Dear Lorna K. Loveless,
I would like to comment on the recent article, “Raw Milk or Not” in the Jan/Feb issue of Back Home.
First a bit of rarely known history:When Americans were cut off from their whiskey supply in the War of 1812, cities began building distilleries that extracted starch and alcohol from grains, leaving an acid refuse known as distillery slop or swill. The cows were fed this swill which did nothing for the nourishment or health of the cow, but cause them to produce an abundant supply of milk, called swill milk. The air was polluted, pails were dirty, and the workers did not wash their hands. As a result, the cows were unhealthy, infant mortality rose and about half of all deaths were contributed to the slop milk, which was blamed for diarrhea, scarlet fever, diphtheria, and tuberculosis.
By the late 1880s people realized something had to be done with the swill milk and there were two theories about illness at that time. Claude Bernard’s milieu interieur theory stated that illness was caused by a weakened immune system; if the body was given proper nourishment it would be able to fight off any infection and heal itself. Louis Pasteur’s germ theory stated that infectious diseases were caused by germs and could only be cured with drugs. Obviously we know which one won out.
In 1930 the last swill milk distillery shut down but the debate between raw versus pasteurized milk continued. Pasteurization was good for big businesses because it increased shelf life and it was much easier and less expensive to pasteurize dirty milk than to clean up, certify, and monitor the dairies. After World War II the debate heated up and blatant lies were published against raw milk such as a 1945 article in the Coronet titled, “Raw Milk Can Kill You,” by Robert Harris, MD about a town called Crossroads, USA where one out of every four persons in the town suffered from brucellosis, or undulant fever, caused by raw milk. The town was nonexistent, Harris latter admitted.
Even today the CDC and the FDA are biased against raw milk. A 1983 campylobacter outbreak in Pennsylvania was blamed on raw milk yet the CDC admits in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report that the cultures taken from the raw milk did not contain any campylobacter.
In 2008 there was an E. coli breakout in four children and the raw milk dairy farm, Organic Pastures, was blamed. The California based dairy farm sold over 40 million servings of raw milk without a single illness. The dairy was shut down while over 2,000 tests were performed and not a single pathogen was found. The E. coli was attributed to Dole spinach.
The largest outbreak of salmonella occurred between June 1984 and April 1985 and sickened over 200,000 people and caused 18 deaths. The cause was pasteurized milk. Yet the CDC did not issue a specific Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for this outbreak although the incident is reported in the FDA Consumer and the Journal of the American Medical Association. More recently three people died and one woman miscarried due to a 2007 outbreak of listeria from pasteurized milk in Massachusetts. But these cases barely hit the news.
Between the years 1932 and 1942 Dr. Francis Marion Pottenger, Jr. conducted a feeding experiment to determine the effects of heat-processed food on cats. Over nine hundred cats were used in his study and were fed either cooked milk and cooked meat or raw milk and raw meat. The cats fed cooked milk and cooked meat showed physical deficiencies in each generation and by the third generation the cats were effectively sterile. The raw milk and raw meat cats, on the other hand, showed physical superiority throughout their lives, their births and the multiple generations that continued.
Prof. H. Douglas Goff, Ph.D. said emphatically “there is no research” yet I would say there is research and obvious proof about the safety of raw milk, assuming one looks for it. Prof. Goff also mentioned the pathogens in the soil and manure and that it is “virtually impossible to have milk that is pathogen free” (which is true on conventional dairy farms). Dr. Caterina Berge, DVM and PhD candidate at UC Davis is able to show that “when antibiotics are not ever used on the herd (as stipulated in the organic standards) and when cows are not stressed (grass-fed and kept healthy) they simply do not slough off pathogens in their manure”. But a conventional milk tank will have either salmonella or E. coli O157:H7 detected about 30 percent of the time (which explains why they need to pasteurize their milk to be able to sell it).
Prof. Goff also considers the raw milk argument an emotional issues and, to a degree, it is: when my government intrudes on my choice to consume healthy raw milk and threatens the safety and livelihood of small dairy farmers, it starts to feel a bit emotional. If Prof. Goff had done a little more research on the history of raw milk and pasteurized milk, he would have realized that, more than “emotions” and emotional people, it is a healthy food product that keeps a strong raw milk movement going. As Francis M. Pottenger, Jr., MD says, “though the destruction of [colloids, minerals salts, hormones, minerals and antibodies] in pasteurization may not produce death as hostile bacteria may, their deficiency in milk may impair the life-long health of a child.”
It is important for consumers to know the truth about milk; real milk is safe as long as the farm is not using antibiotics and when the cows are grass-fed and kept healthy.
The Liberation Diet by Kevin Brown, CPT, NC and Annette Presley, RD, LD, CPT
Pottenger’s Cats by Francis M. Pottenger, Jr., MD