpasteurized milk for eight years or so with no problems, as far as we knew.

On Monday, Sept. 1, Seamus, our 18-month-old, began having bloody diarrhea, just a little bit at first. He’d been teething for a few days, and I wondered if it could be some crazy, weird teething symptom. It increased as the day progressed, and he began to lose his appetite. Beginning to worry, we took him to our family doctor on Tuesday morning. He thought it was probably viral but ordered a stool culture. We went home and tried to keep Seamus hydrated. On Thursday, when we should have gotten an answer from the culture, we found out there had been a lab error. No answers. We took a fresh diaper to the lab and again went home, still pushing fluids. On Friday, I voiced my concern to my sister, “He’s just not getting better, can’t keep anything down. The bloody diarrhea has changed to a kind of brown, bile-looking stuff.” She reminded me to make sure he was still having wet diapers. Her son had HUS (hemolytic uremic syndrome) three years ago, and she was understandably concerned. At the time he had become ill, he was also drinking raw milk supplied by the same dairy. We never made a connection as to what had possibly made him ill until now.

The Nordyke family (left to right): Glory, age 4, Selah, 6, Ella, 11, Jeremiah, Seamus, 1-1/2, Amy, and Sophie, 9.

I immediately realized I hadn’t really been watching for urine over the past couple of days, so I started paying much closer attention. By Sunday morning, Sept. 7, we knew. He wasn’t peeing. We took him to our local ER, thinking we were seeing signs of severe dehydration. They ran bloodwork, didn’t like what they saw, said the words, “hemolytic uremic syndrome,” and called Kosair Children’s Hospital to come get us. I thought, “What?! You’re not serious. He just needs fluids.”

When we got to the PICU, they immediately ran bloodwork again and found that his kidneys weren’t working and his red blood cells were basically disintegrating. He was dying. I can’t even think what would have happened if we’d waited any longer. The doctor put in a femoral catheter right there in our room, and Seamus was undergoing dialysis within hours of our arrival.

Hemodialysis — it is incredible! Miraculous! I’ll never forget the sight of my child’s blood being drawn from his body, cleaned by a machine, and returned to his veins. The next days were a flurry of dialysis, blood transfusions, various medications, and lots of lab work. The nephrologist explained to us that 60-70 percent of HUS cases recover fully. Those numbers weren’t comforting to me! He also explained that there is no medication for HUS, and we couldn’t know yet what damage it would do to his little body. The PICU doctors and nurses kept him alive and supported his systems with nothing short of medical miracles. We knew that this was completely out of our hands. We waited and trusted, knowing that our Healer had provided amazingly skilled, compassionate hands to care for us in a dark time.

I don’t remember how long we’d been at the hospital when our nephrologist told us he thought Seamus had passed the critical point of HUS, maybe day seven. They were pleased to see that some of the damage HUS can bring hadn’t materialized. His kidney numbers began to improve, and his kidneys began to produce a little urine. We moved to the renal floor. Shortly thereafter, he improved to the point that the doctor took him off dialysis for a day to see what his body could do. The next morning, the doctor walked into our room and said, “No dialysis again today. Your son has turned a corner. It’s a good day!” He never had to have dialysis again.

We were thrilled, amazed, and SO grateful that Seamus had come through the worst of this terrible disease and was recovering in such a short period of time. There’s no way to know what will happen with HUS. There’s so much randomness to it. It can attack so many different areas of the body and lead to horrific things like strokes and brain damage. Some children have a fairly classic case, some experience lots of extra complications (aside from their kidneys shutting down and their blood being consumed), and a few don’t make it. It’s an evil sickness.

Shortly after arriving at the hospital, I heard that other children were being admitted for HUS at the same time. Then, through Facebook posts of concerned friends, I learned that I knew one of the families (two of their children would end up being hospitalized). They were fellow club members who also drank unpasteurized milk. Then I remembered that another friend and fellow club member had told me her little one was in the ER with bloody diarrhea a few days prior. (I’d told her what my doctor had told me — probably viral?) Now I was worried about that kiddo. What was going on here? I didn’t want to admit that something I’d actively chosen for my family all this time could have taken my child’s life. It was painful, but I began to see the connection and had to humble myself and start to face the truth. I’d recommended raw milk to several friends. What if this had been one of their little ones? In our second week, I met the family of a fourth child with HUS and found out that they also had connections to our club and that their child had also consumed some of the milk. Then I knew. We’d been fortunate for the past many years. We either hadn’t consumed contaminated milk or our current children had been able to handle it. Now, not long after our son had begun drinking milk, it appeared he’d been sickened by it. My four-year-old daughter also, but she did not develop HUS.

The health department is investigating the source of our E. coli/HUS cluster. They’ve done testing at the farm. It’s my understanding that the test results have been negative for E. coli. However, our nephrologist explained to us in the first few days that positive E. coli test results can be hard to obtain. I’d asked him why Seamus’ cultures were coming back negative, and that was his response. In effect, I don’t believe that negative test results are the end of the story, as evidenced by the fact that our son’s stool cultures never showed E. coli, but he was most definitely infected by it at some point and then was thrown into HUS. The Shiga toxin that is released from the E. coli as it is dying is what causes the HUS. Three families — four children hospitalized with HUS — connected by raw milk from the same source. That’s enough evidence to give this mom major pause.

Will I ever drink raw milk again? I might. I’m an adult. I love it, and I understand the risks. Will I ever again give it to my young children who don’t make their own nutritional choices? No! Its immune-boosting properties suddenly dim when I relive what my child has faced. Incidentally, I’ll never use a raw egg yolk in their smoothie again either, or share a bite of my medium-rare steak. I have a new perspective on foodborne illnesses. I DO NOT believe anything wrong or negligent happened in the processing of our milk. I know our farm was impeccable — no bad practices. I’ve come to realize, though, that I was relying on everything happening perfectly twice a day, 365 days a year (including things outside the farmer’s control). And that caught up to me. Raw milk is great until it is contaminated.

If you’re considering adding raw milk to your family’s diet, do ALL your research. The literature I read from the groups that advocate giving raw milk to children downplayed the risks. I wish I would have done more research outside of what pro-raw-milk drinkers believe. Don’t ignore the risks. Make sure you have both eyes open before you make your decision, especially if you are going to give it to your children.

For more education about the very real risks of consuming raw milk, please look here. There are videos like this one that tells the story of little Kylee Young. She contracted E. coli from raw milk in 2012. Her family is still facing a daily struggle from her bout with HUS.

© Food Safety News
  • Ed Davis

    Amy, we thank you for sharing your story and your family is entitled to this position. Your case was interesting since the health department did not shut down the dairy immediately after finding a possible link to your child and I believe your 3 other children. The department also has not publicized the dairy. Considering the more typical health department response of closing down and publicizing a dairy, I initially was impressed. Upon further discussion with others, the situation may be less interesting and simply a protective action of the established dairy industry.

    Consequently assuming your claim of 3 sicknesses from this farm, it does beg questions about this farm. As your article makes great efforts not to reveal the dairy, please share the details of this impeccable farm without revealing the farm’s identity. How many cows are actively milked? Does it also sell its milk commercially? Are the cattle consistently pasture or hay fed? How is the milking parlor setup?

    On a related note, was your son given antibiotics after leaving the first doctor visit? Yes, any food can sicken a person. HOW that illness is treated can determine the outcome. Many of the HUS cases on the Real Raw Milk Facts site were treated early with antibiotics. For example, I read in the Chris Martin case that a doctor warned against giving antibiotics during Chris’ initial medical visits and the drugs were given anyway. Even though clinical experience suggests otherwise, doctors continue to use antibiotics to treat people with the initial diarrheal illnesses.

    http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM200006293422601
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21892124
    http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/779218-treatment

    I look forward to the farm details.
    Ed

    • A. Nordyke

      No antibiotics, Ed. Our doctors actively chose not to do so. In fact, it is very likely my son was actually in the grip of HUS before he ever got to the ER. Antibiotics had no part in that.
      I can’t claim to know what a typical HD response would be. I can only speculate that they chose not to shut down the dairy based solely on epidemiological evidence.
      I do not blame the farmer. He’s a good man doing the best he knew how to provide families with safe raw milk. (My article explains why I now believe that is never a guarantee.) I have heard that he is seeking even greater safety standards, and I’m glad of that. I have no reason to discuss his operation any further. This isn’t about him, hence the reason I’ve never felt it necessary to publicize the farm. I am sure the HD has all that information. You can contact them if you’d like to.
      I stated that four children who belong to or have connections to our club and drank raw milk contracted E.coli and then HUS and were hospitalized. I then said that this connection has changed my view of the safety of raw milk. No more. No less.

      • Diane Smith

        Amy, the reason Ed is asking for the farm details – such as what does this farmer feed his animals that produce the dairy and how do these animals obtain their food – matters greatly in the health of the animal and hence the health of the product as far as pathogen contamination is concerned. The more we all learn about all the aspects of the animal husbandry practices – the more we can learn how pathogens thrive in some animals and not in others. I recommend that THIS be your mission.
        Diane Smith

        • A. Nordyke

          I understand what he’s asking. It goes along with the idea that if cows are grass fed and kept humanely the milk will be safe. These things among other good things do lessen the risk. However, they don’t erase it.
          There are organizations now like RAWMI (http://rawmilkinstitute.net/about-rawmi/) that help farmers to produce the safest milk possible. My mission is to tell families that it’s still their responsibility to make that choice. Young children don’t make their own nutritional choices. Should we give them potentially dangerous foods? David Gumpert (below) does speak more on this particular farm. I do not wish to do so, other than to say that they have families’ best interest at heart and are reportedly pursuing the highest of safety standards.

      • Alicia

        But he isn’t doing his best if he continues to provide a known, unsafe product. Is a cook who cooks his food improperly doing his best? A doctor who gives unsafe medication doing his best?

        • A. Nordyke

          Restaurants that serve a steak ordered rare? A doctor who prescribes a medication that can help in one area but is also known to damage other areas of the body? Educating farmers about the highest possible safety standards and educating families about the risks to immature immune systems is KEY. Seems like somebody said that before…

    • davidgumpert
  • Joe Blow

    How many cases do we have to see to realize the “benefits” of consuming raw milk DO NOT outweigh the risks. Not to mention these “benefits” are not proven benefits.

    People…use some common sense.

    • thenookieforlife3

      +1

    • Vanessa

      It’s benefits have helped me regain my health. I was severely malnourished from taking too many antibiotics and not being able to breakdown my food properly and utilize its nutrients for many years. By the time I figured out I required probiotics to repopulate my gut I was 5’2″ and 82 lbs. I gained 13 pounds in 7 months on raw milk and reversed all of my multiple adult on-set food, environmental, and chemical allergies with no issues, and have rebuilt my reserves, strength and energy levels.

  • Erica

    Glad to hear she is not blaming the farm. As a farmer, you do everything you can but like she said, it’s hard to have perfection all day every day.

    • Alicia

      Not if you’re not pasteurizing your milk before selling it, you’re not doing everything. The blame lies both with the mother and the farmer.

      • A. Nordyke

        Alicia, I don’t believe you have any insight whatsoever into the world of raw milk dairies. You can close your eyes and pretend the raw milk movement is going away or huff and puff and try to blow that house down. That won’t save more little kiddos from being sickened when the next E.coli season rolls around. Education is what’s needed – not bashing.

        • dman

          Amy, I owed a dairy farm for 14 years milked 60 cows. It is literally impossible to never get flecks of manure in the milk. Maybe a spot was missed washing the cow. Maybe some ran down the udder after washing. Maybe the cow kicked off the milker and it fell near a pile of manure. etc.

          You are taking huge risks with your body by drinking raw milk. And especially giving it to small children.

          Since you did not do enough research to find these things out you suffered the results. Too bad far too many people will make the same mistakes you did.

          • A. Nordyke

            That’s exactly why I’m sharing our story and calling for the truth from raw milk advocates. Thanks for reading! (I am no longer giving my children raw milk, though. That’s what the whole article is about.)

      • MaryMcGonigleMartin

        Alicia, how can you be apart of the solution?

  • Amorette

    Pasteurization wasn’t invented for fun. It was invented to save lives. People need to remember that.

    • LaBella

      It was also invented in the days where the cows were hand milked, often with dirty hands, the udders were not cleaned, and the milk are transported miles to the city, sometimes in unwashed containers, and left on the doorstep.
      People need to remember that as well.
      That being said, just as you do not feed babies honey because of the risk of bacterial infections (even though honey itself is a natural anti bacterial), you do not give babies raw milk.
      Though.. I would hazard a guess that if you had your own cow and the milk went from Bessie to your fridge and you cleaned your equipment properly (as well as Bessie’s udders), you probably would not have any problems with raw milk..
      Buying it from a co-op, or cow share program, where you are relying on someone else, no.. would not chance it.

      • Random Name

        Please understand that poor hygiene and environmental contamination are not the only concerns when it comes to raw milk. Cattle can have tuberculosis, and those that do will pass it on in their milk. Pasteurization of milk became standard practice primarily because tuberculosis can pass to humans through raw cows milk. Please do not take chances with the health of your children, or anyone else with an underdeveloped or compromised immune system (i.e. pregnant women, the elderly, chemotherapy patients, etc).

  • lovingall

    so i am curious, were the raw eggs also tested? What in the world would someone add raw eggs to a childs “smoothie”. Were those eggs tested or is this yet another case of blaming what one wants w/o the evidence.

    • frufru

      The little boy was infected with E. coli which is not a factor in eggs so no need to test them.

      • A. Nordyke

        He hadn’t had raw egg yolks. I was giving that as an example. There are cookbooks/recipes in the natural-living world that do recommend adding raw egg yolks from “safe” sources (not the grocery store) to smoothies, etc. as a protein booster. I have done this in the past but had not done so for him at that point. Eggs had nothing to do with it. I was making the point that I’m not demonizing raw milk. I am much more careful now about raw foods that could contain dangerous pathogens. Raw milk is one of them, and it is the connection in this case.

        Shelley – I didn’t ask for anyone’s sympathy. This is an effort to help educate families. If you don’t need education, you may disregard. Our family doctor and the doctors at the hospital knew full well. We never hid anything. And, as I said, I have learned my lesson about looking at only one side of the story; so the scolding here is unnecessary. It is misleading to say that one could contaminate their child’s food by handling it after drinking raw milk. (According to the nephrologists at our children’s hospital, this could only potentially happen if I didn’t wash my hands following a bowel movement – to be blunt. Any moms out there use the bathroom and then walk straight back into the kitchen without washing up???) And you missed the point. I didn’t say I’d continue guzzling the stuff. I said I may ingest it again at some point in my life – not saying I never will again. I might not even have young children in my house then. I was speculating… The point was that I’ll no longer knowingly give my children a potentially dangerous food, making that choice for them.

        • Then educate people correctly. There are no “immune boosting” extra capabilities with raw milk. End of story.

          If you can’t stop repeating the myths, then you do more harm than good.

          As for drinking it again at some point…why? You just watched your child almost die from it, and you’re talking about drinking it again?

          I am relieved that you’re not giving your children potentially dangerous substances. You obviously care about your children, and I appreciate that.

          But please, stop spreading myths about raw milk.

          • A. Nordyke

            Shelley – please reference my post above. You won’t get anywhere with raw milk families by throwing the baby out with the bath water. They know they’ve experienced a difference. It doesn’t matter what you (or the FDA or CDC) say. They’re going off their real life experience. I can’t claim to have read every piece of research on the benefits/risks of raw milk. Have you? You speak like you have. You do not seem to have a good handle, however, on the difference between a developing immune system and a mature immune system. Both can ingest the same thing – one can handle it, one can’t. Again, my point: I am an adult. I make my own nutritional choices. Do you ever eat steak that’s not fully cooked? Maybe not. It’s delicious, let me tell you. Is it completely safe? No. Do many, many adults choose to eat it that way from time to time (even though I’m sure people have died from doing so and there are warnings on those restaurant menus)? Yes.
            Of course I care about my children. I’m glad you concede.

          • Young children and the elderly are particularly susceptible to foodborne illnesses. Yes, the elderly are just as much at risk from E.coli as the very young.

            But people of the prime of life can also get sick, and very sick. True, people in the prime of life are less likely to die from E.coli. But they can still get sick.

            http://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/e_coli/

            I’m not sure what you’re saying in your comment. You seem to equate a decreased chance of dying with it being OK to partake of the dangerous substance. I would think avoiding the dangerous substance and avoiding getting sick would be the smarter, more practical choice.

            You as an adult can make your own choices, but you also seem to think it impacts only on you, the adult. That is not true. When you get sick from a foodborne illness, unless you have a mild case, you are a burden on society. You’re a burden on your family, your employer, and the healthcare system. You’re a burden on the tax payer, who has to foot the bill for authorities to investigate the illness.

            I don’t ‘concede’ anything about your care for your children. I never once questioned your affection and interest in your children. I questioned your propagation of the myths surrounding raw milk’s “immune system benefits”.

          • MaryMcGonigleMartin

            Actually there are some studies that indicate there are some immune system benefits to consuming raw milk, but the authors of the studies warned that pathogens are a real concern and would not recommend consuming raw milk. In other words, the benefits do outweigh the risks.

          • I addressed this elsewhere. There are no studies, none, that can be taken to imply that immune systems are boosted by the consumption of raw milk.

            None.

            ” In other words, the benefits do outweigh the risks.”

            Sadly, I have to thank you for proving a point I’ve been attempting to make.

          • MaryMcGonigleMartin

            Shelly, the GABRIELA study isolates the whey protein as
            being sensitive to heat. http://mnhlrp.org/images/RawMilkStudy.pdf
            In the discussion it states, “The results of this large epidemiologic study adds to the increasing body of evidence identifying consumption of farm milk (earlyin life) to be associated with a reduced risk of childhood asthma and allergies independently of concomitant farm exposures. The results indicate that the effect is due to the consumption of unheated farm milk.” At the end of thediscussion it states, “However, on the basis of current knowledge, raw milk consumption cannot be recommended because it might contain pathogens. Once the mechanisms underlying the protective farm milk effect are better understood, ways of processing and preserving a safe and preventive milk can be developed.”

            IMHO, the polarized message from both sides of the raw milk
            issues creates confusion. One side views raw milk as being a healing food and very safe to drink versus and the other side states raw milk can kill you and should never be consumed. The pro raw side has the winning
            message. People believe their health and safety propaganda.

            I wonder if more people would listen if the anti-raw milk side acknowledged that some studies are suggesting there might be a positive coloration between drinking raw milk and reducing asthma and allergies, BUT the authors of the studies state THE RISK IS TOO GREAT! If a pathogen gets in the milk, it can cause serious harm. The authors of these studies do not suggest giving raw milk to children. Listing all the pathogens and illnesses that can be caused by raw milk is also important.

            A few years ago I presented at a NEHA conference. In my presentation I gave data on the numbers of children who suffer from chronic illnesses. The combination of children whosuffer from asthma, allergies, autism, AD/HD, bipolar disorder and obesity equals 43% of the population. When
            parents can’t find help with traditional medicine, many will turn to changing their child’s diet. Once research begins it will lead to raw milk consumption. There a many desperate parents out there looking for answers. Unfortunately, rawmilk can become one of them.

          • One cannot form a conclusion from a study of this nature, because raw milk testing is not done in isolation from other, environmental factors. In other words, is just an unfounded, untested hypothesis from which no real definitive answer arises.

            It is one study, by one group, focused primarily on allergies (not immunity).

            “A few years ago I presented at a NEHA conference. In my presentation I
            gave data on the numbers of children who suffer from chronic illnesses.
            The combination of children whosuffer from asthma, allergies, autism,
            AD/HD, bipolar disorder and obesity equals 43% of the population.”

            And we have to start objectively looking at the fact that people think their children have this or that disease when all that’s happening is their children are just being children. We have become, in effect, a nation of hypochondriacs.

            But yes, there are very real concerns, but you’ve managed to lump a bizarrely wide assortment of disorders into a discussion about raw milk, in a manner that makes little sense. Yes, a change in diet and lifestyle will certainly impact on obesity, but bipolar disorder? Yes, it’s been determined that certain eating habits of very young children can lead to an incidence of allergies later, but autism?

            We have to stop pandering to the ignorant. This isn’t a question of philosophy, such as whether one believes in a deity or not. This is scientific fact: there is no proven health benefit for drinking raw milk, but there are very well known hazards associated with doing so. There is no “half way” point in this understanding; no “compromise”.

            If you all want to placate superstitious idiots, feel free. I won’t.

          • Slappy

            ” …focused on allergies (no immunity).”

            Really can’t believe you’ve spent so much time in this comment section and acted so nasty, if you don’t understand that allergies are an immune response to a specific stimulus.

          • Oh, for the love of…

            Immunity in this context means something other than eliminating allergies. If you asked the original author of this writing (somewhere at the top of this Mount Everest of comment threads), you’ll find that her use of immunity is expressed in terms of feeling better from an overall sense, not having less allergic reaction.

            You’ll find when people mean allergy, they use “allergy” not immunity.

            And you certainly don’t use “immunity boosting” when you’re talking about allergic reactions, because that’s, in effect, saying you’re drinking raw milk in order to make your allergy worse.

            As for “acting nasty”, well, life is rough. Perhaps your delicate sensibility should forgo commentary in the future, if it causes you distress.

          • A. Nordyke

            Hahahaha! Shelley – I was imaging your facial expression as you responded here. 🙂 I think you and Mary actually have closer viewpoints than you may realize. She is actively trying to reach the parents who are being told that raw milk is perfectly safe and who don’t always look at things scientifically (not saying that’s wise – it just is what it is). She was using those chronic illnesses as an example of the overall health of children in this country. There are certainly many reasons for that state of health. When parents start reading websites to try to find answers, they’ll run into the raw milk websites and read about its purported (even if not proven) health benefits. And they WON’T hear about the risks from those information sources. That’s what we’re calling for – honesty from the advocates for raw milk.

          • A. Nordyke

            I wrote this article from a completely honest place, relating our story as transparently as I could. My focus was that parents MUST do their homework and look at both sides (because they’ve already read all the info on the realmilk website) before ever considering giving it to their children. I never intended a recommendation of raw milk to adults, and I hope readers will see that.
            Your paragraph about our choices affecting everyone around us is spot on, and I appreciate your giving us all something to think about there.

          • Steak cooked rare is not a health risk.

          • A. Nordyke

            So I’ve been told. Gonna have to check that out a little further… (why are there warnings on restaurant menus?) … but I’d be happy to find it true. 🙂

          • Ed Davis

            The warning labels arise from a fear of bacteria even though most bacteria are helpful. Our industrial food complex is a major driver of the policies, regulations, and research that continue to feed this fear. The Food Club and Food Freedom movements that often support raw dairy are concerned about the dangerous, industrial farming the FDA and USDA support (Where are the articles on this site about this issue?). For example, the sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics (~70% of all antibiotics produced in the US) to increase growth rates of animals and control disease in crowded factory farms. This practice on these farms is rendering our antibiotics ineffective, YET FDA and USDA is doing very little to reduce this use. The many in the Food Club and Food Freedom movements fear a future without any antibiotics in large part from industrial farming.

          • Ed Davis

            Please read the studies/articles that are linked below. There are scientifically-based health impacts related to raw milk. The Stanford study was refreshing since an United States research institution actually did research on raw milk. The study helped clarify the real experiences of “lactose intolerant” people who drink both raw and pasteurized milk with very different results (Read the third article.) As mentioned above, there were poor conditions that prompted the need for pasteurization in the past. The conditions do not exist today.

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21875744

            http://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2014/03/claim-that-raw-milk-reduces-lactose-intolerance-doesnt-pass-smell-test-study-finds.html

            http://thecompletepatient.com/article/2014/march/25/and-now-rest-story-stanford-raw-milk-lactose-intolerance-study

    • Raw eggs are sources of salmonella poisoning, typically not e.Coli.

  • I would like to be sympathetic, but I can’t be.

    You’re propagating the same myth that trapped you into giving your kids raw milk: raw milk boosts the immune system.

    It. Does. No. Such. Thing.

    It doesn’t make you quicker, smarter, healthier, able to leap tall buildings in a single jump. Your children’s doctors would have been appalled if they knew you were giving your kids something that is just as likely to kill them as give them nutrition.

    Next time, listen to the experts instead of what you read at same idiotic web site. A web site most likely created by a group who received their inspiration from a dentist in the 1940s.

    I’m happy your children are safe and your little one will be well again, but you need to learn to separate fact from fiction, before you endanger them again. How can you start? By _not_ drinking raw milk, yourself. Because if you get sick from e.Coli, you can sicken your kids by contaminating their food.

    • MaryMcGonigleMartin

      Shelley, your reply is a bit harsh. This is a mom that had to courage to speak out about her son’s raw milk ordeal with E.coli/HUS. It would be so much easier to remain silent. You may not believe raw milk has immune boosting properties, but many people have observed this benefit after giving their children raw milk. This is what makes people who have tried it keep buying more.
      Amy is speaking to the population that gives their children raw milk. She knows their thought processes and healing stories after adding raw milk to their family’s diet. She is telling this group of people that there is nothing positive about raw milk that can outweigh the risk of what she just went through with her son. Please have a bit more compassion.

      Also, your background is most likely in a field related to public health. Please keep in mind for those of us who do not have this educational background, it is easy to fall prey to all the false information out there about the safety of raw milk. We are an ignorant generation in regards to the history of milk borne illnesses. Pasteurized milk has been available all of our lives. We have lost touch with what it was like to know someone who has lost a child to contaminated milk. I’m 55 years old. My grandmothers and great-grandmothers lived this reality. In a time where our food is processed to death and it no longer has living nutrients, it is easy to find yourself buying raw milk in the journey to eating healthy food. For someone like Amy who wanted to buy milk from a local farmer, it would be nice to know that you could home pasteurize the milk make this a safe food to consume.

      • I’m a writer and former software engineer, not a food safety expert or anything related to public health. But I’m also capable of observing the people who propagate myths about the supposed “special” qualities of raw milk, and those who say any such claim is hogwash. I’ll stick with the entire medical community and the food safety experts and the labs and the CDC and the FDA and the entire scientific community.

        If I’m harsh it’s because the writer of this piece just watched her child go through a horrendous process, but then turns around and talks about raw milk’s “immunity boosting qualities”…the very false claim that lured her into giving her child a dangerous substance. You may feel it would be better to give her a pass, but I’m looking at the next lot of mothers and going, “No, I don’t think so.”

        Home pasteurization is an alternative, but what’s the point? There are a lot of good, healthy smaller dairies that already pasteurize. And that wasn’t why she went with raw milk. She believed the claims that somehow raw milk is “better”. Amy needs someone to tell her she’s been fed a lie in this regard, so she stops repeating the myths.

        • A. Nordyke

          I’m looking at the next lot of mothers, too, Shelley – and a lot more keenly than you are, trust me. I actually know lots of them. I understand how they think. You come at them insulting their intelligence, and they write you off. I accept the reality that raw milk isn’t going anywhere, and I say “PLEASE do your homework!”
          If you read my article again, you’ll see that I talked about my perception of raw milk’s benefits at the beginning. Pre-HUS. And my reference to its immune boosting properties is to say that they “dim when I relive what my child has faced.” I wasn’t promoting it.
          As to whether or not raw milk is really health-promoting, I’m sure thousands of families across the nation would beg to differ with you. Again, you and I can close our eyes and wish for a perfect world in which raw milk is always safe or always pasteurized. I choose to be realistic and try to reach as many families as possible with our story. We drank it for YEARS with no problem. There are other families out there doing the same thing. I want them to hear that that doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous.
          You don’t understand their mindset. You can keep getting mad at what you think is their ignorance or gullibility, but you won’t get anywhere. Encourage raw milk advocates to educate their audience about the real risks of contaminated raw milk, and maybe then you can make a difference.

          • Alicia

            It’s really hard not to be harsh when children are suffering because of willful ignorance. People like how special they feel when they find out something “amazing” that the “experts don’t know” and it didn’t take actually learning the intricacies of the subject. They just want to feel special, and years of evidence saying the opposite be damned. So yes, she sounds harsh. But the mom should’ve been smacked upside the head long before her son was almost killed.

          • A. Nordyke

            I am the mom, Alicia. 😛 I understand your incredulity, and I agree that this is a dangerous mindset – that the “experts” don’t know what they’re talking about – be they doctors, scientists, etc. And it’s easy to fall into this line of thinking not too long after one begins looking into “natural living.” I have found myself questioning many of the things I thought I knew; and I certainly wish I’d learned some of these lessons the easy way.
            However, to say that these parents are being willfully ignorant is unkind and unfounded. They’re misguided and even deceived. Often people start trying to improve their families health following a crisis. Other times parents look around at the sad state of American children’s health, and they run the other direction. It is based on a desire to do the very best they can for their children. So you are wrong. Do you have children or know any children? Do you take them or know someone who takes them to McDonald’s? I could say that’s being willfully ignorant of the studies showing how bad fast food is for their health.
            Families need to hear that raw milk is not essential to living a healthier life. It may or may not bring better health, but we live in an imperfect world; and the risks outweigh those purported benefits for children. It is a potentially dangerous raw food, and families are not being told this by the raw milk proponents. They’re being told that under certain circumstances, they can count on its safety. You need to read some of the information out there that touts the wonders of raw milk – see how convincing it is… before you accuse families so readily.

          • retiti

            I would like to start off with a thank you, for having the courage to share your story, and that I am very glad your child is fully recovered. I can’t even imagine what going through that must have been like.
            I need to address the willful ignorance thing though. It IS willful ignorance. Many, many parents who ‘do their research’ on raw milk only search ‘benefits of raw milk’, and not ‘harm of raw milk’, and if they do, if they see that the warnings from from the CDC, the FDA, pasteurization groups, etc, they write it off as ‘they just want to keep me sick’. You don’t get much more willfully ignorant than either refusing to research the risks, or writing them off fully.

          • A. Nordyke

            I’m not sure exactly how I can agree with two things at once, but you really have a point here.
            On one hand, I agree completely with Mary (and can speak from experience) that there is overwhelming information in favor of raw milk. It’s very convincing.
            On the other hand, I have to admit to having been in the place you just described. Sadly, it’s an easy trip from wanting to feed your family well to the distrustful state of mind you just described. I have a wise friend who began feeding her family raw milk but became more uncomfortable with it as she continued her research and stopped it not long after she began. Unfortunately, we don’t all keep reading like we absolutely ought to do.

            I’d like to reiterate again, parents can be proactive about their children’s nutrition without including raw, potentially dangerous milk. There is a middle road.

          • MaryMcGonigleMartin

            Alicia, it isn’t willful ignorance. Why is it so difficult to accept that maybe she had overwhelming information in the favor of raw milk that led her down a dangerous road? Especially after consuming it for almost a decade with out an illness. Please don’t be so harsh. It you want to get mad at someone, why not the organizations/people out there that are spreading the false information.
            http://www.realmilk.com/

            http://chriskresser.com/raw-milk-reality-is-raw-milk-dangerous
            http://www.realmilk.com/safety/those-pathogens-what-you-should-know/

            http://www.farmtoconsumer.org/

          • Joel R

            What exactly is the false information being spread? Did you even read the chrisskresser article? Do you disagree that raw milk is about 4x less dangerous than raw produce? Do you have specific stats to back you up?

          • MaryMcGonigleMartin

            Yes. I have specific stats. I’ve been following raw milk outbreaks involving the pathogen E.coli 0157:H7 since 2005 because this is the pathogen that causes the most serious illnesses. I’ve also looked at the CDC’s stats for this pathogen regarding raw leafy greens, which pre-packaged leafy greens are the most vulnerable for this pathogen. Take out the data on pre-packaged leafy greens, and then it isn’t so bad. If only people knew to by leafy greens by the bulk and wash it at home. Similar to buying raw milk and then home pasteurizing it. When looking at the data you have to know where the risk is–raw milk and pre-packaged leafy greens. There are solutions to both to make your food source less of a risk for E.coli 0157:H7.

          • Ed Davis

            I tire of the trust people have in the food and health experts. The history of industrial creations in the name of health and easier living (trans fats, saccharin, tobacco, food coloring, and aspirin) is not clean and accurate. The world of an engineer is quite concrete in that something tests to be X or Y and to do A or B. Material properties are fixed. The nutritional and natural world is different as they involve so many variables which interact with each other in non-fixed ways. I do not trust what the experts are doing with our food and suggesting for our health.

          • Mamamia

            Exactly and think of Sinclair Lewis’ TheJungle about chicago’s meat industry in the 1900’s. But what about pasteurized milk? It is horrible for you and may be causing Aspergers and other mental health problems and it’s got all this dead stuff in it . . . What’s a mother to do? You can’t make a kefir capuccino, I guess you try almond milk. I had my heart set on getting raw milk but now I’m not so sure. I would not give it to my teenager, who doesn’t drink milk any way because it’s so bad for you–the things in it that would have helped you digest it all having been pasteurized out. Thank you to the mother who told us her story.

          • A. Nordyke

            Have you considered pasteurizing your own raw milk? You’d need to be careful and definitely educate yourself on how to do it… But I’m guessing (haven’t ACTUALLY looked at any studies to verify it) you’d end up with a highly superior milk, as opposed to ultra-pasteurized…

          • Tiamat333

            Agreed. For decades they tell us that margarine is better for you than butter and now we’ve learned it’s exactly the opposite. Also, the MDA placing whole grains so high in the food pyramid when we evolved for literally millions of years with no prehistoric bakers! If we were meant to eat so many grains we’d have eyes on the side of our heads. When you mentioned variables I thought of our different biochemistries. I know a lady at work that can’t sleep for 2 days if she drinks even a small cup of coffee and gets sick from almost any medication. We are all performing a massive chemistry experiment on our bodies, the consequences of which will only be understood decades to hundreds of years in the future.

          • I don’t care about the mindset of the people foolish enough to drink raw milk. I equate them with those who withhold vaccines from their children because of a couple of people told them vaccines cause Autism. Or those who deny climate change and evolution.

            I have little patience for fools who completely disregard science, the medical profession, and even the evidence of their own eyes in the many, _many_ reports of illnesses caused by raw milk consumption.

            But when people make assertions that raw milk boosts the immune system, as if this assertion is based on fact, then I will push back. Leaving such unchallenged in a publication like Food Safety News would be unconscionable.

            Do my homework? Seriously?

            I hope that you can reach these families, but I doubt it. I have read so many of these stories and seen so many of the reactions. “Not my child”, the people say. “Not the farm I buy from.”

            And then they’re off and running about how this is a government conspiracy with Big Dairy.

            In fact, I would hazard a guess that you read the stories, and disregarded them up to the point of your own child getting sick.

            But good luck to you.

          • A. Nordyke

            Well, Shelley, I wish I could convince you to care. You could be a part of the solution, but not if you don’t care.
            You’re right. It’s unwise to ignore science and medical studies. I see that now. But I know I won’t get through to anyone by sounding just like the CDC, whom they ignore (we’ve already established that this is foolish).
            Much better to be honest about our experience… We had less sickness in our house after we started drinking raw milk. Whether that was a several-years-long coincidence or not, it happened. But any benefit we experienced was never worth what my son faced.
            If I were to tell the story dishonestly, if I were to say that we never saw any benefit from raw milk… number one, that’s not true; number two, this would discredit me immediately with the people I know who know this isn’t true, and I’ve lost all hope of reaching them.
            I didn’t disregard the stories, by the way. I didn’t read the information out there as thoroughly as I should have. Wish I could change that…
            That’s, again, why I’m calling for honesty from the raw milk movement since that’s who these families are listening to.
            …Or at least for Kentucky to require warning labels on all raw milk distributed in the state.

          • You started out great, but then you turned around and implied increased immunity for raw milk by giving your own anecdotal accounts—most likely contaminated by wishful thinking.

            I have a strong suspicion that if we had a objective outside view of your family during that time, you would either find that the amount of sickness you experienced really wasn’t all that different, or you also made other lifestyle changes that could have impacted on your overall health.

            Because there is no difference, none, in raw milk as compared to pasteurized that “boosts the immunity system”. And the fact that you won’t drop this self-perpetuating myth is why I reacted so strongly, and will continue to react strongly to your message.

            Ultimately in the end, all the raw milk drinkers will “hear” is your message on immunity. After all, your child getting sick was just a fluke, an aberration. But look at what this wonderful substance can do!

            The comments are too long, and we won’t agree. As I said, best of luck to you connecting with the raw milk drinking Moms. I hope you can influence them.

          • Ed Davis

            There have been scientific studies of the personal experiences of boosted health and immunities. These studies do not occur often in the US since the agencies responsible for your strongly-worded positions do not fund them.

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21875744

            http://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(12)00519-2/fulltext

            http://healthimpactnews.com/2012/fda-censors-academic-freedom-at-uc-davis-regarding-raw-milk-benefits/

            As with all food, you can get sick from raw milk as Amy has detailed. I believe, milking technology and holistic husbandry practices can reduce the risks to levels that allow consumers to benefit from raw milk consumption. Pushing raw milk into the black market will only allow the ignorant milking operations to potentially sicken consumers.

            Otherwise, I would recommend people NOT consume any pasteurized dairy.

          • No, there have been no studies about boosted health and immunities. None.

            The GABRIELA study was focused on asthma and allergies. And because of the limited environment of the subjects (all farm families) we have no way to differentiate the effects of raw milk, compared to the effects of living in a farm environment.

            The same holds true for the Amish kids–the environment is extremely different than the environment for most kids.

            The studies have very limited scope. Definitely can’t extrapolate anything decisive from either.

            There is no way to ensure raw milk is safe. None. Other than not drink it.

          • Ed Davis

            I thought asthma and allergies were health issues. In fact, the conditions are related to the immune system.

            http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/allergy_and_asthma/allergies_and_the_immune_system_85,P00039/

            Studies of more isolated populations actually are helpful as the potential variables are reduced. Of course, there are potential sampling issues.

            You have a strong faith in technology to adequately control all environmental variables. For example, you and people with similar views may also feel the modern agriculture system with its core of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and mono-cultural crops is safe. I feel these operations are increasing disease risks as the confinement is unnatural and requires sub-therapeutic antibiotics to control disease. This practice increases antibiotic resistance and eventually with create superbugs. Technology has limitations. Its best use is understanding how the natural check and balances systems work.

            You and I will not agree, but I have a right to choose foods that increase my health.

          • You lost the argument as soon as you conflate an interest in pasteurization with CAFOs. It’s no different than people conflating those who are concerned about GMOs with the anti-vaxxers, and raw milk drinkers.

            We are focused on one topic: raw milk and pasteurization. Nothing else.

            Pasteurization is an effective technique to help eliminate a major source of foodborne pathogens. As raw milk drinkers increase, so do the number of food illness outbreaks related solely to raw milk.

            As for it’s supposed miracle qualities, bunk. As I mentioned, there is nothing in the few studies you quote that separates the environment from the raw milk drinking, You cannot extrapolate benefits to raw milk, if you can’t isolate other environmental factors. This is called science.

          • Joel R

            When you say there have been no studies that raw cow milk boosted health and immunity… what do you think of this: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25441645

            And when you saw it is dangerous, do you have evidence that it is more dangerous than raw produce?

          • Oh good lord, we know for a fact it’s more dangerous than pasteurized milk, which is what it should be compared to.

            And that study was about breast feeding, or didn’t you bother to even look at it? Of course it’s better for babies to drink their mother’s milk rather than formula or other forms of milk…which has nothing to do with raw cow or goat milk.

          • Joel R

            I understand that if this happened to me, I too would probably stay away from raw milk in my area. However, from what I’ve seen, raw produce is about 4x more deadly than raw milk. Do you give your children raw produce?

          • i do owe you an apology. I have been overly harsh in my response. I appreciate that it was difficult for you to publicly talk about your experiences with raw milk.

          • A. Nordyke

            Thanks, Shelley. 🙂

          • Seabell

            Please remember the warning concerning cross contamination from your drinking raw milk and becoming sick then infecting your children. This is also a real risk for them.

      • Astoria Shackelford

        We do not learn about what food boosts immunity by “observing benefit.” There is a good reason we developed the scientific method. Without a statistically significant sample size, double blind participants, and control groups, we are unable to really learn anything about which foods benefit us and how.

        Parents “observing” their children lead to the widespread belief that ice cream caused polio. Thousands of parents across America noticed that their children developed symptoms right after eating the creamy concoction. Ice cream sales plummeted. Who knows better than a parent who is by their child’s side, caring for them 24/7? Well, turns out they were merely experiencing a correlation with the summer months.

        We’re actually terrible at distinguishing correlation from causation. We’re not even that great at distinguishing external factors we may not notice, nor at objectively observing and distinguishing results when we’re expecting a particular outcome.

        Proponents of raw milk rely on unsourced articles, anecdotes, and unreliable claims about “observed” benefits. Vague claims about “probiotics” make no sense when probiotics are available in safe alternatives such as dairy and non-dairy yogurt and kefir. Meanwhile, those who have conducted studies state that “While it’s true that the heating process of pasteurization does inactivate some enzymes in milk, the enzymes in raw animal milk are not thought to be important in human health. Some nutrients are somewhat reduced in raw milk, but the United States diet generally has plenty of other sources of these nutrients. For example, vitamin C is reduced by pasteurization, but raw milk is not a major source of vitamin C.” (CDC)

        I am VERY glad that Ms. Nordyke wrote this article, but I am afraid I have to join in Ms. Power’s call to remind people that raw milk has NEVER been proven to have immune benefits. I fear that even those who read this story will think that raw milk is a good choice for adults, or even convince themselves that their dairy is somehow “safe.” Touting unproven immune benefits does nothing but increase the risk that more people will fall victim to unsafe milk, and not all will survive.

        • A. Nordyke

          This is a good post, and I appreciate it. I hope that all who read this article will see that I was telling a story. The good part at the beginning turned out not to be so good when my son became deathly ill.
          And I’m certainly not recommending raw milk to anyone. I said that I knew I’d be taking a risk if I chose to consume it again. Same as people know they’re taking a risk if they choose to skydive…
          That’s what I’d take away if I were the reader.

        • Ed Davis

          How are we to determine if these observations have scientific basis with a public sector in the US that is not willing to fund the studies? The studies are funded in Europe using significant population samples of isolated peoples. A great way to establish any links between food and health via a study. Amy is not shedding light on the dairy, but it is an important variable. With proper use of technology and holistic husbandry that works with the natural checks and balances, I think is possible to produce raw milk as safe as any other food. Assuming a person fosters within their bodies a rich petri dish of bugs and does not sterilize it with processed foods, lysol sprays, and soaps; the chance a dangerous disease overtakes a person is similar to the many other risks to living and less than many acceptable, legal habits of our society.

  • Kelly

    Dear Amy, Thank you so much for this honest article. I have been giving raw milk to my family for a little while. I think I’m going to back off of that now. I was captured by your obvious love for your family and presenting the facts of your case without blaming anyone. I appreciate you!

    • A. Nordyke

      Kelly – I would never dare to tell you what to do for you family. I am glad to share our story, though, to encourage you and other families to read, read, read BOTH sides of the story. Thank you for listening, and I wish you the best of luck! 🙂

    • A. Nordyke

      One more thing, Kelly… A mom who felt comfortable doing so could home pasteurize and probably have a much better product than commercial milk. Again, she’d need to read up on that. 🙂

    • Alicia

      Why does it take someone’s child almost dying recently to change your mind when there was years and years of science about the dangers of raw milk, and centuries of deaths caused by raw milk? Why was pasteurization created? Why would you think that you were more educated than the scientists who work at dairies and go through hours of training on safety? I’m really, truly curious about how this works.

      • A. Nordyke

        Again, Alicia, see my post above. It’s a slippery slope into that mindset.
        Families think they’re doing the best they can. They certainly feel better about the choices they’re making than those who are filling their grocery carts with processed junk food: pop tarts, froot loops, spaghetti-o’s, jello cups, frozen pizzas, mini muffins … regular kid fare in America.
        Families in the raw milk world aren’t told the whole story. And you (as well as others who sound just like you) aren’t helping. They’ll shut you out real fast, as soon as you say the words “why would you think that you were more educated”…

        • Astoria Shackelford

          I think there’s a vast chasm between the world of processed and fast foods and those who drive to organic farms. Making it sound like it is one or the other can dissuade families who don’t have the means or opportunity to spend every weekend at the farmer’s market.

          I live in NYC, don’t own a car, and do all my shopping at the small local grocery store I can walk to. I just spend my time in the produce aisle, adding in a few whole-food, vegetable-based frozen foods and soups for busy days. I believe those who shop in suburban supermarkets are told to “shop the perimeter” and avoid the inside aisles where the packaged foods are.

          We all want to keep our families healthy, but I think in our efforts to avoid fast food culture we make it seem harder than it really is. Just feeding them a balanced diet with a variety of whole foods, with lots of vegetables and whole grains (organic if you can afford it) and your family will be healthy!

          We don’t need magic foods like acai, raw milk, gogi berries, kombucha, chia seeds, or whatever the latest trend is. Just common sense.

          • A. Nordyke

            I didn’t get much into our nutritional habits these days because that wasn’t the focus of the article, but I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with this at this point in my life. 🙂 Hindsight.

      • MaryMcGonigleMartin

        See the post above about the organizations and people that make people believe that raw milk is a good choice to give to children. Here is the recipe for raw milk baby formula from the Weston A Price Foundation. Along with raw milk, it includes raw eggs and liver. http://www.realmilk.com/how-to/recipes-for-whole-foods-baby-formula/ Rumor has it a baby died in Minnesota after consuming raw milk. Why would parents want to speak out about this when there is such insensitive backlash? Alicia, be a part of the solution, not the continued abuse for parents that made a mistake and are trying to rectify it by educating others. Until you have walked in another mom’s shoes that made the raw milk mistake, you will never know the internal suffering and guilt that is endured. Amy has paid her price. Help her spread the message that the risks from drinking raw milk will never about weigh any benefits.

        • Ed Davis

          Mary, I have read your story. It is used heavily as PR against raw milk consumption. I feel for your child, however your posting a rumor undermines the credibility of your story and boosts the innocence of Mark McAfee. I live in Minnesota and follow the raw milk issue. There has not been any report of an infant death via raw milk and our Health Department would be the FIRST to use a death to discourage raw milk consumption. STOP POSTING RUMORS!

      • Jo Flemings

        Actually because a number of other cultures- same first world, 21st century folk, still also consume raw milk- and it is a healthful food most of the time. I drink raw milk and I feed it to my kids and I will continue to do so in spite of this outbreak of illness recounted in this story. It’s a risk I am willing to take because I think the benefits outweigh the risk in my case and that is MY prerogative to determine- no one else’s. It is also my responsibility and I take that squarely on my own shoulders as well.

        Nutritional safety is not a universal given because of pasteurization, nor is it a given because of non-pasteurization. It is likely increased, based on some factors, in some areas, while it is also definitely decreased in others. There are risks either way. If you think the milk you buy at the grocery store is not going to harm you because it is pasteurized you are greatly mistaken, and not a little foolish. You might not get listeria or shigella from it, but do any of us really know what goes on in the processing of that product or how that is affecting us short and long term? Well, actually no, because it is assumed to be bacteria-free, or bacteria-controlled and that is the important part, right?

        I appreciate Amy’s article and testimony. It is very helpful in adding to the discussion for decision-making for nutrition and health for families. But if I choose the contrary path because I determine this is best for me, having considered the risks and benefits, it is my choice and my business and my responsibility- and not really for someone else to pass judgment on.

        • A. Nordyke

          It is your choice and your business, that’s true because of the freedoms we’re blessed to have in America. Five years ago – I, too, might have said that the (perceived) benefits outweighed the (possibly real but seemingly so far off and unlikely) risks for my family. I could not say that now.

  • davidgumpert

    This mom’s heart-felt confessional is both engaging and provocative. Provocative because, despite the understandable emotional rawness, this mom poses one of the fundamental questions surrounding the raw milk debate: Don’t the improvements in immune function conferred by raw milk make it incumbent on us to learn more, and teach more to dairy farmers, about what can be done to improve raw milk safety? In other words, does it need to be an either/or decision–that we ban raw milk to eliminate even the slightest risk of serious illness, or accept it for its potentially society-wide immune boosting benefits? I think not.

    It should be noted that while Amy Nordyke is convinced raw milk was the culprit in her son’s (and other) illnesses in Kentucky, there are some mysterious elements to the investigation that is supposedly ongoing by the Kentucky Dept of Public Health. For one thing, there is evidence that if raw milk was responsible, the contamination may well have happened after the milk left the dairy. But that is a separate discussion, and shouldn’t divert from the important questions she has raised.

    • A. Nordyke

      I agree that it shouldn’t be either/or, David… and I agree with Mary that home pasteurization may be a good solution for those who chose to do so. What I reject is the notion (locally but elsewhere also) that raw milk is always safe if processed properly… I also recognize that it is unknown exactly where the milk was contaminated. Again, my point: raw milk has great potential for contamination and should be respected as a raw, potentially pathogenic food. Thanks for listening.

      • davidgumpert

        Amy, I have always had the view that there is risk in drinking raw milk. One of the reasons I joined the RAWMI Executive Advisory Council was to help reduce the risk by introducing strict safety standards to raw milk dairies.

        That being said, there is risk with any food, unfortunately. I’ve read news reports about parents expressing amazement that their children could become deathly ill from something so ordinary as a spinach salad or a hamburger ora peanut butter sandwich. When it happens with raw milk, the news reports suddenly become much more politically and morally judgmental than with any of those other foods –as in, how could you let your child do that, what kind of a parent are you, and so forth. There are lots of reasons for that, having to do with the power and influence of the conventional dairy and medical industries.

        • A. Nordyke

          Yeah, David, I get that. It wasn’t any food, though. It was raw milk that connected all our kiddos. I know that children acquire serious infections from other foods. In our case, it was something I actively sought out and chose for my family. Somehow that feels different.
          And, yes, it’s sad how quickly people turn ugly on someone who admits to have been mistaken.

    • And you prove the point I’m attempting to make to Amy: propagating the myth about raw milk’s “immune system” boosting capability will only encourage more mothers into putting their children at risk.

      You have no scientific proof of this supposed capability, just something you believe, and if you believe it, why it must be true. What a load of bilge water.

      I wouldn’t care, but your arrogant assertions help convince the gullible that anyone who says anything with such conviction must know more than the entire medical/health/scientific community.

      As for the contamination of the milk, it became contaminated after being bottled at the dairy? Seriously? Exactly how would that happen, since cow feces is the e.coli agent in raw milk. Accusing the Moms of squishing cow poo in their hands, first, before pouring the golden elixir for the little ones?

      • davidgumpert

        For starters, there have been two large-scale studies out of Europe, involving more than 20,000 children indicating a “protective effect” from raw milk against asthma and allergies (immune system disorders).

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21875744

        http://grist.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/raw_milk_allergy.pdf

        A similar smaller study of Amish children provided similar outcomes.

        http://www.globalresearch.ca/new-study-raw-milk-promotes-health-in-amish-children/30832

        Then there is this analysis out of the University of California, Davis, by a Nature editor giving serious credence to these studies (“The Evidence Around Raw Milk”):

        http://milkgenomics.org/article/the-evidence-around-raw-milk/

        I am sure you are aware of much of this, since you comment often here, but for some reason, you insist on saying “there is no scientific proof” and the idea raw milk helping improve immune-system function is “just something you (Amy) believe.” Assertions to the contrary are “arrogant.” No, I’d say the arrogance is coming from you, Shelley Powers.

        • The studies were not conclusive, because there’s no way to isolate the lifestyle directly from the consumption of raw milk.

          Look at the objective of the one study you linked:

          “To investigate whether consumption of farm-produced products is associated with a lower prevalence of asthma and allergy when compared with shop-purchased products.”

          They understood it was more of a lifestyle study than anything from which we can derive a scientific conclusion.

          If you’re going to cite the Amish study, you should link the full text

          http://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749%2812%2900519-2/fulltext

          The methodology is based on a self-selecting questionnaire from a very limited population. It doesn’t differentiate raw milk consumption from a rural lifestyle. In particular, with the Amish, there are _so_ many differences between Amish people and the average industrial citizen that one doesn’t know where to start to categorize the differences.

          Is it the type of material used for the clothing? Is it the fact that the Amish don’t buy any processed food. Perhaps the issue is the fact that the Amish grow or raise most of their own food, using less chemical agents. They don’t even drive cars. They certainly don’t spend most of their time sitting on their duffs watching TV.

          The only want to have a truly effective study would be to get a random sample of the population of young people, and then do blind tests: half getting pasteurized milk, the other half raw.

          But _no_ reputable scientist, researcher, or doctor would conduct this study? Why? Because they have a moral and legal obligation not to expose test subjects to substances that could be a risk to the subject’s health, and raw milk is considered a risky substance.

          That’s why the “studies” you link are really nothing more than surveys, with results that are mildly interesting, but can’t be used to form a solid conclusion about anything.

          You have no facts, none, to support your assertions. What you have is an incredibly gullible audience.

  • Coco Loco Noel

    I was given raw milk one time by my grandfather, which ended up causing a 20 year case of un-diagnosed brucellosis. I grew up on a farm. I think people who drink unpasturized milk are insane.

    • Ed Davis

      Modern technology can address such situations. Also, a more local/regional food system would prevent spread of disease. Our global food system is a ticking bomb for disease spread as you cannot have enough inspectors to safeguard the food. Even worse, the tracking delay will result in more illnesses.

  • dasmortes

    you made an irrational decision to give your child raw milk and then you made an equally irrational decision to stop giving your child raw milk. The scientific evidence supports neither one. You just think you know better than everyone. You really need to stop experimenting with your child or any human being for that matter, including yourself.

    • A. Nordyke

      I don’t know about scientific evidence. I know there’s a little child still dealing with HUS as I type this, most likely brought on by a raw milk E.coli contamination. Parents don’t scour every bit of scientific literature they can possibly get their hands on. They make decisions they feel are in the best interest of their child based on the information available to them. This won’t really help your ugly point of view, but perhaps it will help other readers…

    • FoodLover

      And you made a completely irrational decision to judge someone thinking that you know better than everyone. Shame. She made a choice based on bad information thinking she was doing the right thing, and now she is shifting her perspective based on new information. That’s called being RATIONAL and responsible– the exact opposite of what you’re claiming.

      • A. Nordyke

        Thanks! 🙂 Well said.

  • Pasteurizer

    Thanks for sharing your experience and your heartfelt honesty.
    Let’s go ahead and do away with the idea of “boosting” the immune system. Instead of thinking of the immune system as an empty tank needing refueling, imagine a carefully balanced teeter-totter with good health being in the middle. If the seesaw tips too far to either side, you get sick. On one side are immuno deficiency syndromes, and on the other, conditions like lupus and Crohn’s disease wherein the immune system works “too well” and begins to attack healthy cells rather than only unhealthy ones. Boosting your immune system will only cause you harm. Indeed the immune system needs no such boosting. A healthy individual living in the devloped world and eating a reasonably balanced diet does not require any help in maintaining the immune system. There are, however, outside factors that can overwhelm any immune system, and e. coli is certainly one of those. Louis Pasteur must be rolling in his grave.

    • A. Nordyke

      Now THIS is helpful. 🙂 Your screen name is interesting. Do you home pasteurize?
      I may be using the wrong terminology. Raw milk drinking families believe that raw milk helps them maintain that healthy balance and that commercial milk does not.

      • LaBella

        I have drunk (drank?) raw milk.. I will do so again. I look forward to doing so again. But not because of any supposed immune boosting, but simply because it tastes so much better than store milk.
        But when I do so, it’s going to be from my own cow, that I milked myself.

        • A. Nordyke

          I’d avoid drinking it in August and September (seems to be E.coli season) for sure. And please never give it to a child.

          • guest

            Interesting. Kylee Young got sick in the spring. For a long time, I thought spring was E. coli season – people seem to think that cows that haven’t shed E. coli will suddenly start shedding depending on what they’ve been fed. But the longer I’ve been paying attention, the less I think that time of year has anything to do with these outbreaks.

        • jeff

          I agree. I grew up on raw milk. I would prefer to drink it again, however, there are conditions: my cow, I washed her and the pail, I milked her – by hand. I know what she was fed and where she spends her time. This is what grandma taught me and I learned a long time ago that violating certain things she taught, especially food related, may well come with a price.

        • A. Nordyke

          I bet it’d still taste just as good if you heated just enough to kill any pathogens…

  • Tom M Culhane

    People, please stop believing in these government stunts to discredit the ancient super food, raw milk. The government has an ongoing dirty trick campaign running against raw milk. Please learn about the long sordid history of tactics the government has used against environmental groups, Native Americans, peace groups, etc., to disrupt and discredit them. Dirty Tricks is standard operating procedure. “Why I’ll Never Give Raw Milk to My Children Again” is not a genuine event.
    If you want to learn about raw milk, please learn some history. The healthiest, longest lived people consumed raw dairy. For example, the Hunza, Armenians, Sikhs, Alpine Peoples, Georgians… Raw milk does not cause HUS, it prevents and heals serious illness. But when raw milk farmers post on their website testimonies from mothers of their children being healed of life threatening asthma, they are fined 8000 dollars. Asthma kills 4000 people a year in this country btw. University professors have posted how they risk being fired or having their grant money cut off if they publish pro raw milk findings. I have followed the raw milk scene closely for the last two years, and the more you look into the government’s attempt to slander raw milk, the uglier it gets.
    Why are they so determined to make what is probably the healthiest safest food there is illegal? The answer is, precisely because of its health benefits. You see, the biggest business today is SICKNESS. The pharmaceutical cartel takes in over half a TRILLION DOLLARS a year in revenue. There is a fortune to be made in endlessly “treating” a sickly, mineral deficient population. If raw milk were to become more popular, this would wreak havoc with the Sickness Industry.
    If you want to know about the benefits of raw milk, go out in the REAL WORLD and talk to any of the 10 million drinkers, as I have. All I find are health stories. Please learn the history of government propaganda and dirty tricks. Anyone who thinks this is farfetched is clueless about history. Don’t trust in me, but don’t trust in these kooky stories about raw milk causing kidneys to fail and heads to explode and whatever. If you go out and make an effort, the real picture will come into focus, and there is nothing to debate.

    • A. Nordyke

      Tom, I’d like to hear your definition of “genuine” and “kooky.” 🙂 Do you really think we’re make-believe people?

      • Tom M Culhane

        Here is a link to a youtube video of the “testimony” of the 15 year old Kuwaiti girl that was used by the government to launch the first Gulf War, murdering and crippling for life untold people. It turned out the girl was acting. Business as usual for the secret government. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmfVs3WaE9Y
        I find it interesting that part of the testimony in David Gumpert’s raw milk blog, from the mother involved in the Foundation Farm raw milk incident, is almost word for word identical with this Kuwait girl’s: “My life was changed forever”.
        Of course the government would have no qualms about intentionally making children sick, or using already sick children in their stunts. After all, these are the folks that napalmed Viet Nam, burning alive how many children and others? I see David Gumpert has posted links here for recent articles he has written on this Kentucky incident. Read my comments in those articles to get educated on the real history of how the government deals with grassroots movements they don’t like. And again, for anyone that really wants to understand raw milk, please go out in the real world and talk to the real people who drink it and listen to their testimonies.

        • A. Nordyke

          You didn’t answer my question, Tom. Do you really think we don’t exist or made up this story? Real mom here. Real story. The problem is, you and others in the raw milk movement are okay with collateral damage. I’m not saying the government is always innocent. I’m just saying: Are we any better if we’re okay with a few little ones becoming gravely ill or dying as long as the masses are reportedly finding better health? It’s not acceptable to anyone looking objectively.

          • Tom M Culhane

            Define “genuine”: Answer: The Kuwaiti girl’s story I just posted is an example of something not genuine.
            Define “kooky”: Answer: Raw milk has been consumed for thousands of years by the healthiest peoples. HUS is a very new disease. Therefore, HUS must be caused by raw milk consumption.
            That line of reasoning is an example of something “kooky”.
            “Do you really think we don’t exist or made up this story?” Answer: The government makes up stories all the time. I’ve posted information in David Gumpert’s raw milk blog to help people understand this. People who say the government doesn’t use agents or faked events are either lying or clueless. As I said earlier, the government is certainly capable of making people sick deliberately, as well.
            “Are we any better if we’re okay with a few little ones becoming gravely ill or dying…?” Answer: The little ones are actually much safer eating whole unprocessed food like raw dairy. Their risk of illness, serious and non serious, is greatly reduced. In other words you are safer drinking raw milk than not drinking it. For a more thorough look at all this, see my posts in David’s blog.
            Readers: Do not be fooled by this article we are commenting on. It’s what’s called a “hatchet job”. And the barrage of hypercritical comments about raw milk that follow it are mostly compliments of govt agents.
            Even people who believe in government numbers will find that cantaloupe, for example, is far more dangerous than raw milk. Do we see mother’s stories being hyped up called, “Why I Will Never Give Cantaloupe to My Children Again”? Is cantaloupe outlawed? Answer: No, because although it is a fine food, it is not the superfood raw milk is.

          • A. Nordyke

            You said our event isn’t genuine. How do you know that?
            No one is saying HUS is always a result of drinking raw milk. HUS, when it happens, is the backlash of a severe E.coli infection. That E.coli can come from any contaminated source, contaminated by animal feces. Animals like cows – milk cows. The point is raw milk has a good potential to be contaminated and make people sick, and families are being misled by the raw milk movement about that dark side of the story.
            My son and the other three hospitalized children in this outbreak weren’t safer drinking raw milk. Neither was Kylee Young in 2012. http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/02/a-mom-and-a-dairymans-plea-dont-feed-children-raw-milk/#.VEBxgPldX4s
            Here’s the definition of a hatchet job: a fierce attack on someone or their work, especially in print. Please read my article again and tell me whom I fiercely attacked.
            There is no such website as “www.realcantaloupe.com” – no campaigns proclaiming that cantaloupe can bring you better health. It’s not recommended by the local food movement as the perfect food for your child. Big difference.
            My story isn’t hyped up. I wrote it myself – titled it myself. You’re wrong.

          • Tom M Culhane

            “You said our event isn’t genuine. How do you know that?” From the information I have, this Kentucky event is claiming a rate of HUS of 4 cases for about 1000 raw milk drinkers, which is a rate of 400 cases per 100,000. No matter what time frame you use, that rate is astronomical. (the establishment encyclopedia Wikipedia only claims 2.1 cases of HUS per 100,000 annually, and disease attributed to raw milk, for the ten million drinkers, is miniscule, using the government”s own numbers.) Now maybe a radioactive asteroid entered the atmosphere over Kentucky, causing this, but given the fact that pro raw milk activists are part of that 1000 people, and the fact that you would write this sensationalist story here, and the history of government smear jobs, it’s much more likely it’s a govt stunt than an asteroid.
            The Kylee Young story you cite is the one where the mother uses almost word for word that same line as that fake Kuwaiti girl testimony I cited: “My life was changed forever”. Tell the CIA to get some new textbooks. I expect better from my tax dollars.
            Severe e coli infection is not caused by raw milk. It’s caused by having a polluted body, which sets the stage for janitorial microbes like e coli to proliferate. Little people’s bodies are being polluted in all kinds of ways today, farmers spray poison herbicides and pesticides on the food, when it rains it goes into the plants’ roots and into the food… toxic vaccinations are given to children and others at every turn, antibiotics are fed to animals, etc. HUS is created by antibiotics and other weird drugs being put into someone’s body when they are already sick. See the video I recently posted in David’s blog, on polio, where the doctor talks about being horrified finding hospitals giving her patients vaccinations before she even sees them, and then the patient has kidney failure…
            Raw milk prevents disease. You horrible people that want to take away our right to eat whole, unprocessed food, food that has stood the test of time for thousands of years, you will get what’s coming to you sooner or later. 46 deaths every DAY from prescription pain killers and you want to take away our right to drink milk. Good luck when the bill comes due for you all.

          • A. Nordyke

            So you did answer my question without directly answering it. You do believe that our story is fake… that the government convinced me to make up a “sensational” story to target raw milk, specifically because it involves John Moody’s food club, indirectly. (By the way, relating the progression of HUS isn’t sensational. HUS is life threatening. Have your kidneys ever shut down?)
            Well, I was there in the hospital with all four children. I know their parents. You’re speculating. I’m relating first hand knowledge. And it’s ludicrous to make such claims when there are so many people who can validate the facts – doctors, nurses, family and friends. (Do you really believe they’re all in on it?) I’ll let the readers here decide for themselves.
            I don’t know exactly how many people drink raw milk from our farmer. You say it’s 1,000. Okay, I guess that’s a rate of 400 per 100,000.
            It is what it is. I’m sorry you don’t like that percentage.
            And I’m sorry to tell you this… but I, too, have used a similar phrase. “I am forever changed.” You say that our stories must be doctored or made up all together… because we used a phrase common to someone who’s been through a life altering event. It’s called the English language.
            There’s a problem with your theory about polluted bodies being the problem here. These families that are affected are natural, local food club members. So they eat better than the average population. Chances are they don’t immunize. And these cows are the healthiest kind – very little if any antibiotics, right? Those children should have had a better chance of not getting severe E.coli turned HUS. How do you explain that? You can’t have it both ways.

            I repeat, my son has never had antibiotics. I don’t know if the other children did, but I doubt it since it was the same doctors/hospitals treating them all.
            I’m not trying to take away your right to drink raw milk. Go for it. Just don’t preach to trusting families that it’s absolutely safe for their children to consume. It’s not okay if four children get deathly sick out of one thousand raw milk drinkers.

          • Tom M Culhane

            “Those children should have had a better chance of not getting severe E.coli turned HUS. How do you explain that?” I’ve already explained it: it’s because it’s not a genuine event, it’s a government stunt.

            I’ve posted detailed info in David’s blog showing the history of government dirty tricks to discredit movements they don’t like. This is not a theory. There’s a mountain load of evidence, and anyone that gets involved in the real world, with good causes like environmentalism, we see the appearance of covert government agents, sooner or later. Since it’s standard operating procedure for the secret government to use agents and dirty tricks against these movements, and since we already know very clearly they don’t want us having access to whole unprocessed milk, well then it would be extremely odd if there weren’t faked raw milk outbreaks. So where are they? Common sense tells us they are the weird, hyped up stories the media cartel promotes endlessly, such as Mary Martin McGonigle, Foundation Farm, The Family Cow, your story, etc. If these aren’t the government stunts, then where are they, because anyone involved in environmentalism will tell you they have to be there??

            “it was the same doctors/hospitals treating them all.” So the claims that children got HUS all come from one place, not from four different places. Now if people want to understand the details of how the government did this, look at the families involved. Are they long term buyers of the milk, that have lived there for years? Are they newer buyers? Are the children said to have HUS old enough to talk, or so young that they can’t contradict the story?
            For example if the sick families have been buying milk from that farmer for years and everyone knows them, and the children are old enough to talk about their HUS experience in the hospital, then more likely we are dealing with a more complex government stunt where they deliberately made innocent people sick. If the sick families are newer, then it could have been a very simple stunt for the government, just have some agents start buying milk from a farmer, wait a while, and then pull off this “disease outbreak stunt”, use govt people in a hospital to claim kids got HUS (this is easy for the government to do if you understand their power), and maybe they make a few kids a little sick intentionally to add credence to the story.
            Bottom line, it’s a government stunt. You might be working for them. You might be just an innocent victim. There is no reason for anyone to take stories like this seriously. No one that can be considered independent ever even investigates these kooky stories. And if Food Safety News is truthfully reporting raw milk stories, then look up their archives and see how many stories they have written about all the children who have been saved from asthma with raw milk(4000 deaths a year in this country from asthma btw) and saved from medical nightmares related to these breathing problems. And that’s just one of the diseases it cures. I have a feeling you won’t find zippo.
            If people think it’s farfetched that the government would go to a lot of trouble to discredit raw milk, you don’t understand the numbers involved. The Sickness Industry takes in TRILLIONS of dollars, literally. If people start returning to whole, unprocessed foods on a large scale, this will be a disaster for the Sickness Industry. The last thing they want you to know is that you are not sick because you have a deficiency of pharmaceutical drugs, or a deficiency of surgeries or amputations or chemotherapy…, you are sick because you have a deficiency of the minerals and vitamins needed by your body, and you’re sick because of all the poisons going into you.

          • MaryMcGonigleMartin

            Since 2005 a total of 32 children have developed HUS after drinking contaminated raw milk. Tom, obviously it is very difficult for you to deal with reality, so you have to create a government conspiracy to make it work with your belief system. Very sad.

          • Tom M Culhane

            You’ve convinced me Mary: the fake weapons of mass destruction story the government used to start the second Gulf War didn’t really happen, the fake babies thrown out of incubators story they used to start Gulf War I didn’t really happen, the fake Gulf of Tonkin story they used to start the Viet Nam war didn’t really happen…, and your fake website that can only find disease stories but no healing stories for raw milk must be legitimate. I’ll sleep much better now.

          • A. Nordyke

            Tom, I can’t say I’ve ever looked into any of those situations you just listed. (Five kids keep me a little too busy for that.)
            I can assure you once again that I do not work for the government, and they didn’t make these kiddos sick.
            Contamination happens. You need to accept that. If you’re willing to take the risk of sickness for possible healing, go ahead; but don’t make that decision for littles who can’t decide for themselves. (Man, I sound like a broken record!)

          • A. Nordyke

            Tom – this is definitely an imperfect world. I’ll give you that, but…
            I don’t work for the government, and the government didn’t make my son sick. You’re making yourself miserable reading WAY too much into all the occurrences around you every day.
            By the way, for everyone else reading out there – we have an amazing nephrology team that is actively seeking to wean Seamus off his medications as soon as possible, as soon as his body is ready. Their goal is for him to live a healthy life without the aid of pharmaceuticals. That’s not the picture Tom would like to paint here.

  • homearora

    Must boil raw milk before consuming.

  • Ws

    I feel like I’ve read this before…..

    • A. Nordyke

      you may have read it on FB, I posted it there and invited friends to share it…

  • steve

    Not too minimize anyones experience or lay blame… as horrible as this story is but I am just curious….this seems an odd constellation of events apparently magnified by both lab error and Mom missing the fact that her child hasnt peed in almost a week. If those two mistakes were taken out of the loop what would that have changed in childs recovery time and overall experience? It was alluded that the milk may have been tainted after it left the farm….how does that happen? Also, does e. Coli tainted milk smell or taste odd or bad? Just curious. Glad everything worked out for the best!

  • Shelley

    Thank you for sharing your story. Well-written and heartfelt. Thanks!

  • jeff

    I’m a small dairy farmer and my whole family drinks raw milk. I personally been drinking raw milk for over 34 years and the only time I got sick was from a cow that had just calved and had antibiotics in her and I drank it by mistake. I’m allergic to penicillin.

    • A. Nordyke

      I’m glad to hear you’ve never gotten sick from contaminated milk. I do believe there’s a difference between handling the entire process yourself and drinking your own milk (you’re obviously very careful with it) and drinking milk that’s coming from another location. My four older children drank it for years and never got sick, either. We’re still changed forever from this experience.

  • TsuDhoNimh

    “We did see a boost in our immune systems.”

    How was this determined?

    • A. Nordyke

      We went from regular sick visits to our doctor to almost none.

      • Alicia

        How does that prove a boosted immune system? Were tests conducted on the number of antibodies? T-cells? Titters performed? Not going to the doctor as much isn’t proof of anything other than not being exposed to illnesses (until you exposed them). Do you understand how the immune system works other than the basic things most of us lay people know (immune systems fight illness)?

        • MaryMcGonigleMartin

          Alicia, you have a bone to pick. Who is it with? Don’t beat up on a mom that is trying to right a wrong. Amy has 5 children. She started feeding her children raw milk. As a result, her children didn’t get sick as often. She rarely had to take them to the doctor. It doesn’t take an expert on the immune system to figure out something positive was happening. No doubt there are positives to consuming raw milk, but the real question is does the benefit outweigh the risk? Amy says no and I agree with her.

      • A. Nordyke

        Gonna go ahead and reply to your comment below that’s awaiting moderation, Alicia… You’re asking ridiculous questions. Does any family run those tests? Also, saying that children who are in school five days a week must not have been exposed to illnesses is just silly. I’d guess that the average mom doesn’t know the exact scientific workings of the immune system. Nor do I. I do know when my kid stops going to the doctor all the time.

      • Astoria Shackelford

        Correlation does not imply causation.

        For example, children starting school get sick often because they are exposed to new illnesses. After each one, they develop antibodies. It is possible that your children reached a stage where they had developed antibodies to the illnesses that were going around their schools. It is possible they developed better hygiene habits, or a teacher changed the way the other students behaved by encouraging them to sneeze into their sleeves or wash their hands more often. Maybe they stopped sharing juice boxes.

        There are countless possible reasons your kids got sick less, all of which are more plausible than raw milk. According to Harvard Medical School, “the concept of boosting immunity actually makes little sense scientifically.” There has never been a proven way to “boost” your immunity through supplements or foods. Your current beliefs about the benefits of raw milk seem to be as mistaken as your beliefs in its safety.

        http://www.health.harvard.edu/flu-resource-center/how-to-boost-your-immune-system.htm

        Now that you are becoming such a great spokesperson for avoiding feeding raw milk to children, I hope you will take the time to understand the immune system a bit better and adjust the claims you are making about its benefits for adults.

        • A. Nordyke

          Thank you for the exhortation, Astoria. I will take the time to look more into that. Please understand, though, that I am not making claims about its benefits for anyone. I said I love it (as in the taste of it), which I do; and that I know I’d be taking a risk to consume it again. (For that reason, I may never do so. I said “might.” More than likely, it would be in a home-pasteurization capacity.) And since children are the most in danger, I am pleading with people to not give it to their little people.
          The raw milk movement has already completely convinced countless families of its purported benefits, especially for children. I am writing to those families. If I completely discredit what they believe they see and know in their home (even if it’s just correlation), my words will be useless. They’ll listen to me about as well as I listened to the FDA and CDC. I choose to be honest about our experience, even if I was mistaken all that time and it was just correlation.

          • Astoria Shackelford

            I understand where you are coming from a lot better now, and it makes a lot of sense. I think you are right, your current strategy is probably more likely to work.

            Maybe with time they can be convinced of the benefits of home pasteurization, which I believe I read does make it a lot safer. I certainly think these small dairies are more humane than the large ones, and, if the milk from them is treated (at the dairy or at home) it is much better for the planet and the cows than factory farmed milk.

  • Gordon S Watson

    it would be most interesting if we had some actuarial tables, comparing the risk of harm from consuming raw milk which had been produced for consumption without being cooked ( Pasteur-ized) versus all the proven instances of poisoning from other food groups.
    There are a hundred such horror-stories, per DAY, in the US of A, but – curiously ? – they never make the front pages of the papers, nor the websites of lawyers who make their livings from consequent lawsuits. Could it be that the Dairy Cartel and processors have some reason to be very afraid of consumers finding out the fact that “homo milk” causes diabetes, and/or that Crohn’s disease in humans is caused by cattle who have Jones disease?

    • A. Nordyke

      I’m not sure how to respond to you, Gordon. I don’t hear those hundreds of stories all day every day. Where do you hear them since they don’t make the news? Again, there are no movements claiming any of those foods to be the most perfect foods available to mankind. What’s in it for you to keep telling families that raw milk is perfectly safe? Why do you care?

  • A. Nordyke

    My son has never had any antibiotics, even with all the medications he had to be on at the hospital. I am glad to hear that your son is doing so much better, and I’m so sorry your family had to face that! The human body is so incredible and so fragile all at the same time, isn’t it?

  • A. Nordyke

    Yes, they did testing. I believe David Gumpert’s articles (above) talk more about that. They are now striving for even safer standards than they already employed. Again, though, even the highest of standards don’t guarantee safety, especially for wee ones. I’m so sorry your family had to face that. Having a sickness in your home that could have killed your child (especially if you’re used to treating little stuff like the common cold yourself) if you hadn’t gotten medical help is LIFE CHANGING. I wish you the best!

    • dman

      The problem is that you trusted a farmer who did not do everything possible to eliminate possible problems. That is sad. Ans even more sad is you wanted to continue drinking the milk.

      He only tested the milk 4 times a year? Really? That is so wrong.

      • A. Nordyke

        He could have been doing absolutely everything possible, already had a RAWMI certification, and tested constantly. Contamination can still happen. Reference oldcowvet’s post just above this one.
        And for insight into why on earth any adult would consume raw milk, scroll up and find the post above that talks about why on earth people jump off bridges with only a bungee cord to save them. Adults have that prerogative, and it’s not really anyone else’s business… until they decide to give it to small people who can’t make that decision on their own.

        • dman

          He only bottles twice a week. He should have been testing every time he bottled.

          • Drone Hunter

            I purchase raw milk from a dairy farm in Texas and the farmer tests the milk every time bottling is done, which is every two days.

            People need to take into account what the FDA makes a raw milk farmer do in order to sell the product, this is why the milk is so much more expensive.

            If people think pasteurization is the answer, pasteurized milk still become contaminated: http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-recall/maleny-dairies-recalls-pasteurized-milk-due-to-e-coli/#.VEFrhXyhmV8

            Here is a list of nine reasons why you should not drink pasteurized milk: http://www.wakingtimes.com/2014/07/03/cancer-fuel-9-reasons-avoid-pasteurized-milk/

            Is raw milk 100% safe? The dairy farmer can take every precaution and a contaminant can still enter the milk, so the obvious answer is no.

            Like everything, research is important. The government hates raw milk, and uses data from 100 years ago when dairies and distilleries were neighbors and the milk became contaminated from the distillery, not the dairy farm itself.

            When you go to Wal-Mart or another major grocery store to buy milk, the milk is pasteurized and likely comes from a factory farm where thousands of cows live.

            These cows are fed corn, which is not the natural diet of the cow, and allows E.Coli to flourish: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3L7lcMTELg

            Nice how they cut a hole in the stomach to examine the contents to test for E.Coli

          • A. Nordyke

            I’m very glad to hear you say that raw milk isn’t 100% safe.
            And while I’m sure that all these things, that I’ve believed and cited before myself, are bad and do require that that commercial milk be cooked to death… this time it wasn’t pasteurized milk. There weren’t thousands of cows. It wasn’t a factory farm, and the cows ate grass.

          • A. Nordyke

            Yes, but even if he did, contamination could still have happened.

          • dman

            But if he tested every bottling he would know which bottling was contaminated and not sell it.

          • A. Nordyke

            That would be true, I suppose. I have heard that he is pursuing a RAWMI certification, which means he’ll be adhering to very high safety standards. Hopefully this will help prevent another outbreak for those families who will choose to continue drinking it.
            Again, high standards do lessen the risk but don’t eliminate it.

    • oldcowvet

      Gotta give you credit for standing up to the tin foil hat crowd. What I find scary are those who thinkk it is impossible to get sick from raw milk as though it is somehow magical. E coli is found in healthy cows, not really a pathogen for them. All it takes is a cow to shed that day, a even perfect milking routine may allow a contamination event, and you have a dangerous product. Keep up the good fight.

      • A. Nordyke

        My whole point! Thank you. 🙂

  • A. Nordyke

    Good answer, Sarah.
    Steve – it wasn’t a whole week. He was having a lot of diarrhea. If you’ve ever had a child with diarrhea, you know it’s hard to determine if there’s pee in there, too. And he was still peeing as of Tuesday, because that was obviously one of our doctor’s first questions. So – maybe from Wednesday to Friday? I know that’s awful. But you never think, “maybe his kidneys are shutting down…” You just think, “Lord, please let him be a little better tomorrow!”
    As for the lab error, as much as I wish that hadn’t happened… a positive E.coli result (which we may or may not have gotten) wouldn’t have meant he didn’t end up in the hospital with HUS. It just would have meant we might have gotten there sooner, and his systems could have been supported sooner. His renal numbers might not have been quite so bad when we got there.

  • Alicia

    I can’t believe it takes almost losing a child, of putting a child through such suffering, for presumably educated people in a first world country to realize that pasteurization is a law for a reason. That germs are real and deadly and not just something “to build immune systems”. That warnings about E. Coli and Salmonella exist for a reason. That medicines and vaccines and scientific theories overall are tested over and over and over, which is why they’re true. That millions died in the past from things like raw milk, and millions still die in parts of the world where parents would *love* the level of education and care we have. If something sounds too good to be true, and centuries of history have seen many killed by something, then it’s a good idea to be very cautious of it. Man, the level of willful ignorance makes me so angry!

    • A. Nordyke

      You keep using that phrase, Alicia… I agree with you, though, that it’s a good idea to be very cautious of raw milk, especially for children. Now go out and convince raw milk enthusiasts to tell their people that, because they aren’t going to listen to your angry rant.

      • common sense

        good i hope they dont listen… population control needs to happen somehow… why not start with all you raw milk drinking yuppies who think they know everything about everything…

        • A. Nordyke

          can’t even respond to that disturbing sentiment

  • A. Nordyke

    I invite everyone here to come stand in the middle with me. It’s not an easy place to occupy, since you’ll get pummelled from both sides; but it’s the right place to stand. Raw milk is good stuff. Contaminated raw milk is bad stuff.
    One case of HUS from E.coli is too many. Raw milk for children isn’t the answer. Ultra-pasteurized, homogenized milk isn’t either.
    What if farmers offered the option of gently pasteurizing their nutritious raw milk? Or what if families knew exactly how to eliminate dangerous bacteria in their milk by heating it themselves? Will they lose some enzymes? I’m sure they will. Will they lose potential pathogens? Yes.
    Not a perfect world, folks. Neither extreme is best.

    • Slappy

      And pasteurized milk is useless stuff. It’s not worth drinking.

  • Ashley

    Actually, the USDA recommends cooking whole muscle steaks and roasts to medium rare (145 degrees) but hamburgers need to be cooked longer to medium doneness (160 degrees) to ensure that any possible contaminants have been killed off by heat. Kids can definitely eat medium rare steak! 🙂

    • A. Nordyke

      Ha! Well, I’ve learned my lesson about taking anybody’s word for anything. So I’ll definitely be looking that up. 🙂 But I’d be happy to find out it’s true.

  • DeeNaMet

    I think this THIS is what resonates with me in this post: “Will I ever drink raw milk again? I might. I’m an adult. I love it, and I understand the risks.” Perhaps, rather than banning raw milk altogether, the movement should educate parents on the risks, while the law should require that raw milk not be given to minors. Adults should be fined or face criminal charges if they give raw milk to minors, and raw milk providers should require that a waiver be signed by anyone purchasing their milk stating that they understand the risks of unpasteurized milk and that raw milk should not be served to minors under any circumstance. I have no problem with adults taking risks with their own lives for whatever reasons but children don’t have the same ability to weigh the risks and make an educated decision.

    You like your hamburger cooked medium-rare? You want to eat fugu? Maybe you love a raw egg served over hot rice? Ever wanted to try live octopus? Go for it. You want to jump off a bridge tied to an elastic rope? Fabulous. Knock yourself out. I don’t even need to hear about any supposed health benefits – some people like to live on the culinary edge and I’m not about to stop them… just leave the kids out of it.

    Parents aren’t perfect and while I probably wouldn’t have given my kid raw milk (truth be told, I don’t drink a lot of milk – can’t really get past the idea of drinking what amounts to cow’s breast milk beyond infancy. I’m sure raw milk is nutritionally packed to provide a baby cow all the nutrition it needs until it can eat other food, but if a cow doesn’t drink it into adulthood, I’m not sure why we do. Do any other mammals even drink mother’s milk into adulthood? End tangent.)
    I can’t hate on this mother for making an awful mistake – watching her kid teeter on the edge of life and death is enough punishment for a genuinely loving parent. I only hope that she continues to be a vocal advocate for awareness, information, and perhaps the force behind a movement that changes how raw milk is made available to consenting, educated adults.

    • A. Nordyke

      Very well said. 🙂

    • I like the idea that an adult should have the freedom to engage in risky behaviors if they so choose. However, I would like to point out that if you are a parent risking your own health is also a risk to your child’s well being. Adults can get HUS, and severe and permanent consequences. Who will take care of your children when you are in kidney failure?

      • DeeNaMet

        That’s for the adult parent to consider and why I think it’s probably important that dairy farmers make sure their clientele are aware of the risks of raw milk. Is a parent’s culinary adventure worth the risk? Is getting into a car, knowing that car accidents kill about 3,000 people per day worth the risk to a parent? Plenty of parents have dangerous jobs or risky hobbies – and plenty of parents live lifestyles that are so unhealthy that they may end up in the hospital for kidney failure for many other reasons. IMHO, it’s up to the adults to weigh the pros and cons of every situation and decide what risk is acceptable for his or her family.

        • A. Nordyke

          It’s MAJORLY important that dairy farmers make their families aware of the potential risks of consuming raw milk. Good post. 🙂

    • Ed Davis

      Ok, does the same apply to football and soccer? Both sports are linked to brain damage and little substantial actions can be done to reduce the risks totally. Yet, parents choose to let their kids be involved since there are links between sports and health.

      http://journals.lww.com/co-pediatrics/Abstract/2009/06000/Sports_related_concussions_in_pediatrics.5.aspx

      Our world is majority urban. Consequently, people are limited to store food. I feel uncomfortable with the situation that a public regulatory body that is strongly influenced by industrial food production will produce healthy, live food. One need only consider their history of trans fats, food dyes, tobacco, saccharin, and high fructose corn syrup. When the sunk costs are so high, it is hard for the food giants not to be concerned about rocking the boat and risk major profits.

      • DeeNaMet

        If you’re asking me personally? I’m not a sporty person and definitely not a competitive sport person – so I’m all for making sports linked to brain damage an 18+ thing like MMA Fighting. I do live in a very urban area in California and I need only drive an hour or two to visit the farms where I can get my animal and dairy products from regularly inspected, small farms. The same isn’t true throughout the USA unfortunately. That said, IMHO, dairy – especially cow’s milk – is an optional food and I think most people can skip it when it comes to store food and still find plenty of other healthy, live foods to get nutrients from for their children.

  • Olde Pharte

    My late uncle Elmo died in 1927 from drinking raw cow’s milk. Do some research!

  • DCDawg913

    Amy, thanks for your effort to educate and I am very sorry your kids had to go through what they did. As you know, all children go through childhood fighting off colds, sinus infections, etc. because their immune systems are still developing — it is this natural process that helps naturally “boost” (actually fully develop) their immune system to support them as they enter adulthood. I am curious though, for how long had the kids that got sick been consuming raw milk, yet despite the supposed “immune boosting” effects, they still got sick. My main point is: there are a variety of probiotics available on the market now– in pills/powders and included into pasteurized, cultured dairy products that can SAFELY help to “support the immune system” without the risk of also consuming pathogens (E. coli, Campylobacter, etc.). We need to educate raw milk advocates and consumers that there are in fact safer alternatives to consuming risky raw milk to help support/develop the immune system. Raw milk is not the only option. Simply being exposed to dirt and the outdoors helps do this and not keeping kids indoors and sanitizing their hands everytime they touch something. Kids NEED to be exposed to the world (and microbes) around them.

    • DCDawg913

      Just to clarify my comment above, kids need to be exposed to microbes– the good ones and not so bad ones– and to the extent we/parents can avoid the truly bad ones (e.g. STEC) by not serving riskier foods to young kids, we should. What is “riskier”? Foods where we have seen REPEATED incidences of illness linked to them and where measures cannot be taken to really reduce the risk — raw milk is a perfect case. People refer to peanut butter and other “processed” foods as examples of risky foods that once were not considered as such; however, these often do not meet the above criteria making them not nearly as risky. Most processed foods undergo much higher degrees of scrutiny and quality control than anything that is served raw. Ingredients are tested for pathogens or indicators of lack of sanitation. Food safety audits and inspections are conducted all throughout the year by regulators and customers. These companies employ people trained in food safety and proper food production to ensure their products are as safe a possible–their brands, financial well-being and ability to stay out of prison are all at risk if they don’t! (See Peanut Corporation of America as an example) This is how we protect ourselves and our children. So-called “processed” food = SAFETY AND QUALITY, the VAST majority of the time. Cooking food to kill pathogens and preserving food with safe preservatives (salt/sodium compounds, etc.) is what has allowed humans to extend our life spans and live more productive lives and build lasting civilizations. Why would we want to reverse this and move toward food that spoils easily and is more likely to be contaminated with pathogens? That only leads us down a path of more dollars spent, more spoiled food thrown out with the garbage and more people getting sick. I don’t know about everyone else, but that is not the path I choose…

      • A. Nordyke

        Very insightful. I can’t say I completely agree with the idea of going with all processed/packaged food and shunning the food that spoils more easily… fruits, veggies, etc. I’m not sure that’s exactly what you meant, though…?

  • A. Nordyke

    Much has been made of the fact that I said, first of all, that we felt we’d experienced better health in the years after beginning to drink raw milk and, second, that I may some day in the unknown future possibly consume it again.
    Reader, please know that I am not recommending raw milk to anyone. It is a risky substance. There is no potential health benefit that warrants risking grave illness.
    As for my family’s experience, I can’t say if it was coincidence or not. I can say it doesn’t matter, knowing what I know now. Raw milk can be contaminated, even at a clean dairy, and is much too dangerous for me to ever again allow my children to drink it, which is the main focus of my article. Also, after much thought and discussion with commenters here, I don’t think I can say that I would ever drink it again in its raw state, either.
    It is true that knowingly taking risks with one’s health, while it may be one’s right, is a selfish thing to do. A couple people here have pointed that out, and they’re exactly right. I wouldn’t skydive with five children depending on me. Honestly, I’d probably not even get on the back of a motorcycle!
    These are things I hadn’t completely processed as I wrote our story. I appreciate the insight given here and the impact it’s made on me.
    Some day I may be brave enough to pasteurize local milk. For now, it’s not crossing our doorstep.

  • Brunski

    I have been drinking raw milk and so have my kids for several years … no issues yet. But I see that it could happen, because this is mostly a cottage industry and each farmer has their own version of proper hygiene. With that said… it seems there many more incidents of illness related to cook food than there are to consuming raw food. It is also interest that only one of her children became ill, yet I assume all of them drank the same raw milk. Perhaps that child had a weaker immune system, making them more susceptible to contamination. Either way It is frightening!

  • Tiamat333

    Raw milk is safe…for calves. All others…drink at your own risk.

  • Mary Richter

    Notice – under the headline and author’s name it states Opinion. There is no proof raw milk is the cause here. What is the name of the farm? Did the FDA shut them down? Did the FDA do tests at the farm to find out if their raw milk was the cause? In 2011 The FDA blamed cases of H-Pylori on a raw milk producer in SC. Tucker Adkins dairy to be exact. They released a statement that several people had contracted it and had consumed raw milk and the farm was to blame before they ran tests to be sure. Turns out all tests came back negative. The farm was not to blame. I had been drinking milk from Tucker Adkins for several years when this happened. When the FDA found out they did not retract their statement with the fanfare that they posted it. It almost ruined them and they are still fighting it. I had to find another source in South Carolina which I have used for several years now. Never a problem. They are now stopping their production because of government rules. I am now looking for another source.