Got Typhoid? The raw milk debate.

In the early 1900’s, New York State  was ravaged by a typhoid epidemic.  One of the main culprits in spreading the disease was contaminated raw milk. (click on image to enlarge)

nytrawmilk
New York Times 12/08/07

A year earlier in NYC

milktyphoid
New York Times 02/11/06

That second article notes that  out the 1,322 cases in the City, 51% of all typhoid cases were traced to consumption of raw milk.  Due to the epidemic, New York State implemented mandatory pasteurization.

Fast forward to the present. Communities across the country have been enacting local laws under the name of food sovereignty. What’s food sovereignty, besides a hard word to spell?

Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.  (The International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty)

Apparently, in the United States this translates to mean freedom from state and federal food safety laws, particularly regarding milk and cheese.  There is a movement to exempt milk and cheeses from pasteurization laws, which apparently is an evil tool that only benefits corporations. Yes, these brainiacs want to eat food that is exempt from safety rules.

While these same advocates holler about the safety of gmos, from which not one  illness has ever been found, they champion foods that are known to cause illness and even death…. because they’re natural. These dumbasses truly believe there is no health danger. That is seriously dumbass.

Wait,  did I say dumbass? We’re starting to wade into imbecile territory now.  This is what the Campaign for Real Milk (CFRM) , Missouri has to say

Furthermore, in many children not fortunate enough to have started life on raw milk, raw milk given later in childhood has cured autism, behavior problems, frequent infections, deafness, asthma and allergies and other serious health conditions.

But wait, there’s more

 Raw milk is actually the safest food around (my emphasis) with so much consumer oversight and also with an extremely efficient built-in anti-pathogen mechanism!

In 2012, Missouri raw milk producer,  MooGrass Farms was cited as one of the sources of an  E. coli outbreak which sickened nine people in Missouri. They are listed as one of the raw milk purveyors on the CFRM website.

One raw milk fetishist, Kim Nash quoted in the above link said, “Basically any approach that’s not hand-in-hand with pharmaceutical and big medicine is being attacked.”

According the New York State Department of  Health, since 1993 “over  70 outbreaks of human illness from consumption of raw milk have been reported nationwide, affecting over 1,500 people and causing 185 hospitalizations and 2 deaths.”  There is a proviso regarding those statistics. There is very strong evidence the New York State Department of Health is in the udders of Big Milk.

In 2012, a multi-state campylobacter outbreak was traced to a Pennsylvania farm that sold unpasteurized milk. The contamination resulted in 148 illnesses.

Elsewhere in 2012:

Listeria Found in Pennsylvania Stump Acres Farm Raw Milk

2013:

Salmonella Outbreak Launches Search For Rogue Cheesemaker

Raw Milk May Have Sickened Three in Wisconsin with E. coli

The above are just a few samples of food  illnesses linked to raw milk and cheese. In the last year, hundreds have been sickened.

Approximately 29 states have laws allowing the sales of raw milk or raw milk products.  But due to the amount of illnesses caused by these products, some states that don’t allow the sales seem to content to keep it that way.

Last month, Indiana legislators allowed two raw milk bills to die without a vote, citing  an Indiana Board of Animal Health (BOAH) report  commissioned by the General Assembly. The report cited the dangers inherent in raw milk but ultimately wrote that it was more of a political decision. 

Even with the known risks associated with consuming unpasteurized milk, some consumers are demanding legal access to raw milk. BOAH cannot quantify this demand.

BOAH believes that pasteurization is a practice that is highly effective in reducing the risk of human illness from pathogens in raw milk. Distributing raw milk for human consumption will increase the risk that someone will become ill from consuming raw milk. But the decision to authorize or not the sale of unpasteurized milk to consumers is ultimately a political decision.

It was nice to see a legislature defer to the experts to decide an issue, unlike what’s been happening with the gmo issue. Although, the fact they let it die and didn’t have a vote speaks volumes. More than likely they didn’t want to have to deal with the shrill noise that would have emanated from the raw milk crowd.

So, while the chance of another typhoid epidemic is slim, the danger of illness due to raw milk still exists.

The Turtles: Can’t You Hear the Cows

3 thoughts on “Got Typhoid? The raw milk debate.”

  1. This issue is complex.

    I would agree with several things:

    –Raw milk may be contaminated with a number of harmful or even deadly microorganisms.

    –There is no evidence that raw milk is more nutritious than pasteurized milk.

    –The idea that raw milk cures or even treats anything is simply insane.

    That being said–I drink raw milk. Why? Because I have a couple of hobby cows. When I want a cold glass of milk, why go through the bother of heating it, cooling it, and skimming the scalded cream off? I also make cheese from raw milk, which is, of course, sufficiently aged for safety.

    Look at the statistics again:

    >>According the New York State Department of Health, since 1993 “over 70 outbreaks of human illness from consumption of raw milk have been reported nationwide, affecting over 1,500 people and causing 185 hospitalizations and 2 deaths.”<<

    That's a period of twenty years. 2 people dead in twenty years. 185 hospitalizations in twenty years. How many millions of instances of raw milk consumption does that represent? That's a pretty good record.

    Also: small farmers can't sell their milk because of the immense capital costs of all the equipment necessary for pasteurization. I think they should be allowed to sell raw milk–under the condition that is be labeled thus:

    RAW MILK: MAY CONTAIN PATHOGENS. CONSUME AT YOUR OWN RISK.

    Raw milk is just food. It's neither poison nor panacea.

  2. After I wrote that I realized the incidents didn’t rise to the level of outrage, but I still feel if you have the ability to knock it down to pretty much zero incidents, then you should do it.

    As to you drinking your own cow’s milk. I think that’s different. It’s straight from cow to you immediately. There is very little chance of contamination.

    And having looked again at those NYDOH stats I think they’re underestimating the number.

    1. Yep, we’re in basic agreement. There are so many crazies out there drinking raw milk as if it were some elixir that I don’t even like to tell people I drink it myself and use it for cheese. Labels for raw milk are definitely more worthwhile than those for genetically engineered foods.

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