The Food and Drug Administration uses import alerts to enforce U.S. food safety regulations for food from foreign countries. The agency updates and modifies the alerts as needed.

Recent modifications to FDA’s import alerts, as posted by the agency, are listed below. Click on the links to view the full alerts.

Import Alert

Description

URL

IA-12-03

Detention Without Physical Examination of Imported Soft Cheese and Soft Ripened Cheese from France

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov
/cms_ia/importalert_7.html

IA-16-105

Detention Without Physical Examination of Seafood and Seafood Products from Specific Manufacturers/Shippers Due to Decomposition and/or Histamines

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov
/cms_ia/importalert_19.html

IA-16-119

Detention Without Physical Examination Of Fish And Fishery Products For Importer And Foreign Processor (Manuf) Combinations

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov
/cms_ia/importalert_23.html

IA-16-120

Detention Without Physical Examination of Fish/Fishery Products from Foreign Processors (Mfrs.) Not in Compliance with Seafood HACCP

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov
/cms_ia/importalert_25.html

IA-16-39

Detention Without Physical Examination of Processed Seafood and Analogue Seafood (Surimi) Products for Listeria Monocytogenes

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov
/cms_ia/importalert_44.html

IA-16-81

Detention Without Physical Examination of Seafood Products Due to the Presence of Salmonella

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov
/cms_ia/importalert_49.html

IA-20-03

Detention Without Physical Examination of Dried Fruits Due To Lead

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov
/cms_ia/importalert_55.html

IA-22-01

Detention Without Physical Examination of Cantaloupes from Mexico

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov
/cms_ia/importalert_67.html

IA-28-13

Detention Without Physical Examination of ***Spices and Spice Products*** Due to Lead Contamination

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov
/cms_ia/importalert_1143.html

IA-33-10

Detention Without Physical Examination of Candy Due to Lead

http://cms.fda.gov
/vts/imports_publish/private/importalert_102.html

IA-36-01

Adulteration of Honey – Firms on Red List

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov
/cms_ia/importalert_108.html

IA-45-02

Detention Without Physical Examination and Guidance of Foods Containing Illegal and/or Undeclared Colors

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov
/cms_ia/importalert_118.html

IA-45-07

Detention Without Physical Examination of Food Products Containing Illegal Undeclared Sweeteners

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov
/cms_ia/importalert_120.html

IA-66-40

Detention Without Physical Examination of Drugs From Firms Which Have Not Met Drug GMPs

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov
/cms_ia/importalert_189.html

IA-66-41

Detention Without Physical Examination of Unapproved New Drugs Promoted In The U.S.

http://www.accessdata.fda.gov
/cms_ia/importalert_190.html

IA-99-05

Detention Without Physical Examination of Raw Agricultural Products for Pesticides

http://www.accessdata.fda.gov
/cms_ia/importalert_258.html

IA-99-08

Detention Without Physical Examination Of Processed Human and Animal Foods for Pesticides

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov
/cms_ia/importalert_259.html

IA-99-19

Detention Without Physical Examination Of Food Products Due To The Presence Of Salmonella

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov
/cms_ia/importalert_263.html

IA-99-21

Detention Without Physical Examination and Surveillance Of Food Products Containing Sulfites

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov
/cms_ia/importalert_265.html

IA-99-35

DWPE OF PRODUCE THAT APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN PREPARED, PACKED OR HELD UNDER INSANITARY CONDITIONS WHEREBY IT MAY HAVE BEEN RENDERED INJURIOUS TO HEALTH

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov
/cms_ia/importalert_1128.html

IA-99-37

DETENTION WITHOUT PHYSICAL EXAMINATION OF LOW-ACID CANNED FOODS AND ACIDIFIED FOODS WITHOUT FILED SCHEDULED PROCESSES

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov
/cms_ia/importalert_1131.html

IA-99-38

DETENTION WITHOUT PHYSICAL EXAMINATION OF LOW-ACID CANNED FOODS OR ACIDIFIED FOODS DUE TO INADEQUATE PROCESS CONTROL

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov
/cms_ia/importalert_1132.html

IA-99-39

DETENTION WITHOUT PHYSICAL EXAMINATION OF IMPORTED FOOD PRODUCTS THAT APPEAR TO BE MISBRANDED

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov
/cms_ia/importalert_1144.html

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Health officials say four infants in Texas have developed botulism poisoning after consuming honey. The children, all less than a year old, had all been given pacifiers containing honey before they became sick.

The first baby became ill in mid-August, with the most recent having symptom onset at the end of October. Texas officials say all four babies had to be admitted to hospitals for life-saving treatment. Botulism poisoning attacks the nervous system and often paralyzes muscles used to breath, causing death quickly if the patient does not receive immediate medical attention.

“Honey can contain spores of Clostridium botulinum, an organism that produces a potent neurotoxin known to cause severe illness in infants,” according to a notice from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

“Infant botulism occurs when C. botulinum spores in food, dust, or other materials are inhaled or ingested and germinate in the gut of infants who have not yet developed mature intestinal flora. For this reason, parents are advised not to feed honey — raw or otherwise — to children younger than 12 months old.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and have long advised that children less than 12 months old should not consume honey.

The four infants reported sick yesterday are not related and live in West Texas, North Texas and South Texas. Each had been given a honey-containing pacifier purchased in Mexico. However, the warning from Texas health officials, and another posted the same day by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, both say such pacifiers are available in the United States and from online retailers.

Most such pacifiers aren’t designed for the honey to be consumed, public health officials reported, but some have a small hole so a child could eat the honey, or the pacifier could accidentally rupture or leak. Parents are warned to avoid pacifiers containing any food substance, because they could also pose a risk of botulism.

In addition to warning the public, Texas health officials also posted a warning for health care providers. It urges doctors and others treating sick infants to consider botulism poisoning if the children have symptoms associated with the illness. Some of the symptoms can mimic other illnesses.

Infants with botulism poisoning can have symptoms that often start with constipation and may include poor feeding and/or weak sucking, weakness, drooping eyelids, loss of head control and difficulty breathing. Severity can range from mild illness with gradual onset to paralysis, respiratory failure, and death.

“Prompt recognition of a suspect case, administration of antitoxin, and initiation of supportive care can halt progression of the disease,” according to the Texas health department alert for medical practitioners.

The department will coordinate confirmatory testing at its laboratory. To obtain the antitoxin (Baby BIG) for treatment, physicians can contact the Texas Emerging and Acute Infectious Disease Branch or the California Infant Botulism Treatment and Prevention Program.

In its warning, the FDA recommended that parents and caregivers do not give pacifiers filled with or dipped in honey to their infants or young children. Anyone who has purchased a pacifier filled with or dipped in honey should stop using it and discard it immediately. The FDA recommends online retailers discontinue sales of honey filled pacifiers.

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Bamboo Juice LLC in Palmetto, GA was inspected by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Feb. 28 to March 2, 2018, and found serious violations of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

The inspection of the facility revealed serious violations of FDA’s juice Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulation, “These violations render your juice products to be adulterated, in that they may have been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have become contaminated with filth, or where they may have been rendered injurious to health.”

Additionally, the FDA reviewed product labels collected during their inspection and from the firm’s website; “Based on our review, we have concluded that certain products are in violation of sections 403 and 505(a) of the Act,and regulations implementing the food labeling requirements of the Act,” FDA’s Atlantic district director said in a warning letter to the juice processor.

According to the warning letter, FDA investigators found that in addition to selling raw (i.e., unpasteurized) juice directly to consumers, the firm also sells or distributes raw (i.e., unpasteurized) juice to other business entities. Accordingly, “your facility does not meet the definition of a ‘retail establishment’ and is not exempt from the juice HACCP regulation,” the warning letter said. A retail establishment is defined as “an operation that provides juice directly to the consumers and does not include an establishment that sells or distributes juice to other business entities as well as directly to consumers.”

FDA officials observed the following violations:

  • The firm’s HACCP plan entitled “Bamboo LLC HACCP and 5-Log Reduction Plan” that covers all their low acid and acidic juices, including “DANDELION”, “GINGERED GREENS”, “CARROT COCONUT”, “CARROT GINGER”, “CILANTRO CELERY”, “CINNAMON YAM”, “DARK GREENS”, “PINEAPPLE JALAPENO”, “SEASONAL GREENS” and “APPLE” does not include control measures that will consistently produce a 5 log reduction of the pertinent microorganism.

Additionally, the FDA noted that they reviewed the firm’s response received via email on March 16, 2018, and their revised “Bamboo LLC HACCP and 5-Log Reduction Plan”, dated March 14, 2018, and found them inadequate; “Your revised plans continue to not include control measures that will achieve a 5 log reduction in the pertinent organisms.”

  • The firm’s “Bamboo LLC HACCP and 5-Log Reduction Plan” that covers all the juices the firm processes fail to identify the food hazard of Clostridium botulinum growth and toxin formation that is reasonably likely in their low acid juice products.

The firm noted that it reviewed the firm’s response received via email on March 16, 2018, and their revised “Bamboo LLC HACCP and 5-Log Reduction Plan”, dated March 14, 2018, and found them inadequate; “Your revised HACCP plan continues to not list the food safety hazards that are reasonably likely to occur, including Clostridium botulinum.”

  • The FDA reviewed the firm’s product labeling, including product labels and their website in August 2018, where the firm takes orders for the juice and beverage products Vanilla Mint, Turmeric & Beets, Sweet Fennel, Cilantro Celery, Carrot Ginger, Honey Turmeric, Antibiotic, Feel Better, Decongestant, Anti-Inflammatory, Carrot Coconut, and Lemon Ginger. The claims on their labels and/or website establish that the products are drugs because they are intended for use in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease; “introducing or delivering these products for introduction into interstate commerce for such uses violates the Act.”

Examples of some of the labeling claims that provide evidence that the firm’s products are intended for use as drugs include “Vanilla Mint”, with the product label and webpage “injury healing, respiratory healing,” and “Turmeric & Beets” with the product label and webpage “inflammation tamer, reduce inflammation, anti-inflammatory.” Additional claims include, “arthritis soother,” “best elixir for fighting and/or preventing illnesses,” “[its ingredients] are excellent for fighting candida or yeast found in the body,” and “this elixir helps heal the infection, knock out colds and reduce allergies.”

The FDA noted the firm’s products “are not generally recognized as safe and effective for the above-referenced uses and, therefore, the products are ‘new drugs.’” New drugs may not be legally introduced or delivered for introduction into interstate commerce without prior approval from FDA. FDA approves a new drug on the basis of scientific data and information demonstrating that the drug is safe and effective.

  • The firm’s Spinach Apple product is misbranded because the label fails to declare the statement of identity of the food; “Specifically, Spinach Apple is not an appropriate statement of identity for a food product, in that it is not appropriately descriptive of the foods.”
  • The firm processes products containing almonds, an allergen, as they process juice products that do not contain almond and during the FDA’s inspection, “your kitchen manager said that you only rinse the equipment with water between use with products containing almonds and products that do not contain almonds.”

The firm’s procedures do not ensure there is no cross-contact between allergen and non-allergen containing products.

The FDA asked Bamboo LLC to respond in writing within fifteen working days from their receipt of this letter.

“In your response, identify the steps you have taken or will take to correct the above-noted violations and prevent similar ones. In your response, please include the timeframes in which the corrections will be completed and provide any documentation that will assist us in evaluating whether the corrective actions have been made. If you are unable to complete the corrective actions within fifteen (15) working days, identify the reason for the delay and the timeframe within which you will complete the corrections.”

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Health inspectors have shut down a Minneapolis food seller because he was operating without a license, selling raw dairy products and uninspected meat, and refused to provide information on the origin of the products.

Armed with a search warrant, public health officials went into the unlicensed operation, doing business as Uptown Locavore, at 3137 Hennepin Ave. They where they found a variety of foods and beverages for sale in violation of several laws. Inspectors sealed all coolers and freezers that contained food, according to a spokesman from the city health department. The inspectors also documented some perishable food products stored at room temperature in the basement operation.

“Inspectors will work to determine the dispensation of those embargoed products, which could include returning the products to the farms that produced them or their other points of origin or condemnation and destruction,” the health department spokesman said.

The unlicensed operation is “a year-round drop site” that sells food direct from farmers to consumers, according to the Uptown Locavore website. It is a members-only “buying club” and offers delivery service. The operation was originally known as Traditional Foods Warehouse.

A complete inspection report is not yet available, but a complaint filed by the department states inspectors documented several violations, including finding foods and beverages without identifying labels as required by state law. Also, Minnesota law strictly controls the sales of raw dairy products. Only the farmers who produce unpasteurized dairy products can sell them, and only at specific locations such as farmers markets.

The raw dairy products being sold by Uptown Locavore are from a farmer whose dairy products sickened eight people with infections from E. coli bacteria in 2010, according to Daniel Huff, director of environmental health for Minneapolis. One of those victims developed kidney failure.

Officials condemned the raw dairy products on site at the basement retail operation. They can destroy the foods under Minnesota law, but Huff said the department would like to work with owner Will Winter to return the products to the farmers who produced them. If Winter does not cooperate, the city can obtain another warrant and destroy the products.

The operator of Uptown Locavore was offering a number of products for sale from his basement, including unpasteurized milk and cheese, fish, raw beef, raw pork, raw lamb, eggs, honey, coffee, and raw pizza dough. The owner and his attorney refused to provide officials with information about the origin of the products, according to the health department complaint.

In a Facebook post, the operator of Uptown Locavore said the public health officers are “bullies” when it comes to small businesses such as his. Winter’s website says the business has been operating since 2008 and sells high-quality food from local farmers.

“The policy at these agencies is clearly against small enterprise,” Winter wrote on Facebook. “Even without complaints we are GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT! They want to shut down anything except the big box stores that, in this case, support Big Ag.”

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Foodborne disease outbreaks and recalls usually dictate the foods we cover. We usually follow the pathogens without any other discriminating factor. So, if we are focused on beef, or spinach, or sprouts, or cantaloupe, or whatever, we just follow the story. Of course, there are always exceptions to rules. Food Safety News has been fortunate in the past five years to be associated with some extraordinary journalists. We were able, mostly in 2011, to bring on two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Andrew Schneider to work on some special projects for us. His job was to poke into some food dangers not related to bacteria and viruses. In his time with us, Andrew turned his spotlight on arsenic finding its way into juices and rice, nanoparticles in food, and, oh yes, honey. His series of investigative reports on honey remains very much alive on Food Safety News. They’ve attracted thousands upon thousands of readers and generated hundreds of comments. It continues to this day. The most popular of these reports was his story on the testing of honey purchased from retail stores all over the country: Tests Show Most Store Honey Isn’t Honey: Ultra-filtering Removes Pollen, Hides Honey Origins. We call it the “bogus honey story,” and I caught up with Andrew about it because, this past week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) came out with new “draft guidance” for the honey industry on “Proper Labeling of Honey and Honey Products.” His Pulitzers for investigative reports on organ transplants and the medical airworthiness of airline pilots are now in the journalism history books, but Schneider acknowledges that his article on bogus honey for Food Safety News is “the story that won’t die.” He still gets from six to 15 calls every month from consumers, packagers, and state and federal investigators about the quality of the honey they are dealing with. The crux of the issue is that when the pollen, those microscopic particles from deep inside the flower, are totally removed, there’s no way to tell if the “honey” came from a legitimate and safe source. Pollen is removed from honey by a process known as ultra-filtering, in which honey is heated, sometimes watered down, and then forced through micro-filters with high pressure. Once the pollen is removed, it opens the door to illegal dumping of honey measured by the tonnage. For years, the Chinese have illegally dumped into the U.S. market millions of dollars worth of their “honey,” which is often exposed to illegal antibiotics. They have a harder time getting their “laundered” honey into places such as Europe because many world food-safety authorities say that ultra-filtered honey missing its pollen is no longer honey. Those countries insist on being able to determine the origin of the honey being sold within their national boundaries. This is probably where you expect me to say that, with the new draft guidance, we are shortly going to know where our honey comes from. But, sadly, FDA has no intention of closing the bogus honey loophole. Schneider tells me that his sources who investigate these shipments say that “adulterated Chinese honey is still flowing into U.S. ports.” Nothing is going to change. Indeed, the main problem is that FDA simply will not define honey as containing pollen and, therefore, make it traceable to its country of origin. Instead, the agency goes off about how it accepts the “common usage” of the term “honey,” which is “a thick, sweet, syrupy substance that bees make as food from the nectar of flowers and store in honeycombs.” FDA’s “guidance” says that honey is a “single ingredient food” and the floral source need not be declared. In a nutshell, FDA is drawing its line at labeling issues and is not going to get involved in whether pollen is missing. In the unlikely event that some test results pop up showing positives for antibiotic residues of chloramphenicol or fluoroquinolones, FDA promises it will do its enforcement thing. The same people Schneider talks to down in the trenches say that those who trade in adulterated Chinese honey have powerful, well-financed lobbyists to keep FDA away from doing anything effective about laundered honey. They’ve been successful in their mission for a long time, too. Back on March 8, 2006, the American Beekeeping Federation tried to get FDA to adopt the world standard for establishing the identity of honey by filing a petition. It was formally rejected by the current administration on Oct. 5, 2011, which suggested – we kid you not – that the same goal could be achieved with “honesty and fair dealing.” In the month after that petition was denied, Food Safety News went on a shopping spree buying honey at retail all over the country to acquire the honey samples Schneider required for his independent testing story – when he found that three out of four jars or bottles of honey were missing their pollen. All those involved in Chinese honey laundering are probably still laughing over the line about “honesty and fair dealing.” Ultra-filtered Chinese honey that may be adulterated with illegal antibiotics and heavy metals is blindly accepted here in the U.S., but it’s blocked by less-trusting countries around the world. Safe, pure honey is important to those countries. But, apparently, we are not among them. P.S. Andrew Schneider first came to my attention about a decade ago when he was working for the late, great Seattle Post-Intelligencer writing about the asbestos poisoning of the little mining town of Libby, MT. Along with P-I editor David McCumber, he captured that amazing story in the book “An Air That Kills.”

Five people and two U.S. honey processors were charged with federal crimes last week as a result of an investigation into illegal importation of honey from China, known as “Honeygate,” led by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security Investigations. The government is alleging that Chinese honey — which can be laced with illegal and unsafe antibiotics — was misdeclared when it was imported to the United States and routed through other countries to evade more than $180 million in anti-dumping duties. HSI and Customs and Border Protection said late last week they have stepped up efforts to combat commercial fraud that directly impacts the economy and public health. The charges come more than a year after an investigation by Food Safety News found that laboratory tests could not detect the origin of more than three quarters of honey purchased at retail locations because ultra-filtration methods remove naturally occurring pollen and make honey impossible to trace. Many in the industry say this practice contributes to honey laundering. As one honey producer put it: “It’s no secret to anyone in the business that the only reason all the pollen is filtered out is to hide where it initially came from and the fact is that in almost all cases, that is China.” According to the government, Honey Holding, which was doing business as Honey Solutions of Baytown, Texas and Groeb Farms Inc. of Onsted, Michigan — two of the country’s largest honey suppliers — have entered into deferred prosecution agreements. Honey Holding has agreed to pay $1 million and Groeb Farms has agreed to pay $2 million in fines. Both companies have also agreed to implement corporate compliance programs as part of their respective agreements. “These businesses intentionally deprived the U.S. government of millions of dollars in unpaid duties,” said ICE Deputy Director Daniel Ragsdale. “Schemes like this result in legitimate importers and the domestic honey-producing industry enduring years of unprofitable operations, with some even being put out of business. We will continue to enforce criminal violations of anti-dumping laws in all industries so American and foreign businesses all play by the same rules.” In a news release last week, the government said the individual defendants also include three honey brokers, the former director of sales for Honey Holding and the president of Premium Food Sales Inc., a broker and distributor of raw and processed honey in Bradford, Ontario. As reported in 2011, Ernie Groeb, the president and CEO of Groeb Farms Inc., which calls itself “the world’s largest packer of honey,” told Food Safety News that doesn’t have a specific requirement regarding pollen content for the 85 million pounds of honey Groeb Farms purchases. “We buy basically what’s considered raw honey. We trust good suppliers. That’s what we rely on,” said Groeb. The government started investigating allegations of circumventing anti-dumping duties in the honey trade in 2008. The investigation resulted in charges against 14 individuals, including executives of a German food conglomerate. Several people were charged with evading approximately $80 million in anti-dumping duties on Chinese honey and officials seized more than 3,000 drums of honey that illegally entered the U.S. The second phase of the investigation, announced last week, focuses on honey that was bought and processed by U.S. companies for domestic sale. “Some of that honey was adulterated with antibiotics not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in honey,” said DHS. “None of the charges allege any instances of illness or other public health consequences attributed to consumption of the honey. The investigation is continuing.” DHS did not return requests for more information about antibiotic residues in the illegally imported honey. “Trade fraud can have significant implications for the U.S. economy and consumers,” said Customs and Border Patrol Chief Operating Officer Thomas S. Winkowski, in a statement. “These products take jobs away from American workers and frequently violate U.S. health and safety standards, potentially endangering the public. CBP is committed to fighting these fraudulent actors alongside our government partners.” See Food Safety News‘ investigation on ultra-filtered and illegally imported honey by Andrew Schneider: Tests Show Most Store Honey Isn’t Honey. 

The annual raw milk games are underway in state capitols around the country, with this year’s action centered in the Midwest and West. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prohibits the interstate sales of raw milk, each state is free to make its own decisions about raw milk sales within its own borders. Public health experts generally hold that people who drink raw or unpasteurized milk have an increased risk of contracting serious foodborne diseases. But the timeless product has many advocates who claim access to raw milk is a “food freedom.” Texas Senate ChambersState elected officials must decide where to draw the line. And at least half a dozen states are thinking about changing their raw milk policies. These included Hawaii, Iowa, Indiana, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming. About 20 states currently ban commercial sales of raw milk entirely, while the other 30 states allow it in some form. Bills introduced into state legislatures this year mostly include familiar measures like allowing on-farm sales or permitting so-called “cow-share” agreements that make it possible for someone in the city to own part of a dairy cow and share in the milk. So far this year’s “wild idea” award would have to go to State Sen. Kent Sorenson (R-Milo, IA) who is the sponsor of Senate File (SF) 61. His bill imposes a moratorium on the administration and enforcement of all of Iowa’s statutes and rules affecting unprocessed food. The moratorium –beginning July 1, 2014–would cover raw milk, eggs, nuts, honey, fruits and vegetables. The bill requires state departments to report on Jan. 1, 2014 to the Iowa General Assembly “outlining all statutes and rules affected by the moratorium and proposals to most effectively amend or repeal those statutes and rules.” Food Safety News asked Sorenson what he is trying to accomplish with the bill, but he did not take the opportunity to comment. Iowa’s system of allowing lobbyists to declare support or opposition to a bill indicates SF 61 maybe in for some rough sledding. The Iowa Public Health Association, Association of Business and Industry, Visiting Nurses Services, Iowa Medical Society, Iowa State Association of Countries and Iowa Dairy Association are among those who’ve already signed up against SF 61. Other proposals that are in the works by states include: Hawaii – On-the-farm sales of raw milk and raw milk products would be permitted under House Bill (HB) 99 and Senate Bill (SB) 364, companion measures. The sale of raw milk and dairy products made with raw milk are currently prohibited in Hawaii. (Copies of the bills were not readily available.) Iowa – In addition to SF 61, Sorenson is also sponsoring SF 77 to allow dairy farms producing raw milk to engage in retail sales and exempting them from regulations imposed on the state’s Grade A producers of pasteurized milk. Indiana – During its last session, the Indiana General Assembly ordered the state Board of Animal Health to study the raw milk issue and report back to lawmakers. In that report, BOAH recommended what would be required to assure some modicum of safety if raw milk sales were to be permitted in the Hoosier State. So far, there are two raw bill bills before the Assembly. SB610 is a cow shares bill. SB 513 is a broader raw milk bill, requiring a permit, adherence to sanitation standards, direct farm sales to the consumer, and is limited to cows. It is not known if it meets all he BOAH requirements. Oklahoma — Currently only on-the-farm sales of raw milk are permitted in Oklahoma.   HB 1541 would go a little further by allowing the raw milk producer to deliver the product to the consumer’s home. Texas —The Lone Star state also currently limits raw milk sales to those made on-the-farm. HB 46 would expand the locations where raw milk sales could occur to homes and other venues including farmer’s markets, farm stands, flea markets and fairs. Wyoming – No commercial sales of raw milk are permitted in the Cowboy State. SF 0112 provides regulatory authority for the state to issue “small herd permits,” that would allow holders to share in the herd’s  raw milk production.

Burch Equipment LLC in North Carolina is expanding its recent recall of nearly 189,000 cantaloupes to now include all of this growing season’s cantaloupes and honeydew melons distributed in 18 states because they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. In the U.S. Food and Drug Administration update, issued very early Saturday morning, the agency noted that here have been no illnesses reported to date — the recall expansion is based on FDA’s recent finding of Listeria monocytogenes on a honeydew melon grown and packed by Burch Farms. The original recall of cantaloupes was initiated on July 28 after a Microbiological Data Program in New York found contaminated cantaloupe. Two days later, the recall was greatly expanded and the FDA warned the public to not eat the recalled melons after agency officials reported unsanitary conditions at the company’s packing shed. Now, more than 10 days later, the company and FDA are casting a wider net on the potentially-contaminated melons, including honeydew, which were not previously part of the recall. Earlier this week, the company clarified that although it had originally identified Athena cantaloupes as the variety it was recalling, it was actually recalling Caribbean Gold variety. According to FDA the recalled whole cantaloupes are identified by a red label reading Burch Farms referencing PLU # 4319. All cantaloupes involved in the recall were grown by Burch Farms, however some of the cantaloupes may have been identified with a “Cottle Strawberry, Inc.” sticker referencing the same PLU, but Cottle Strawberry, Inc. did not grow or process the recalled cantaloupe. Cantaloupes from Burch Farms were shipped in both corrugated boxes, which contain 9 cantaloupe per case, and in bulk bins. FDA said that Honeydew melons involved in the recall expansion “do not bear any identifying stickers and were packed in cartons labeled melons.” The cantaloupes and honeydew melons involved in this expanded recall were sold to distributors between June 23 and July 27 in several states, including: FL, GA, IL, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, and VA, VT and WV. FDA said that the melons could have further been distributed to retail stores, restaurants and food service facilities in other states as well. “Consumers who may have purchased these honeydew melons should contact the store where they purchased their melons, for information about whether those melons are part of this recall,” said FDA. The agency typically does not post a list of retailers who received recalled product, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture often does. The recall comes just weeks after the USDA decided to keep produce sampling at MDP up and running through the end of the year after the program had been slated for closure due to budget cuts and nearly a year after the deadly Listeria outbreak linked to Colorado cantaloupes last fall. Burch Equipment LLC is asking consumers who may recalled cantaloupes or honeydews to discard them. As the agency explained early Saturday, Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems, but can be less of a risk for those with healthy immune systems. “Healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea,” but the infection also poses a particular risk to pregnant woman because it can cause miscarriages and stillbirths. The incubation period, otherwise known as the length of time between consuming a product and becoming ill, for Listeria monocytogenes can be 1 to 3 weeks, but can also be as little as three days or as long as 70 days.

In the last several months various stories have resulted in misunderstanding and confusion about honey and honey filtration, leading some readers to believe that any honey without pollen is not real honey.

honey-spoon-350.jpg

This is not true. Honey without pollen is still honey nutritionally and in flavor, and that is why the U.S. Department of Agriculture identifies it as such.  This misunderstanding has also led to several class action lawsuits regarding purchases of honey without pollen.

  

The truth is that honey is made by honey bees from nectar of flowers and plants, not pollen.  Pollen grains may end up in the exposed honey in the hive through any number of incidental or accidental ways, but it is not used by honey bees to make honey. 

  

Consumers have varying opinions about their choice of honey type, flavor and origin.  There are many different kinds of honey available in the U.S. market, such as honey in the comb, liquid honey that is considered “raw”, creamed honey, as well as organic honey.   The majority of honey sold at retail in the U.S. every year, and preferred by most consumers, is the clear, golden liquid honey that has been strained or filtered to remove undesirable particles that make honey cloudy.  All honey crystallizes eventually; suspended particles (including pollen) and fine air bubbles in honey contribute to faster crystallization.  Filtering pollen and other particles out helps delay crystallization, allowing the honey to remain liquid for a much longer period than honey that has not been filtered.

   

According to the United States Standards, honey can be filtered to remove fine particles, pollen grains, air bubbles and other materials found suspended in the honey1.  In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) gives higher grades for honey that has good clarity.  Importantly, honey that has been filtered to meet USDA’s grading standards may not have pollen, but it is still honey.

  

News stories have reported on  illegal activities such as circumvention of tariffs on imported honey, and there are claims that some dishonest foreign suppliers may be “ultrafiltering” their honey to clean it up or remove the small amounts of pollen grains, often used as a marker to identify the country of origin.  Ultrafiltering is not the same as filtering honey. Somewhere during the telling and retelling of these news stories, the term “ultrafiltered” became misused and confused with more traditional filtration methods used in the U.S. honey industry to produce clear, golden honey. 

 

Ultrafiltration, a totally different process, is a specific filtration method used in the food industry for pretreatment and purification.   It can filter particles smaller than 1/10 of a micron (a spider web is about 2 microns in diameter).    Pollen grains vary in size from about 5 to 200 microns, large enough to be filtered with more common filtration methods.

     

In contrast to the filtration methods used by many U.S. honey packers to meet USDA grading standards, ultrafiltration is a more complex process that results in a sweetener product.  The FDA has said this product should not be labeled as honey, and the National Honey Board supports this position.  Some have confused filtration and ultrafiltration, incorrectly applying FDA’s position on ultrafiltered honey to any honey without pollen.

  

The fact is, honey that has been filtered may not have pollen, but it is still honey by national standards and is preferred by many consumers.  

 

For more information on honey, I invite readers to visit the National Honey Board’s website at www.honey.com.

1 For decades, many U.S. honey packers have been filtering raw honey prior to bottling in accordance with USDA’s United States Standards for Grades of Extracted Honey (May 23, 1985).  According to section 52-1393 of the Standards , Filtered honey is honey of any type defined in these standards that has been filtered to the extent that all or most of the fine particles, pollen grains, air bubbles, or other materials normally found in suspension, have been removed.  Section 52.1394 of the Standards also says that Pollen grains in suspension contribute to the lack of clarity in filtered style.  

Bruce Boynton is CEO of the National Honey Board, a federal research and promotion board under USDA oversight that conducts research, marketing and promotion programs to help maintain and expand markets for honey and honey products.  The National Honey Board is not a regulatory agency nor does it have powers of enforcement.  The 10-member board, appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, represents producers (beekeepers), packers, importers and a marketing cooperative.

My interest in health and nutrition began some 30 years ago. At 19 I quit smoking and for the first time in my life put on some extra pounds. (I’m sure it had something to do with the Hershey chocolate bars I consumed to ward off each and every cigarette craving.) Anyway, these extra pounds motivated my investigation of weight loss diets and I was horrified to discover that everything I’d been consuming my entire life was in essence a physiological time bomb. Processed foods are bad for you? Who could have known? And how could this be? I mean, if processed foods hurt people, why are they allowed to be sold? Having always been an avid reader I was amazed to discover a world replete with nutritional information regarding diet and how to eat healthy. I slowly transformed my bad habits. I quit my job at a fast food restaurant and went to work in a vitamin store. Running replaced my affinity for cigarettes and my former assortment of junk food was nowhere to be found in the health food store I now regularly found myself. Studying food labels became the rule, and I shunned any artificial flavorings, colorings, chemicals or preservatives. I juiced, ate fruits and vegetables, whole grain products, yogurt and baked chicken and fish. Raw eggs, milk and cheese also became part of my new diet after I came across encouraging literature regarding their benefits. (Raw milk is legal in California, so its purchase only required a quick trip to the health food store.) My fervent dedication to eating well lasted for several years. When my husband entered my life, it became very difficult to maintain the purity of my diet. As time passed, I continued to eat healthier than most of my peers, but not as strict as I had for those few years in my late teens and early 20s. A search for possible answers to ADD After college, my husband and I both entered the field of education. I work as a school counselor and he teaches government and economics. In 1995 we bought our second home and in December of 1998 we adopted our son Christopher Chase Martin. Life was good. At approximately four years of age, our son demonstrated signs of Attention Deficit Disorder without hyperactivity. He was a very bright child. He could recite the alphabet at 17 months, but could not stay focused when playing board games or any activity requiring focusing or fine motor skills like coloring and writing letters. He would tell me that it was too hard. Kindergarten confirmed my suspicions. Homework time was filled with frustration, which typically led to meltdowns. He could not complete homework without one parent sitting with him to keep him focused and on task. At our first parent/teacher conference, his teacher informed us about his focusing issues in the classroom. ADD is caused by a dopamine deficiency that occurs in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. ADD medication increases the dopamine level in that part of the brain, allowing it to work properly. I felt that Chris was too young to be placed on stimulant medication (a form of amphetamine) so I searched for natural ways to increase his dopamine levels. Some say children with ADD should avoid artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, white flour and white sugar. Chris rarely consumed any of these items. Reducing sugar of all kinds, including juice and even honey, is strongly encouraged. However, the significant challenge we faced was removing dairy and wheat from his diet, a must due to the discovery that many children and adults with ADD have food sensitivities to these products. Chris is a picky eater and all of his favorite foods contained dairy and wheat. I started by reducing wheat-based products and replacing them with baked, gluten-free products. Important vitamins and minerals, including more omega 3s, were added and we immediately noticed a profound effect on Chris. Within two weeks he did homework without the normal fuss and his handwriting improved dramatically. The teacher reported that his on-task behavior had also improved in the classroom. All was not perfect, however. A couple of years passed and Chris was still beset with several symptoms of ADD, although nowhere near as severe as they had been. He was slower than other children in completing his school work–but he finished it. He still needed help with homework and one parent would always assist in that regard. Extensive writing assignments were difficult because he couldn’t stay focused long enough to get everything he wanted to say on paper. To accommodate this weakness, he would verbally communicate what he wanted to say and one parent would type it. Could raw milk remedy our dairy quandary? During this time, Chris also faced congestion issues, waking with a stuffy nose and a cough. These symptoms usually dissipated as the day progressed but it did become his normal day. It was disconcerting. I was convinced it was related to dairy consumption but I was semi-paralyzed by the thought of removing his beloved organic pasteurized milk, yogurt and cheese. I was at a loss. If I removed dairy from his diet, what he would eat? The dairy dilemma was nagging at me until one particular trip to our local health food store. There, in the store window, I saw a poster that would change our lives forever. Organic Pasture Dairy Company was advertising raw milk, suggesting relief from lactose intolerance, digestive disorders and asthma. I remembered reading (30 years ago) that raw milk was somehow healthier than pasteurized milk. I began to wonder about raw milk again — was it the answer to our son’s dairy quandary? If he consumed raw milk would it relieve his congestion? I didn’t purchase the milk that day because I also remembered the reason I had stopped drinking raw milk: a Salmonella outbreak involving Alta Dena Dairy that resulted in a recall. Food poisoning is far more serious than I had imagined, but I must admit I was as na√Øve as most regarding the seriousness of such pathogens. My notion was that the worst one might expect was a stint of diarrhea and vomiting; I had no idea these pathogens could kill you. Every week after seeing the sign I would stop at the raw milk shelf and consider buying it for Chris. Several times I picked it up only to put it back. Time passed. In the meantime, I had found Dr. Joe Mercola’s website and began subscribing to his newsletter. To my surprise, random articles about the purported health benefits of raw milk populated his site. As I read them, I unfortunately started to feel at ease with the idea of drinking raw milk. I was finally convinced after visiting the Organic Pastures website. I found pleasing claims describing their cows, how they were fed, how their milk was regularly tested and how they had never found a pathogen in all the years they had been in business. Their website also stated that if cows consumed grass they wouldn’t harbor pathogens. OPDC cows were advertised as being 100 percent pasture fed. They even posted all of their test results on their website and based upon this information I believed that the milk they produced would be safe for my son to consume. In mid-August, 2006, I purchased a quart of raw milk. I wondered if Chris would like it. Chris’s ordeal from E. coli infection begins Chris drank raw milk for approximately two weeks. The last bottle he would drink I bought on a Friday and by Monday evening I noticed it was already turning sour. I remember feeling frustrated that I had paid so much money for something that soured so quickly. I dumped the remaining milk down the drain and threw the bottle in the kitchen trash can. The next evening, September 5, Chris returned home from his martial arts workout with a headache and low grade fever. He did not attend school the next day, due to his lethargic state. He slept most of the day. That evening he felt better and ate a good dinner, but it didn’t last. Later that night, the diarrhea started. We thought it best he stay home one more day. His second day was filled with repeat trips to the bathroom and by early evening we noticed blood in his stool. This discovery prompted an immediate trip to the emergency room. Within an hour of arriving at the hospital, Chris became severely weak. He began vomiting regularly, experienced no relief from the diarrhea and was now in pain. He became so weak he could not lift himself onto the bedside toilet and required our assistance each time. For the next five days, both day and night, we witnessed our son struggle every 15 to 30 minutes with these ceaseless discharges. Nothing could prepare a parent for this kind of agony as we watched helplessly, praying it would stop. It was a heart wrenching. Upon entering the emergency room we had no way of knowing that we would not return home or go to work for two months. Chris had a severe case of E.coli 0157:H7 food poisoning that developed into hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Our son fought a war which he almost lost, against an invisible enemy. The damage done by this bacterium is incomprehensible. Videos about Chris’ experience can be found on the Real Raw Milk Facts and CDC websites. From RealRawMilkFacts.com Soon it was discovered that five other children had become ill with the same E.coli infection and one other child also developed HUS. Interviews with the families involved determined that the only common food the children had consumed came from Organic Pastures Dairy Company. Another outbreak linked to Organic Pastures milk In November 2011, a repeat outbreak occurred, this time infecting five children with E.coli 0157:H7. Three of these children developed HUS. Once again, interviews determined that the only common food consumed among the children came from Organic Pastures Dairy Company. For those of you unfamiliar with the source of contamination, let me paint a graphic picture: cow feces are in the milk. Drinking contaminated raw milk, as happened to my son, can make you very ill and even cost you your life. Bottom line is that cows defecate in huge quantities without much consideration to their personal sanitation. Also consider the juxtaposition and proximity of a cow’s anus and teats, coupled with the fact that they lounge in their own feces and defecate while being milked. Beginning to get the picture? Mistakes during and after the milking process do happen. That is why raw milk is considered a high risk food and why in 1924 “grade A pasteurization” became recommended federal policy. It is all about the feces. So if raw milk is a high risk food, why would someone choose raw milk for their children? There are many moms, like myself, whose children suffer from ADD, autism, asthma, eczema, digestive disorders or food allergies. We struggle to find answers to help our children. According to the CDC, approximately 43 percent of children have some sort of chronic medical issue and that number does not include children who have cancer. Most parents will turn to their medical doctor for answers and if that doesn’t work, some will hope to find a remedy through nutritional alternatives. I assume most would agree that eating fewer processed foods and eating more whole foods is a sound nutritional path. Sadly, when reading about nutrition there is no escaping information about the Standard American Diet (also referred to as SAD), which consists of processed foods filled with hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, refined white flour and sugar, artificial flavors and colors, MSG, and preservatives. Our kids gorge on sodas, sugary cereals, French fries, potato chips, cookies, cakes and myriad fast food choices. Much of this food comes from a box, package or can and is loaded with chemicals few recognize or can pronounce. Also, there are many different food crusades emerging across the nation: the Traditional Foods, Organic Foods, Locally Grown, Vegan and Food Freedom — just to name a few. They all share the desire to escape eating mass-produced industrialized food and do not consider food from a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation, also known as a CAFOs, a healthy practice. Milk produced by cows raised in CAFOs is considered by some health experts to be “sick milk.” The cows are raised in horribly crowded conditions, they are fed genetically modified soy and corn along with low doses of antibiotics to keep them from becoming ill, and then they are injected with RBGH, a growth hormone, to coerce the cows into producing more milk. After this milk is harvested, it is ultra-pasteurized to kill loitering bacteria and homogenized to keep the fat from rising. The milk currently sitting on our grocery shelves is not the same milk that our grandparents and great-grandparents consumed. This milk is processed milk. Would you eat raw poultry? This leads to confusion. The act of heating milk to kill dangerous bacteria gets mixed into all the other information about how our modern day milk is produced. Does the pasteurization process alone, heating the milk, alter its nutritional benefits? We cook poultry, fish, meat, vegetables, and bake a variety of foods and they are still considered to be nutritious, unprocessed foods. Could you imagine eating a casserole or chicken that has not been cooked? The question, is does the simple act of heating milk render it processed? The Weston A. Price Foundation thinks so. Dr. Weston Price was a dentist in the 1930s. He traveled the world studying traditional cultures. He found common variables in all traditional diets that promoted health, especially fats. He observed health consequences for those eating processed foods and a renewal of health when a traditional diet was re-introduced. The Weston A. Price Foundation notes this distinction about milk: pasteurized milk is processed and raw milk is fresh, unprocessed, and when consumed in its natural state is full of life producing enzymes and probiotics. WAPF believes that the pasteurization process destroys the nutrients as well as alters the protein structure of the milk. Their mission is to have raw milk sales legal in all 50 states and they do not want the government regulating its production. Misleading consumers to think raw milk is safe WAPF also professes that cows fed all-grass diets cannot harbor pathogens and that raw milk possesses the inherent ability to kill pathogens. They believe that if you know your farmer and the milk is not produced by a CAFO, the milk is safe to drink. This misinformation regarding raw milk leads well-intentioned consumers to believe that raw milk is safe to drink. WAPF is organized in every state and their goal is to encourage raw milk consumption. Their website lists a multitude of illnesses that supposedly can be cured simply by drinking fresh, unprocessed milk. Infants and children are specifically targeted for consumption of this enchanted elixir. Unfortunately, this generation has lost touch with one important notion: why was pasteurization implemented in the first place? We are far removed from the horrors that occurred 100 years ago. Raw milk seems an easy solution to many physical ailments and it seems safe because few children are currently dying from its consumption. But I know the horror of the risk one takes when consuming raw milk, intimately. Had my son’s face-off with raw milk happened even 30 years ago, he would have died. Modern medicine and machinery (ventilators, kidney dialysis, blood, plasma and platelet transfusions, antibiotics, narcotics, intravenous nutrition and surgeries) ultimately saved his life. So let’s return to the original question: why would someone drink raw milk? For over a decade, the Weston A. Price Foundation has been proselytizing about the perceived health benefits of raw milk consumption, which also happens to coincide with times of economic hardship. Family farms are disappearing in an environment when you have a growing population becoming increasingly aware of the health costs of eating processed foods and they want to support their local farmer, which becomes the perfect marriage for raw milk production and consumption. Consumers are led to believe they are purchasing a healthier, unprocessed food and at the same time the feel good about economically supporting their local farmer. But like all marriages, they tend to lose their charm when someone becomes seriously ill. Since January of 2010, there have been 23 raw milk outbreaks with 300 illnesses. Disseminating dangerous myths The choice to give my son raw milk was tragic. And at the time, I didn’t know there was a raw milk movement in the United States. This movement is led by the likes of: Sally Fallon Morrell, Dr. Ted Beals, Dr. Ron Schmid, and Mark McAfee, owner of Organic Pastures Dairy. This band of zealots would have you believe that the foundation of good health can only be found in a bottle of raw milk. Sally Fallon Morrell is the president of the Weston A. Price Foundation. She owns a publishing company called New Trends Publishing, Inc. and has co-authored a book titled “Nourishing Traditions,” which focuses on eating the traditional, unprocessed foods of our ancestors. She encourages pregnant women to consume raw milk, and heartily endorses feeding it to infants and children. Within the movement, she has received accolades for her raw milk infant formula. Dr. Ted Beals, a retired pathologist, tries to use his credentials to give legitimacy to the movement. When state legislatures consider bills to legalize raw milk, Dr. Beals shows up as a witness. While he acknowledges that outbreaks caused by raw milk do occur, he says other foods have caused more illnesses. He does not believe raw milk is a high-risk food. “The Untold Story of Milk,” by Dr. Ron Schmid, regarded as the raw milk bible, was published by Sally Fallon Morrell. It presents an overview of the history of pasteurization and outlines all the reasons people should be drinking raw milk instead of pasteurized milk. Three dangerous myths are disseminated in this book: grass fed cows don’t harbor pathogens, raw milk has innate properties that kill pathogens and if you know your farmer, the milk is safe. Mark McAfee owns the largest raw milk dairy in the United States and is a super salesman for the raw milk movement. He is a dynamic speaker and a passionate educator about the perceived health benefits of raw milk. He hosts “Share the Secret” educational forums throughout California encouraging people to consume raw milk, and is commonly seen at raw milk rallies across the country. However, his sales pitch for raw milk fails to include information about the two raw milk outbreaks at his dairy, both involving acute E. coli 0157:H7 infections, resulting in 11 seriously ill children, five of whom experienced kidney failure. And finally, there is my friend David Gumpert, host of The Complete Patient Blog and author of “The Raw Milk Revolution.” His blog provides a forum for raw milk advocates, who believe in their constitutional right to food freedom, to voice their opinion. I refer to David and myself as bookends in the movement. He advocates for the family farmer’s right to sell milk without pasteurizing it, and I advocate for the victims who have been injured by raw milk and try to warn future victims about the potentially serious health consequences they might encounter. The Weston A. Price Foundation has chapters all across the country and says its numbers have grown dramatically in the past decade. Members believe in the philosophy of Weston A. Price, they eat according to the information provided in the book Nourishing Traditions and they believe the myths about raw milk written in the Untold Story of Milk. These growing chapters grind incessantly for the legalization of raw milk in states where it is currently illegal; in states where raw milk is legal, their aim is to relax existing regulations to their benefit. Sally Fallon, Ted Beals and Mark McAfee persistently advocate in state legislatures across the country regarding the perceived health benefits of raw milk. Victimized again by falsehoods My experience with these characters has been appalling. My son’s near-death experience was hell to pay for my mistake, but I was not prepared for the second victimization. Rather than acknowledge the tremendous harm done in the first Organic Pastures outbreak, and then search for the reasons this happened to avoid future problems, they chose a different, rather slimy path to muddy the truth and deflect any culpability. Their reaction was morbid. The lies began immediately about our son’s case and some of these falsehoods could be found on the Weston A. Price Foundation website. I wrote to Sally Fallon requesting that she remove the distortions. Instead of honoring my appeal, she injected these pathetic fabrications into Ron Schmid’s updated version of his book. This whole matter was very twisted and patently shows how they would hawk their souls to convince their followers that raw milk is always safe to drink. People who choose raw milk for themselves or their families believe they are making an informed decision. They believe the benefits outweigh the risks. They have read the Schmid’s book or literature endorsed by WAPF. However, a truly informed decision should also address the potential health consequences. Until both sides are presented and considered, any decision to consume raw milk is based on propaganda and ignorance. I was ignorant and I have spoken to many others who have become ill or who have had children that became ill after consuming contaminated raw milk. Sadly, they all believed the risks were minimal, which brings me to bottom line: would any mother’s choose raw milk for their children if they knew that it could seriously harm or even kill them? Never! Consumers should understand the risks With the abundance of literature about raw milk proselytizing its unproven benefits, how are consumers to learn about the dangers? When I purchased my raw milk it would have been nice to have some safety information to counteract the large poster in the store window advertising the alleged benefits. Perhaps a sign at the shelf where the milk sat would have helped me discern fact from fiction at Organic Pastures website. Warning labels are required on raw milk sold in California, but it is located in very small print on the back of the bottle. I never saw the warning message nor did I know to look for it. In states where raw milk is sold in grocery stores, at farmers markets, or even on the farm, I would like to see this warning label in large, bold, conspicuous print: Warning: Unpasteurized milk, also known as raw milk, is a raw agricultural product and may contain harmful bacteria (not limited to E. coli, Campylobacter, Listeria, and Salmonella) and can lead to serious injury and even death. Pregnant women, infants, children, the elderly, and persons with lowered resistance to disease (immune compromised) have higher risk for harm, which may include bloody diarrhea, vomiting, fever, dehydration, Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, Guillian-Barre Syndrome, Reactive Arthritis, Irritable, Bowel Syndrome, miscarriage, or death. Note: Raw Milk must be kept refrigerated at 40 degrees at all times. This warning label would offset safety misinformation and give the unsuspecting consumer a fighting chance at becoming informed about the potential hazards lurking in raw milk. No danger in removing dairy from diets It has been nearly six years since I made the catastrophic decision to give my son raw milk. He would have been spared tremendous suffering had I simply followed my instincts to simply remove all dairy from his diet instead of trying raw milk. As it turns out, when Chris consumes dairy products, the casein protein delivered to his blood stream works as an opiate on the brain. In other words, this protein works like a drug and causes Chris to become unfocused. His body has a negative reaction to both casein peptides and whey protein in milk. Once removed, his ability to focus greatly improved. He no longer needs a parent during homework and all morning congestion is gone. My son improved from the absence of store bought milk, not from the addition of raw milk. A word of wisdom to other parents whose children may have a negative reaction to store bought pasteurized milk, whether allergies, asthma, autism, ADD, ear infections, eczema or digestive issues: try removing all dairy products and see if the symptoms improve. There is no risk in removing dairy products. The calcium and vitamins found in milk can easily be attained from other foods or supplements during your experiment. One final thought about Sally Fallon: despite my believing she is completely irresponsible promoting the consumption of raw milk to infants and children, her cookbook “Nourishing Traditions” does have excellent information. This book is like having your grandmother in the kitchen passing down generations of food preparation wisdom. Food fermentation, both dairy and vegetable, is a focus for obtaining beneficial bacteria. Sally Fallon writes that people can obtain beneficial bacteria from kefir and yogurt made with pasteurized milk, so I’m not sure how or why the hyper-focus on raw milk emerged. So, if you are looking for a healthier way to eat, follow the suggestions in her book and just disregard everything you read about raw milk. Don’t profit from poisoning people I would like to say something about supporting local dairy farmers. I have empathy for the plight of the small family farmer, but it can’t come at the cost of harming people. Both raw milk farmers and consumers need to be educated about the risks of raw milk consumption. Poisoning people with raw milk is not going to economically help the local farmer. Feeding the cows grass and treating them humanely is not going to prevent cow feces from getting in the milk. If you want to support your local raw milk farmer, home pasteurization is one solution. People can learn how to pasteurize their own milk using a home pasteurizer or double boiler. If you suffer from lactose intolerance, take the digestive enzyme lactase. The perceived benefits of consuming raw milk will never outweigh the risk of harming yourself or your child. And finally, my son still eats an organic, unprocessed diet without dairy products. In fact, no one in our family consumes dairy products. It was difficult making the switch, but well worth it. In the past year, no one in our family has been sick and Chris is hoping to receive a perfect attendance award at the end of the year. He is a happy, healthy teen who has yet to have a cavity, further evidence to never believe that the foundation of good health can only be found in a bottle of raw milk.