Saturday, November 25, 2006

Pasteurized milk: Built Ford Tough

Pasteurized milk: Built Ford Tough
Brae Surgeoner, Commentary from the Food Safety Network (Nov. 22, 06)

In May 1943, Edsel Bryant Ford, son of auto magnate Henry Ford, died at the age of 49 in Detroit, of what some claimed was a broken heart.
Biology, however, decreed that Ford died of undulant fever, apparently brought on by drinking unpasteurized milk from the Ford dairy herd, at the behest of his father's mistaken belief that all things natural must be good.

Scores of consumers across North America have adopted what they believe to be a simple approach to good health including the consumption of raw, unpasteurized milk; many are willing to pay between $4.50 and $20 a gallon for what they perceive as the creamier taste and finer flavor.
In the U.S., 28 states permit the sale of raw milk under varying restrictions, but in

Canada, it has been prohibited under the Food and Drug Regulations since 1991. In an article published in 2005 concerning Canada’s rising black market for raw milk, a producer who agreed only to be interviewed if his identity was concealed, told a CTV reporter, “What we're providing is milk at its purest. I would say customers beg for the milk. It’s not even asking. They beg for the milk.” He further claimed that some of his customers drove upwards of 200 kilometers to buy his raw milk products – mostly city dwellers.

On Tuesday, health and law enforcement officials raided Michael Schmidt’s biodynamic farm near Durham, Ontario, armed with a search warrant and power to confiscate his computer hard drives, his milk equipment, and milk products. All of this part of an investigation into Schmidt’s distributing raw unpasteurized milk products.

Schmidt is no stranger to controversy. In 1994, the Owen Sound Health Unit raided his farm, seizing $800 worth of unpasteurized dairy products – charges were laid under the Health Protection and Promotion Act. Yet, for 12 years now Schmidt has continued to sell his raw milk. His clientele includes 120 families in the Toronto area - about 200 kilometers away.

This past September, two children who drank raw milk from a Whatcom County dairy in Washington State became ill with E. coli O157:H7. At the same time, four children, including two 8-year-olds in San Diego County, California were hospitalized with E. coli infection after consuming raw milk products. Despite this, raw milk advocates are adamant that if drinking raw is milk wrong, they don’t want to be right.

Health authorities cannot continue to turn a blind eye to such a defiant attitude. In December 2005, 18 people in Washington and Oregon, including six children were infected with E. coli O157:H7 after drinking an unlicensed dairy’s raw milk – two of the kids almost died. Closer to home, four cases of E. coli linked to unpasteurized milk were reported to Ontario health officials in April 2005; in this case, from an individual who routinely sold raw milk from the back of a vehicle parked in the city of Barrie. There are too many other such cases to mention. Additional outbreaks are listed at:

Raw milk drinkers believe the pasteurized milk found on grocery store shelves lacks the essential enzymes and nutrients necessary to absorb calcium -- yet research shows this is simply not the case. The only things lacking in pasteurized milk are the bacteria that make people -- especially kids -- seriously ill. Adults, do whatever you think works to ensure a natural and healthy lifestyle, but please, don't sneak around and break the rules to impose your dietary regimes on your kids.

Brae Surgeoner is a research assistant with the Food Safety Network at the University of Guelph.

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