October 19, 2014

CDC Asks States to Regulate Raw Milk

Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director of the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases, sent a letter to state public health departments, asking them place more restrictions on the sales of raw milk. The letter also asked those agencies to stress the dangers of consuming raw milk. In fact, public health experts say that pasteurization is one of science’s most effective food safety interventions.

Dr. Tauxe stresses the fact that raw milk and raw cheese caused 82% of all dairy-related outbreaks between the years 1973 and 2009. The CDC investigated 93 outbreaks linked to raw milk and raw milk products between 1998 and 2009. Those outbreaks caused 1,837 illnesses, 195 hospitalizations and 2 deaths. The CDC data shows the rate of raw milk outbreaks is higher in states where the sale of raw milk is legal than in states where the sale of raw milk is illegal.

The letter states, “to protect the health of the public, state regulators should continue to support pasteurization and consider further restricting or prohibiting the sale and distribution of raw milk and other unpasteurized dairy products in their states.” It continues, “adherence to good hygienic practices during milking can reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of milk contamination. pasteurization is the only way to ensure that fluid milk products do not contain harmful bacteria.”

At this time, 30 states allow for some form of raw milk sale or production. Eighteen states completely prohibit raw milk sales, and 17 states permit sales directly from the farm to consumers. The remaining states allow off-farm sales. Some farmers get around the prohibition by labeling their milk “not for human consumption”. Herd shares are another way raw milk producers  circumvent the law.

The CDC has recently updated their web site on raw milk, with information for consumers and related resources. The page includes links to information on the bacteria that raw milk carries, including Brucella, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, and E. coli. In addition, stories from people who consumed raw milk and were sickened by it are highlighted.

Comments

  1. Linda,

    Thank you so much for caring about the common good. To allow yourself to be abused by the ignorant and keep coming back shows how much you really care.

    I for one, appreciate everything you and other public health officials do for our nation. People honestly have no idea.

  2. Linda, Get off the CDC, FDA and health department payrolls. I eat raw beef from a nice farm, I eat raw organ meats, I drink raw milk and my infant to 8 year old children do. I would not touch anything pasteurized as it is valueless and far more toxic that Raw Milk. Do some research.

    Your reply smells very bad

    • Linda Larsen says:

      Wow, that’s really insulting. I do not work for the CDC, FDA, or any health departments. I have degrees in biology and food science and I understand how bacteria work. Pasteurization does NOT make milk valueless; it destroys pathogenic bacteria. And you are taking a huge risk feeding raw beef, raw organ meats, and raw milk to your children. Do some research.

      Notice how I’m not insulting you personally. Good day.

      • Heather says:

        Linda,
        I’m sorry but I must comment on this as well. Can you please tell me how pasteurization (and homogenization) do not render milk valueless, because I’m going to have to disagree with you there.

        • Linda Larsen says:

          We drink milk for vitamin D, calcium, and protein. Milk is not a good source of other vitamins. And pasteurization does destroy enzymes in milk. COW’S enzymes. That humans beings cannot use. Homogenization does not render milk valueless.

          In fact, milk is not a critical food at all; people can lead perfectly healthy lives without it.

    • Well, that’s just rude, Jeff. I always find it so ironic that the very people who benefit from public health advances, which is every American alive today, turn their backs on medicine and science that made their lives good in the first place. Without public health, you wouldn’t live longer than age 35, Jeff. And when you do get sick, I’m sure you’ll run right to the establishments you disparage: the health department.

  3. In an effort to protect Big Dairy from consumer freedom and competition by small farmers, the CDC presents an intellectually dishonest and one-sided argument intended to frighten consumers away from a nourishing food that people consumed safely for many centuries, long before pasteurization. If you would like to look objectively at the safety of raw milk, please read what farmers (realmilk.com), scientists (rawmilk.org), and real consumer advocates (westonaprice.org) have to say.

    If you don’t want to drink raw milk, don’t drink raw milk. But realize, you don’t own the bodies of others — they have the right to choose differently from you, and to live with the consequences of their actions. Do you have the individual right to harass, control or attack these people for making different choices that are harming no one? Do you think it is morally right for you to steal from, throw in a cage and point weapons at people peacefully choosing to buy, sell and consume different foods from the ones you do? (This is what happened at the Rawesome Foods raid – see youtube.com.) Well, your government doesn’t have that right either!

    You, in your individual capacity as a human being, have a moral responsibility to STOP asking organized groups of costumed people with guns (known as the government) to make war on your peaceful neighbors making different choices harming no one. Those calling for lawfare on their peaceful neighbors are entirely as guilty as those carrying out the warfare; they just lack the courage to do their own war-making.

    • Linda Larsen says:

      You can go ahead and drink raw milk if you want to. But what happens when you get sick? Can you treat yourself if you get an E. coli infection and develop hemolytic uremic syndrome?

      No. You depend on our health care system to take care of you. And that raises costs for everyone else, and it takes away resources that could be used to treat someone else who didn’t intentionally consume a dangerous product.

      The government has to spend thousands of dollars on investigations every time there is an outbreak. Everyone has to pay for that.

      No person is an island. We live as part of a community; something many people just don’t think about any more. Someone who drinks raw milk and gets sick does NOT “harm no one”. If you get sick you can pass that bacteria on to others. The costs of treating you affect all of us, through increased resources, taxes, and healthcare costs. The government has an ethical, legal, and moral duty to prevent dangerous products from entering the marketplace; they are given that power through the Constitution.

      As far as raw milk farmers being “threatened” by the government, here’s a solution: OBEY THE LAW.

      • You don’t need a doctor for diarrhoea.

        • Linda Larsen says:

          Oh really? Ever hear of dehydration? That’s the main complication from diarrhea. And it kills people.

          What if the diarrhea is bloody? People die from uncontrolled diarrhea; in fact, it’s the most common cause of death in developing countries AND the most common cause of infant deaths worldwide. About 1500 Americans die every year from diarrhea.

  4. If others can Choose to smoke and Choose to drink, Why Cant I Choose Raw Milk!?

    • Linda Larsen says:

      So you think raw milk should be as heavily regulated as alcohol and tobacco? Fine by me. You should be 21 years old before you can drink raw milk, and there should be graphic warning labels on all raw milk products. Public service announcements will talk about the dangers of raw milk consumption, and doctors will routinely warn against its consumption.

  5. I think that this is like most of the health stuff just fear mongering. My whole family including me grew up on raw milk. Not one of us ever had any health problems. Compared to so many regulated vegetables and fruits that made people sick over the years like the spinach and tomato affair and the peanut butter thing in GA. Raw milk is the healthiest milk there is. Just like nature made it and intended it. It is by far more healthier than all the chemicals we consume in all the processed food we are offered at the supermarkets.

    • Linda Larsen says:

      Well, good for you that you didn’t get seriously ill from drinking raw milk. Unfortunately, that is a very small sample size and is statistically meaningless. You are falling into the logical reasoning flaws of small sample size and over generalization (i.e. it didn’t happen to me, therefore it didn’t happen to anyone). So far this year, 142 people have been made seriously ill from raw milk in five outbreaks. Six children have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome and will have permanently damaged kidneys for the rest of their lives.

      The spinach, tomatoes, and peanut butter that have caused outbreaks were contaminated by bacteria through poor handling and cross-contamination; they are not inherently dangerous. Raw milk naturally contains dangerous bacteria; that’s one important difference. The other is that no one is saying contaminated spinach, tomatoes, and peanut butter should be sold because of freedom of choice.

      Raw milk is extremely UNhealthy. It routinely carries Campylobacter, Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli, and Brucella. Pasteurization has saved millions of lives over the years. Nature also made arsenic and dioxin; would you say that “nature” intended us to consume those products too? Nature also made bacteria and viruses. Our long life spans are actually a triumph OVER nature.

      • I just want to mention that most of the incidents with raw milk came about for the the same reasons than all the other food problems. Through poor handling and cross-contamination. If the milking is handled with care and sanitation there is nothing to worry about. That’s why you go to farms that you know the people and that have years of experience. And 142 people being sick this year from raw milk is a very low number compared to the number of people(275.000) that contracted cancer from the chemicals in our food.

        • Linda Larsen says:

          That is completely wrong. It doesn’t matter how cows are handled; there are going to be pathogenic bacteria in the milk. A cow’s udders are right next to her anus. It is physically impossible to prevent bacteria from getting into raw milk. It doesn’t matter how well you know the farmer or how much experience he has.

          And 142 people being sick from raw milk is not a small number. Just try telling the mothers of those six children who have lost their kidneys that they don’t count.

          Cancer is a complicated illness; it is not caused solely by chemicals in our food. Scientists and doctors, in fact, have absolutely no idea why some people get cancer and others don’t. They do know that genetics, aging, exposure to chemicals, and a myriad of other reasons contribute to the development of cancer. You cannot relate raw milk illnesses to cancer: it’s like comparing apples to oranges.

          • All I’m saying is that I want to choose for myself what I want to drink and eat. It should be everybody’s prerogative how they want to feed themselves and their families. It is definitely not the governments job to dictate us what and what not to eat or to drink. If I want to drink raw milk I should be able to buy it and drink it just like the guy next door that wants his whiskey. Who by the way can go an buy it on the corner liquor store even though everybody knows how bad that is for your health.

          • Linda Larsen says:

            You can’t do whatever you want; that is a common misconception. Please read what I wrote before. The U.S. Congress has been given the power by the Constitution to regulate products and to ban those that harm public health. And you can’t eat and drink whatever you want. There are laws that prevent public drunkenness and prohibit and restrict smoking. When the things you eat and drink cost taxpayers millions of dollars, that’s wrong. And especially when the illness you get from what you eat and drink is contagious, as all bacterial diseases are.

  6. Deborah says:

    wait – remind me again how many people have gotten sick from totally legal and sold in the store beef? Or what about spinich? If I read this correctly, thats less than 2000 people in a decade which is statistically NOTHING! Why are the CDC and legislators wasting time on this when there is such a problem with processing of beef and farming of veggies making hundreds of thousands of people sick each year?!!

    • Linda Larsen says:

      No one is saying that other foods do not cause foodborne illness. Beef is an inherently dangerous product too: it must be handled carefully to avoid cross-contamination and cooked thoroughly. Spinach is only dangerous when it is contaminated with poor handling practices. And when you consider that 2,000 people getting sick from raw milk times an average hospital cost of $47,000 (that rises to $6 MILLION when a SINGLE person gets HUS from an E. coli infection), that’s a significant amount of money. Two thousand people, each with a hospital bill of $50,000 is $100 MILLION. Just think what could be done with that money that was spent on completely unnecessary and preventable illnesses.

      I would never presume to tell anyone that their illness is “statistically nothing”. Two thousand people who have had their health damaged, sometimes seriously and for life, is not “nothing”. And the CDC and legislators are trying to make ALL food safer. That includes milk.

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