Odds are higher you'd get sick from processed milk than raw.
“Deadly listeria outbreak” claims CBS News yesterday.
According to the CDC announcement:
“In November 2015, samples of raw chocolate milk were collected from a raw milk conference held in Anaheim, California. The raw chocolate milk was produced by Miller’s Organic Farm. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) isolated Listeria from the raw chocolate milk and conducted WGS testing on the isolate to get more genetic information about the bacteria. On January 29, 2016, FDA informed CDC that WGS determined that the Listeria bacteria from the raw chocolate milk was closely related genetically to Listeria bacteria from two people in two states who got sick in 2014, one from California and one from Florida.”
Samples were tested in 2015, and tied to illnesses in 2014? Doesn’t this strike anyone as an odd way to connect dots?
Miller’s Organic Farm owner Amos Miller told CBS news: “I don’t know that it was proved it’s on the farm here,” he said. “We hope and pray for the best.”
According to this story, no cases of raw milk listeria have happened, at least until this latest news, in the last decade. Miller’s farm sells only directly as a membership club and had not heard from any of it’s members about any health concerns. Miller is still proceeding with its operations.
In the list of listeria outbreaks, which now includes the latest “multi-state” outbreak with two patients, processed, pasteurized dairy is listed 5 times. No other case of raw dairy is listed. A 2009 study indicated the most common foods implicated in listeriosis were deli meats, pasteurized soft cheese, and seafood. And yet the CDC has a whole section on its website devoted to raw milk.
Several pro-raw milk organizations believe there is an anti-raw milk bias. that is unfounded. The Weston A. Price foundation has a website dedicated to the topic, including a study from 2013 which claims “the forty-year worldwide absence of listeriosis cases from raw milk presented in a 2013 scholarly review, and affirmed in the QMRA results published in 2011, is attributed by European reviewers to the protective action of non-harmful bacteria found in raw milk.”
The Farm-to-Consumer Legal defense fund tracks raw milk laws as a counter measure to large dairies lobbying for friendly regulations. Raw Milk advocate John Schwenkler puts it this way: “Pasteurization is not a cheap process, and therefore the legal demand for pasteurization favors large producers. A small, independent dairy farm may very well not be able to afford pasteurization equipment (not at government standards, at least), and thus micro-dairies can rarely operate legally on their own. With the dairy industry more centralized, it becomes easier to track and regulate—and control.”
Stories such as these should raise awareness of overall risk awareness, but instead seem to serve to match our existing biases. The odds are higher of illness through pasteurized milk than raw, but either way, your odds are much higher in dying in a car wreck on the way to the store.
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