Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Raw milk drinkers may praise its richer flavor or claim it is more nutritious than pasteurized milk. No matter why they drink it, the demand for it is booming. In 2000, the Organic Pastures Dairy Company in the San Joaquin Valley near Fresno became California’s first raw milk dairy with certified organic pasture land. This year its co-founder, Mark McAfee, expects it to gross $6 million — up from $4.9 last year.
His raw milk is sold in 300 stores in California, where it is legal. He also has an $80,000 a month mail order business, shipping creams and cheese as well as milk to all 50 states. He believes he reaches 35,000 customers a week for his raw milk products.
This reader's first thought was, ewww, Listeria, among other things:
Food scientists can hardly believe that so many consumers have turned their back on one of the most successful public health endeavors of the 20th century. In 1938, for example, milk caused 25 percent of all outbreaks of food- and water-related sickness.
With the advent of universal pasteurization, that number fell to 1 percent by 1993, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nutrition advocacy group in Washington.
Put me firmly in the food scientist column. Here's a sampling of some milk-borne incidents in recent memory, from the FDA:
* July 2004--The Indiana Public Health Department advised consumers to check their refrigerators and freezers for raw milk cheese that may be contaminated with salmonella. Routine product sampling found the bacteria in lot number 139 of "Natural Raw Milk Cheese" made by Meadow Valley Farm after the cheese was distributed to farmers' markets and specialty food stores in parts of Indiana and Wisconsin.
* 2002-2003--Two children were hospitalized in Ohio for infection with Salmonella enterica serotype Typhimurium. These children and 60 other people in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee developed bloody diarrhea, cramps, fever, chills, and vomiting from S. Typhimurium tracked to consuming raw milk. The milk producer voluntarily relinquished its license for selling raw milk upon recommendation of the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
* 2000-2001--In North Carolina, 12 adults were infected with Listeria monocytogenes linked to homemade, Mexican-style fresh soft cheese produced from contaminated raw milk sold by a local dairy farm. Ten of the 12 victims were pregnant women, and infection with the bacterium resulted in five stillbirths, three premature deliveries, and two infected newborns.
* 1998--In Massachusetts, 66 people received injections to protect against potential exposure to rabies after drinking unpasteurized milk from a local dairy. A cow that died at the dairy was found to be infected with rabies. Transmission of the rabies virus through unpasteurized milk, although not the common route of infection, is theoretically possible, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
They say it tastes heavenly. but best not risk a trip to heaven for a sip.
On the other hand, researchers are working on genetic modification of cow's milk protein to fight bacteria, that could make raw milk safe. Something tells me that the food purists wouldn't care much for that either, though.
And here's a sentence you're only likely to read in the New York Times:
“We also bought crème fraîche from the milk club,” he said. “It was nearly as ethereal as our fromager’s in Aix-en-Provence.”
posted by Sydney on 8/08/2007 08:50:00 PM 2 comments
Sometimes I wonder how I managed to reach the ripe older age of 49. I grew up drinking raw milk, riding in the back of pickup trucks and other such escapades as riding my bike without a helmet. Seems like a lot of the things that were consider "typical" when I was growing up are now considered outright dangerous or at the very least suspect. And yes, all 5 of my brothers and sister are alive and well too as well as our parents.
By 7:24 AM, at
The appeal of raw milk might not be quite so great if all dairies stopped that blasted homogenization & allowed the cream to separate, like proper milk.