Opinion: When E. coli threat looms, some milk lovers get a raw deal
June 10th, 2011
09:45 AM ET
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Alex B. Berezow is the editor of RealClearScience. He holds a Ph.D. in microbiology.

The strain of E. coli that has killed at least 25 people and sickened more than 2,600 others in Europe is a terrifying reminder that killer microbes lurk in places where we least expect them. Though it is not a reason to panic, this incident should force us to rethink some important food safety issues.

One good place to start would be to completely ban the sale of raw milk and juice.

In April, the FDA cracked down on an Amish raw milk producer for selling its product across state lines without proper labeling, both of which are in violation of federal law. This predictably led to cries of "big government" telling people what they can and cannot eat. But given the effects of the deadly microbe that has been creeping across Europe's food supply, the FDA's decision is looking very responsible.

Read - Opinion: The other E. coli threat? Raw milk

Previously - Cheese seized! Public Health Department raids raw dairy vendor

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Filed under: Dairy • Health News • Raw Food • Recalls • Tainted Food

soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. rawmilkmike

    Our government keeps telling us fresh milk is unsafe but according to these 2 US government studies raw milk actually has a negative risk factor.

    1. Raw Milk Consumption among Patients with Non–Outbreak-related Enteric Infections, Minnesota, USA, 2001–2010 by Trisha J. Robinson, Joni M. Scheftel, and Kirk E. Smith

    An estimated 17.3% of raw milk consumers in Minnesota may have acquired an illness caused by 1 of these enteric pathogens during the 10-year study period. (That's 1.7% per year.) or (1 in 59)

    2. About 48 million people (That's 15% per year or 1 in 6 Americans) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year from foodborne diseases, according to new estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    When you look at these 2 studies you can see that the US Center for Disease Control has inadvertently demonstrated that people who don't drink raw milk are 9 times more likely to contract a so called foodborne illness. In other words raw milk prevents 1.3 million cases of foodborne disease and 90 deaths every year in the US.

    Here's another non sequitur: Christopher Gardner, a researcher at Stanford University, said he wanted to find out if there really was any effect on lactose intolerance from drinking raw milk. When he found out that most of his over 500 lactose intolerant volunteers actually had no trouble digesting lactose(instead of admitting that he had just proven that lactose intolerance has nothing to do with lactose), he decided instead to do a study on 16 lactose malabsorbers.

    What's so absurd about this is that lactose malabsorption is not really a problem in this country while lactose intolerance most certainly is. Most lactose malabsorbers are not even mildly lactose intolerant. They claim to have proven us wrong when in fact they have actually proven us right.

    People that switch to raw milk and who drink a couple of glasses a day, know it has health benefits in a matter weeks and know it is safe in a matter of months.

    May 19, 2014 at 4:10 am |
  2. stephanie bugielski

    I am a licensed Raw milk dairy in NY. We are tested monthly just like any other food product that you see on your supermarket shelf, maybe even more so.
    Never had a problem in over 10 years. We also sell raw goat cheese.

    June 15, 2011 at 6:49 am |
    • Jerv

      I'd love to try raw goat cheese.

      June 15, 2011 at 7:41 am |
  3. Lee

    When you kill off all the beneficial bacteria what is left is a fantastic medium for culturing whatever is floating around. We drink our goats' milk raw and make cheese that is out of this world good tasting. We've never had better health.
    The author of this article is ignorantly parroting FDA/DoA dogma. The biggest threat to our food security comes from factory farms, capable of infecting and killing hundreds to thousands.

    June 14, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
  4. Sophie

    What Chris, David, CLT and A said.

    Did the author of this "article" even state his premise out loud before posting. He is in effect saying: "There's a problem, maybe with vegetables, so let's ban raw milk." Revoke this guy's PhD. Obviously, he's educated beyond his intelligence.

    I think the best statement in the article is, "..a terrifying reminder that killer microbes lurk in places where we least expect them." Exactly. Where you LEAST expect them. Like pasteurized milk and other USDA and/or FDA approved foods. Go get 'em, guys.

    June 11, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  5. A

    raw milk is one of the safest and cleanest products on the planet and people do not know that back in the 40's it was the number one go to remedy to cure -yes I said the C word C-U-R-E tuberculosis TB the reason why they ban this is because if 95% of the popualtion did this and iodine and pepper and a egg would notneed to scarf down all this junk food and in fact would be defined and strong and with very little health issues that are occurring today as a result of eating non nutreint foods like pasteurized and homogenized milk–all you have left is a glycated sugared protein that is indigestible to 95% and the other 5% do not use dairy because ofthe "evils of Dairy –Pasteurized that is
    want the facts email me and will send doc on the benefits and what they can really be not the rhetoric of today–and the amish should not have been harassed they know they wiill not get any opposition from a people who wish to be left alone

    June 11, 2011 at 12:07 am |
  6. CLT

    3 years ago I got a family cow – we milk her and drink the milk raw, as well as make yogurt, cheese, butter and other products, and we have been MUCH healthier - only one "sort of" cold in all that time, and I used to get them 2 or 3 times a year. Anecdotal evidence, but when it's my own health, I say give me more of that!

    June 10, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  7. David

    They can have my raw milk when they pry the glass from my cold dead fingers.... Which might be the case if I catch this strain of E.coli, but it's a risk I'm willing to take.

    June 10, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  8. RW

    Agree with Chris. Another important point is that we live in the USA, a FREE society. My take is that as long as someone is telling me what they are selling, it's my choice to ingest whatever I want. I can agree to some reasonable extent with businesses being held to a standard of labeling and cleanliness in handling, but I draw the line with the government telling me what I can consume, or even telling me what "food" actually is.

    June 10, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  9. Chris Rowan

    Typical shallow one-sided science conquers all statements from a guy who only understands a tiny sliver of the issue. America is the only society to be overfed and undernourished at the same time because we kill nutrients by overprocessing our food into edible foodlike substances. Raw milk contains some of the most power anti-infectives on the planet. That's how calves survive despite being born and growing up in cow dung. Processing is not the solution, it's the problem. Proper harvesting, handling and transport of foods is a better solution than processing all the basic nutritional value out.

    June 10, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Damel


      June 12, 2011 at 5:49 am |
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