Raw Milk In The News
From time to time, raw milk (and the people who love it or fear it) makes the news. Check back here occasionally to read the latest articles.
June 23, 2011
GOVERNMENT DATA PROVES RAW MILK SAFE
Raw Milk Risk Extremely Small Compared to Risk of Other Foods
WASHINGTON, DC: Data gleaned from U.S. government websites and government-sanctioned reports on foodborne illnesses show that the risk of contracting foodborne illness by consuming raw milk is much smaller than the risk of becoming ill from other foods, according to research by Dr. Ted Beals, MD, appearing in the Summer, 2011 issue of Wise Traditions, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation.
"At last we have access to the numbers we need to determine the risk of consuming raw milk on a per-person basis," says Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a non-profit nutrition education foundation that provides information on the health benefits of raw, whole milk from pastured cows.
The key figure that permits a calculation of raw milk illnesses on a per-person basis comes from a 2007 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) FoodNet survey, which found that 3.04 percent of the population consumes raw milk, or about 9.4 million people, based on the 2010 census. This number may in fact be larger in 2011 as raw milk is growing in popularity. For example, sales of raw milk increased 25 percent in California in 2010, while sales of pasteurized milk declined 3 percent.
In addition, Dr. Beals has compiled published reports of illness attributed to raw milk from 1999 to 2010. During the eleven-year period, illnesses attributed to raw milk averaged 42 per year.
"Using government figures for foodborne illness for the entire population, Dr. Beals has shown that you are about thirty-five thousand times more likely to get sick from other foods than you are from raw milk," says Fallon Morell. "And with good management practices in small grass-based dairies offering fresh unprocessed whole milk for direct human consumption, we may be able to reduce the risk even further."
"It is irresponsible for senior national government officials to oppose raw milk, claiming that it is inherently hazardous," says Dr. Beals. "There is no justification for opposing the sale of raw milk or warning against its inclusion in the diets of children and adults."
According to Pete Kennedy, president of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, "Where raw milk is concerned, the FDA has an agenda apart from protecting the public health. The agency wants to restrict and discourage the sale of unprocessed dairy products. This will have the effect of denying freedom of choice."
"Every time there is a possible connection between illness and raw milk, government officials issue dire press releases and call for bans on raw milk sales," says Fallon Morell. "However, these numbers fail to justify the government opposition and prove what we've known all along, that raw milk is a safe and healthy food."
April 29, 2010
MDAR To Shut Down Raw Dairy Clubs
Boston, Mass.- – The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources will hold a hearing on Monday, May 10 at 10 am at 100 Cambridge St, Conference Room A, 2nd Floor in Boston, Mass. to discuss a proposal that would make the non-commercial, second party purchase of raw milk products illegal.
In other words, those wishing to purchase raw dairy products would have to drive to the farm themselves. The closest farm selling milk from cows fed exclusively with organic grass is a two-hour drive from Boston, Mass.
Raw dairy proponents are urged to attend. Written comments will also be accepted up until May 10, and may be sent to Scott J. Soares, Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), 251 Causeway Street, Boston, MA 02114.
The raw milk in question meets the same standards and testing requirements that pasteurized, commercially available store milk is held to.- MDAR has been aware of such clubs operating for years. There has not been a public health issue.- Such co-operative efforts helps conserve resources – gas, time spent driving.- Such clubs support local farmers directly.
If allowed to pass, the proposition - would directly harm our local dairy farms- could result in consumers seeking alternative, non-licensed sources of raw milk, a possible public health issue. - may further reduce spending in the local economy, as such clubs often buy produce from other local, neighboring farms in addition to the milk products
The full text of the proposed language to be inserted is:
"No person shall sell, distribute, provide or offer for consumption to the public any raw milk elsewhere than on a dairy farm where that raw milk was produced provided that to such farm a Certificate of Raw Milk for Retail Sale has been issued by the Commissioner. For the purposes of these Regulations the term 'offer for consumption' shall include any sampling of milk by the public or offering of samples to the public."
The proposition is opposed by – among other local, national, and international groups – the Northeast organic Farming Association, Massachusetts Chapter. NOFA/Mass is a community including farmers, gardeners, landscapers and consumers working to educate members and the general public about the benefits of local organic systems based on complete cycles, natural materials, and minimal waste for the health of individual beings, communities and the living planet.
For more information, or to find out how you can get involved in the Massachusetts Raw Milk Network, a program of NOFA/Mass, please contact Winton Pitcoff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 20, 2010
Wisconsin Raw Milk Activist Wins Important Court Victory
The state of Wisconsin's motion to compel Max Kane, a raw milk activist, to reveal the identities of farmers and consumers involved in private transactions was denied yesterday by the Honorable Judge Michael Rosenborough. The judge had the option of ruling Max Kane in contempt of court for his silence, but instead allowed the case proceed to the appellate court.
Since December Kane has lived under a court order to provide information sought by the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection's (DATCP) attorneys. On March 18, with the aid of attorney Elizabeth Rich, Kane filed a motion for a stay of that order in the Vernon County Court House in Viroqua, Wisconsin. His request for relief pending appeal, was heard Monday.
The judge granted the motion.
On four occasions, in hearings and depositions, attorneys for the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection have tried to extract information from Max to aid them in targeting a number of small family dairy farms they suspect of selling raw milk.
Incidental sales of raw milk from the farm are legal in Wisconsin, however a new, strict interpretation of the law by DATCP amounts to a virtual ban on sales. Last year, the agency decided that an incidental sale is a one-time sale, meaning that if a dairy were to sell the milk to the same customer twice they would be breaking the law.
Today's victory will allow Max's case to be heard in an appellate court. He is currently working on his appellate brief with legal counsel.
Ultimately, Max hopes to obtain a Supreme Court verdict on the civil liberty of unregulated farm-to-consumer direct trade.
More and more, health minded consumers are seeking out traditional foods from farms that employ ancient wisdom, such as pasture raising of chickens, 100 percent grass feeding of livestock and composting and manure of vegetable garden beds. The Weston A. Price Foundation is among the non-profit organizations helping to educate consumers of the health benefits of foods raised by these methods.
"Organic standards, especially those certified by the government, are compromised to the point of meaninglessness," says Sally Fallon Morell President of the Foundation. "We don't believe modern standards are effective in producing the vital nutrition we expect from our food. And raw milk raised using these methods is a supremely healthy foods that should be available to those who want it."
The Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF), is a nutrition education non-profit, based in Washington, DC, with 400 local chapters, worldwide. WAPF advocates a return to organic farming, pasture-fed livestock and whole traditional foods, properly prepared, if modern man is to regain health and vitality. The Foundation also promotes the benefits of an economy based on small scale organic production and food processing that returns added value to the independent farmer, rather than to large-scale food processing conglomerates.
Media Contact: Kimberly Hartke, Publicist 703-860-2711, cell 703-675-5557 email@example.com
January 25, 2010
How Cows (Grass-Fed Only) Could Save the Planet
By Lisa Abend, Time Magazine
On a farm in coastal Maine, a barn is going up. Right now it's little more than a concrete slab and some wooden beams, but when it's finished, the barn will provide winter shelter for up to six cows and a few head of sheep. None of this would be remarkable if it weren't for the fact that the people building the barn are two of the most highly regarded organic-vegetable farmers in the country: Eliot Coleman wrote the bible of organic farming, The New Organic Grower, and Barbara Damrosch is the Washington Post's gardening columnist. At a time when a growing number of environmental activists are calling for an end to eating meat, this veggie-centric power couple is beginning to raise it. "Why?" asks Coleman, tromping through the mud on his way toward a greenhouse bursting with December turnips. "Because I care about the fate of the planet."
Ever since the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization released a 2006 report that attributed 18% of the world's man-made greenhouse-gas emissions to livestock — more, the report noted, than what's produced by transportation — livestock has taken an increasingly hard rap. At first, it was just vegetarian groups that used the U.N.'s findings as evidence for the superiority of an all-plant diet. But since then, a broader range of environmentalists has taken up the cause. At a recent European Parliament hearing titled "Global Warming and Food Policy: Less Meat = Less Heat," Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, argued that reducing meat consumption is a "simple, effective and short-term delivery measure in which everybody could contribute" to emissions reductions.
And of all the animals that humans eat, none are held more responsible for climate change than the ones that moo. Cows not only consume more energy-intensive feed than other livestock; they also produce more methane — a powerful greenhouse gas — than other animals do. "If your primary concern is to curb emissions, you shouldn't be eating beef," says Nathan Pelletier, an ecological economist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, N.S., noting that cows produce 13 to 30 lb. of carbon dioxide per pound of meat.
So how can Coleman and Damrosch believe that adding livestock to their farm will help the planet? Cattleman Ridge Shinn has the answer. On a wintry Saturday at his farm in Hardwick, Mass., he is out in his pastures encouraging a herd of plump Devon cows to move to a grassy new paddock. Over the course of a year, his 100 cattle will rotate across 175 acres four or five times. "Conventional cattle raising is like mining," he says. "It's unsustainable, because you're just taking without putting anything back. But when you rotate cattle on grass, you change the equation. You put back more than you take."
It works like this: grass is a perennial. Rotate cattle and other ruminants across pastures full of it, and the animals' grazing will cut the blades — which spurs new growth — while their trampling helps work manure and other decaying organic matter into the soil, turning it into rich humus. The plant's roots also help maintain soil health by retaining water and microbes. And healthy soil keeps carbon dioxide underground and out of the atmosphere.
Compare that with the estimated 99% of U.S. beef cattle that live out their last months on feedlots, where they are stuffed with corn and soybeans. In the past few decades, the growth of these concentrated animal-feeding operations has resulted in millions of acres of grassland being abandoned or converted — along with vast swaths of forest — into profitable cropland for livestock feed. "Much of the carbon footprint of beef comes from growing grain to feed the animals, which requires fossil-fuel-based fertilizers, pesticides, transportation," says Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma. "Grass-fed beef has a much lighter carbon footprint." Indeed, although grass-fed cattle may produce more methane than conventional ones (high-fiber plants are harder to digest than cereals, as anyone who has felt the gastric effects of eating broccoli or cabbage can attest), their net emissions are lower because they help the soil sequester carbon.
From Vermont, where veal and dairy farmer Abe Collins is developing software designed to help farmers foster carbon-rich topsoil quickly, to Denmark, where Thomas Harttung's Aarstiderne farm grazes 150 head of cattle, a vanguard of small farmers are trying to get the word out about how much more eco-friendly they are than factory farming. "If you suspend a cow in the air with buckets of grain, then it's a bad guy," Harttung explains. "But if you put it where it belongs — on grass — that cow becomes not just carbon-neutral but carbon-negative." Collins goes even further. "With proper management, pastoralists, ranchers and farmers could achieve a 2% increase in soil-carbon levels on existing agricultural, grazing and desert lands over the next two decades," he estimates. Some researchers hypothesize that just a 1% increase (over, admittedly, vast acreages) could be enough to capture the total equivalent of the world's greenhouse-gas emissions.
This math works out in part because farmers like Shinn don't use fertilizers or pesticides to maintain their pastures and need no energy to produce what their animals eat other than what they get free from the sun. Furthermore, pasturing frequently uses land that would otherwise be unproductive. "I'd like to see someone try to raise soybeans here," he says, gesturing toward the rocky, sloping fields around him.
By many standards, pastured beef is healthier. That's certainly the case for the animals involved; grass feeding obviates the antibiotics that feedlots are forced to administer in order to prevent the acidosis that occurs when cows are fed grain. But it also appears to be true for people who eat cows. Compared with conventional beef, grass-fed is lower in saturated fat and higher in omega-3s, the heart-healthy fatty acids found in salmon.
But not everyone is sold on its superiority. In addition to citing grass-fed meat's higher price tag — Shinn's ground beef ends up retailing for about $7 a pound, more than twice the price of conventional beef — feedlot producers say that only through their economies of scale can the industry produce enough meat to satisfy demand, especially for a growing population. These critics note that because grass is less caloric than grain, it takes two to three years to get a pastured cow to slaughter weight, whereas a feedlot animal requires only 14 months. "Not only does it take fewer animals on a feedlot to produce the same amount of meat," says Tamara Thies, chief environmental counsel for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (which contests the U.N.'s 18% figure), "but because they grow so quickly, they have less chance to produce greenhouse gases."
To Allan Savory, the economies-of-scale mentality ignores the role that grass-fed herbivores can play in fighting climate change. A former wildlife conservationist in Zimbabwe, Savory once blamed overgrazing for desertification. "I was prepared to shoot every bloody rancher in the country," he recalls. But through rotational grazing of large herds of ruminants, he found he could reverse land degradation, turning dead soil into thriving grassland.
Like him, Coleman now scoffs at the environmentalist vogue for vilifying meat eating. "The idea that giving up meat is the solution for the world's ills is ridiculous," he says at his Maine farm. "A vegetarian eating tofu made in a factory from soybeans grown in Brazil is responsible for a lot more CO2 than I am." A lifetime raising vegetables year-round has taught him to value the elegance of natural systems. Once he and Damrosch have brought in their livestock, they'll "be able to use the manure to feed the plants, and the plant waste to feed the animals," he says. "And even though we can't eat the grass, we'll be turning it into something we can."
March 5, 2008
State clamps down on raw milk industry
By Barbara Feder Ostrov, San Jose Mercury News
When California's raw milk dairies learned about new legislation tightening safety standards for their unpasteurized milk and cream, they - alongside passionate raw milk devotees - bitterly lobbied against mandates they believed would destroy their business. Now their fears are starting to be realized.
State agriculture officials have temporarily banned the sale of raw cream from the Organic Pastures dairy in Fresno, citing bacteria levels of up to 150 times the legal limit. They also have warned a Watsonville dairy, Claravale Farm, that it faces a similar ban if its raw skim milk or raw cream fails another inspection.The ban marks the state's first enforcement of the controversial raw milk law that took effect Jan. 1. And it could reignite last year's fierce political and legal battles over its requirement that raw milk meet the same safety standards as pasteurized milk.
Mark McAfee, Organic Pastures' founder and owner, along with Claravale Farm, is suing to overturn the law. He says the action will help propel his lawsuit through the courts now that he is facing economic losses. "I was actually looking forward to this day," McAfee said. "We're losing $10,000 a week on cream we can't sell."
Organic Pastures' other products, including skim and whole raw milk, aren't included in the sales ban and may still be sold at Whole Foods and other stores, said Steve Lyle, a spokesman for the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Raw cream already in stores also is not affected by the regulatory action and may remain on the shelves.
The sales ban on Organic Pastures' raw cream will last until two new cream samples tested within the same week meet state standards. McAfee said those tests were conducted on Sunday and Monday and that he's expecting results soon.The cream that could not be sold is being made into butter to be sold at stores like Whole Foods, which carries Organic Pastures products, McAfee said.
Although California boasts the nation's largest raw milk production and Organic Pastures is believed to be the nation's largest raw milk dairy, actual sales are small compared with the state's massive dairy industry.
Under the new state law, to avoid a sales ban raw milk dairies must pass three of every five inspections of samples of their milk products, including whole milk, skim milk, cream and colostrum, a type of milk produced by cows for newborn calves.Before Jan. 1, raw milk was tested for dangerous bacteria such as salmonella, but dairies were not required to provide counts of other classes of bacteria.
Unlike pasteurized milk, raw milk is not heat-treated to kill bacteria that can cause disease, although it's routinely tested for certain disease-causing bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella.
Raw milk devotees consider it a healthy elixir, touting its ability to ease allergies, lactose intolerance and digestive disorders among other health problems. Public health experts, however, argue that raw milk is far more likely than the pasteurized kind to make people sick.
From 1998 to 2005, raw milk and cheese were implicated in 39 different disease outbreaks nationwide that sickened 831 adults and children, hospitalized 66 and killed one, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Mark Barbieri, manager of the Whole Foods supermarket in Campbell, said the temporary ban on Organic Pastures cream would not scare him away from his raw milk habit. He said he simply loves the taste and has confidence that the state agriculture department is diligently inspecting raw milk dairies. "It's like drinking ice cream," said Barbieri, who favors Claravale Farm milk. "It's so sweet."
California's new raw milk safety standards allows no more than 10 coliform bacteria per milliliter, the same requirement for pasteurized milk. Coliform bacteria includes those that aid digestion as well as those that cause disease. Their presence is not necessarily a predictor of food-borne illness, but high levels can indicate a sanitation problem, said dairy scientist John Bruhn, professor emeritus at the University of California-Davis' Department of Food Science and Technology.
In one raw cream sample taken from Organic Pastures on Feb. 6, the overall bacteria count was 250,000 per gram, with coliform bacteria numbering 1,500 per gram - which Bruhn suggested could indicate a sanitation problem at the dairy. Milk destined for pasteurization, he said, should have less than 50,000 total bacteria per milliliter or gram.
Organic Pastures and Claravale Farm argued that the standard is impossible to meet. But Lyle, the agriculture department spokesman, said previous tests at both dairies last year suggested that the standard is attainable. "The West is filled with states that have similar coliform standards, including Washington, which has a vibrant raw milk industry," Lyle said. "We think it's a reasonable limit."
Organic Pastures in particular has been beset by potentially harmful bacteria in its raw milk in recent years. In 2006, five children were infected with E. coli bacteria linked to Organic Pastures' raw milk. Some suffered bloody diarrhea, others kidney failure. The dairy is now facing lawsuits from two families affected by the outbreak.The dairy's raw cream was recalled in September 2007 after listeria was found in a sample, although no illnesses were reported. Then, in November and December, state public health officials investigated reports of a campylobacter bacterial outbreak that sickened five people who drank Organic Pastures raw milk.
"The link appears suspicious, but it's just not something we can prove," said state epidemiologist Dr. Gil Chavez. "Our message still is that consuming raw milk carries a risk."
Bruhn wonders whether repeated reports of sales bans or recalls over potentially harmful raw milk may cause consumers to rethink their raw milk habits. If the dairies are "having more trouble than success, then raw milk drinkers might develop doubts," Bruhn said. "Whether that will lead them to change their purchasing habits, I don't know. I know a lot of them are very dedicated to the product regardless of what the state does or says."
Organic Pastures' McAfee couldn't agree more. "I invite (the agriculture department) to keep on sticking me in the ribs because it keeps increasing our sales," he said. "It stirs up the grass roots."
January 19, 2008
Lawmakers backtrack, push repeal of raw milk limits in California
Dairies hit by a new law two weeks ago say the bacteria regulations will force them to shut, and a state agency draws heat.
By Dennis Pollock, Fresno Bee
Just two weeks after new restrictions on raw milk took effect, the Assembly Agriculture Committee voted unanimously this week to repeal them after the state's two raw milk producers said they would go out of business if they had to comply.
Assemblywoman Nicole Parra, the Hanford Democrat who supported the new limits last year and is now leading the charge to repeal them, said she was deceived by agriculture officials in the Schwarzenegger administration who said the limits had broad support.
As the committee met Wednesday, hundreds of raw milk backers protested the tighter restrictions on bacteria counts, which took effect Jan. 1.
Parra's measure, Assembly Bill 1604, would stop enforcement of limits for raw milk of 10 coliform bacteria or less per milliliter until June 30. Effective July 1, it would fix the limit at 50 coliform bacteria or fewer per milliliter.
Co-authors are Assembly Republican leader Mike Villines of Clovis and Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, D-Los Angeles.
The 90-minute hearing opened with sharp criticism of the state Department of Food and Agriculture, none of whose representatives appeared before the committee. Parra, the committee's chairwoman, said she was misled by department staff who "purposely omitted mention of opposition to the bill."
She also faulted the agency for not contacting the two producers, Organic Pastures Dairy Co. in Fresno County and Claravale Farms Inc. in San Benito County. And she shouldered some of the blame for "not grilling my ag consultant and (the department) more thoroughly."
Nearly 50 people voiced support for Parra's bill, including Walter Robb, president of Whole Foods Market, a chain based in Austin, Texas. "Raw milk is a small part of our dairy case, but a significant choice," Robb said.
Opponents of Parra's bill included Teresa Kline of the California Medical Association and Dr. Michael Payne of the University of California Western Institute of Food Safety and Security, both of whom cited risks posed by raw milk consumption.
Department representatives have contended that coliform levels serve as an indicator of dairy sanitation.
Department spokesman Steve Lyle said the bill passed last year followed the normal legislative process: "It was voted on six times in the Legislature – three in the Assembly, three in the Senate. And was heard twice in committee as part of that. This was a process that played out over months."
The two raw milk producers have sued the state to stop enforcement of the law.
Some of raw milk's appeal is that it contains "essential probiotic good bacteria," said Mark McAfee, founder and an owner of Organic Pastures.
McAfee and Ron Garthwaite, who shares ownership of Claravale Farms with his wife, Collette Cassidy, said that complying with the new limit of 10 coliform bacteria per milliliter has been disrupting production.
The lawsuit, filed in San Benito County, contends that "the only coliforms that cause illness when consumed in raw milk are specific, identifiable strains of E. coli, salmonella and campylobacter."
The lawsuit disputes an agriculture department claim that the new limits were required to comply with federal guidelines on interstate milk shipment. It points out that federal law prohibits interstate shipment of raw milk for human consumption.
November 21, 2007
Read the latest on Canadian dairy farmer Michael Schmidt and his efforts to legalize raw milk up north:
Canadian raw milk legalization effort
October 22, 2007
To bring yourself up to date on the latest government crackdowns on raw milk sales, please visit David Gumpert's excellent blog for a fair and balanced assessment of the situation:
August 7, 2006
Untreated milk cuts children's allergies
By PAT HAGAN, Daily Mail
Drinking ‘raw’ milk could reduce children’s risk of suffering allergy-related conditions such as eczema and hayfever, new research suggests.
British academics investigating why farmers’ families suffer fewer allergies than others found that even occasional consumption of raw — unpasteurised — milk had a powerful effect. Just a couple of glasses a week reduced a child’s chances of developing eczema by almost 40 per cent and hayfever by 10 per cent. Blood tests revealed that drinking raw milk more than halves levels of histamine, a chemical pumped out by cells in response to an allergen.
It is thought the milk contains bacteria that help to prime the immune system. But the findings, published in the Journal Of Allergy, Asthma And Immunology, are controversial because unpasteurised milk is also a source of potentially fatal food-poisoning bugs.
Raw milk was banned from sale in Scotland 20 years ago, and can be sold by farmers in England and Wales only with labels clearly warning of the risks. There has been a huge increase in the number of children suffering allergies in the past 30 years. One in three is now affected by eczema, hayfever or asthma — double the level 20 years ago.
And in the past ten years, the number of people needing emergency hospital treatment for severe allergic reactions has trebled to about 6,000 a year. One of the biggest mysteries is why children raised on farms seem to suffer less than those in towns and cities, even though they are exposed to many more allergens.
When researchers at the University of London analysed the diet and health of 4,700 primary school children in Shropshire, they found that those who lived on farms had significantly fewer symptoms of asthma, hayfever and eczema.
The study looked at whether children were breast-fed and how often they were in contact with animals or played in barns. The greatest benefits were found to come from drinking raw milk.
Blood samples showed raw milk drinkers had 60 per cent lower levels of an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE). When the immune system comes into contact with an allergen, it overreacts by pumping out huge quantities of IgE. The antibody causes cells to release histamine into the bloodstream and it is this release that triggers allergy symptoms.
‘It might be that even relatively infrequent exposure to unpasteurised milk is sufficient to have a protective effect,’ the researchers concluded. But some experts are warning parents that any benefits are still far outweighed by the chances of their child becoming infected with organisms such as E. coli and campylobacter, two of the main food-poisoning bugs.
‘Even if there are benefits in terms of allergies, the risks from drinking unpasteurised milk are just too great,’ says Professor Hugh Pennington, a retired microbiologist who has investigated some of Britain’s worst food poisoning outbreaks. ‘Pasteurisation is there as a safety net to kill off any bugs.’
Pasteurised milk sold in supermarkets has been heated to 71C for 15 seconds. This destroys bad bacteria and extends the shelf life. But some campaigners believe it also kills off good bacteria which help protect the gut against disease, and significantly reduces the milk’s vitamin content.
Unpasteurised cow’s or goat’s milk has not been heat-treated, and still contains bacteria from the animal. Sold as ‘green top’ bottled milk, it accounts for about one per cent of milk sales in England and Wales and is available only direct from farms, or through farmers’ markets. It is estimated that about 130 dairy farms sell raw milk. The Chartered Institute Of Environmental Health is pushing for a ban on sales of unpasteurised milk in England.
But John Barron, from Beaconhill Farm in Herefordshire, says demand is growing for raw milk produced by his 40-strong herd of Jersey cows. He sells about 50 litres a week, at £1 a litre, from his farm and through markets. ‘I’ve got lots of customers who give it to their children and there has never been a single case of food poisoning,’ he says.
‘I get inquiries from as far as Manchester, Birmingham and Yorkshire from people wanting to know where they can get hold of raw milk. I even get calls from cancer victims because they believe it will help them. Demand is definitely growing.’
July 31, 2006
Local farmers confused by state orders
By Diana DeCola, Marietta Times
Two local farmers have been forced by the Ohio Department of Agriculture to stop selling raw milk as pet food after they were authorized by the agency to sell it for more than four years.
Donna Betts and Linda Fagan, who own farms in the Stanleyville area, said they received registration and approval in 2001 through the Feed and Seed Division of the state department to sell raw milk to customers as pet food.
“When I checked with ODA, they told me that yes, it could be sold as pet food as long as it was clearly labeled ‘not for human consumption,’” Fagan said.
Fagan said they had regular inspections by the department over the years and there was never a problem. But in February, they received a letter from the department that stated they had to stop selling the milk.
“They issued a ‘stop sale’ order and their reason was that is was not an approved AAFCO ingredient,” Fagan said.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials is a group that determines what food items can be approved as feed for animals.
“We’re unsure on the position of AAFCO because there is raw milk sold as pet food in other states,” Fagan said. “They have not made any statement.”
Fagan said then in April, the two farmers received another letter from the state department stating their registration to sell was going to be revoked for incorrect labeling.
According to Betts and Fagan, they followed every rule given to them in 2001 by the state department for proper labeling. They said they sent the label in to be approved, which it was.
In May, the two women filed for a hearing to find out what they were doing wrong and why they could no longer sell their product. The hearing was scheduled for July 12 but on July 7, the state department withdrew from the hearing.
“But we’re still under a ‘stop sale’ order,” Fagan said. “There’s been a certain amount of financial loss.”
LeAnne Mizer, spokeswoman for the state department, said that the two women were initially issued the registration to sell the milk in 2001, but the feed control officials said the milk was not approved.
“Ohio adopts their rules, so there’s a little bit of controversy there,” Mizer said.
Mizer said the hearing was canceled by the state department because upon re-inspection after the ‘stop sale’ order, the two women were found in compliance.
“There was no evidence that they were selling, so there was no need to pursue it,” Mizer said.
Mizer said although the registration was issued, it never should have been and it was only upon a re-organization of the division that the paperwork came to someone’s attention.
Gary Cox, the attorney represenating Fagan and Betts, disagrees with the state department’s stance.
“There is nothing in the law that prohibits it and when I asked ODA to show me where it says that raw milk is prohibited, they’ve not been able to do so,” Cox said.
Cox said feed control officials have not said it is not approved, either. Cox thinks the issue is a matter of politics.
“What I think is going on is the dairy division is telling the feed and seed division, ‘hey, guys, we can’t sell raw milk so you can’t either,’” Cox said.
Ohio is one of 25 states that has a ban on the sale of raw milk for human consumption. However, legislation is being introduced in the state to make it legal to sell the milk from the farm. It is supported by a growing number of citizens who make the claim that raw — or unpasteurized — milk is actually good for health, according to an article in the Mount Vernon News in cental Ohio.
Those who support raw milk say that pasteurization actually breaks down important and useful enzymes and good bacteria the body needs. They say it also diminishes vitamins such as C, B12 and B6.
The argument against pasteurization makes the claim that the process is connected to allergies, increased tooth decay, colic in infants, growth problems in children, and osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease and cancer.
Fagan and Betts said they simply want to know the process to appeal the situation and that they only want to sell their milk as pet food. Betts said there is a big difference between the law and how the agencies choose to interpret and implement it.
“All of this is very subjective,” Betts said. “Then we had the rug pulled out from under us without any recourse or any due process of the law.”
Betts and Fagan are not the only farmers affected. In a recent article by The Associated Press, an Amish Ohio farmer’s operation was also shut down for handing out raw milk.
Arlie Stutzman, of Mount Hope, was busted by an undercover agent from the state department when he was giving away his milk and taking donations. The judge ruled against Stutzman, who also has Cox as an attorney. Initially, Stutzman lost his dairy license, but it was reinstated in April.
Cox has not given up on Fagan and Betts’ case, though. Betts said they are going to try and get an explanation of the rules and the decision of the state department, even if they have to try other routes.
“Someone else chooses a different interpretation (of the law) and when we ask for a clarification, we don’t get any,” Betts said.
July 12. 2006
Judge Rules Against Farmer in Raw Milk Case
A judge has ruled that a state dairy law prohibiting the sale of raw milk does not violate an Amish dairy farmer's religious beliefs and has ordered him not to sell unlabeled milk from his farm.
Arlie Stutzman, who owns a herd of 27 cows near Mount Hope, appeared in court June 30 to protest a law that he says violates his religious beliefs because it prohibits him from sharing milk he produces with others.
Holmes County Common Pleas Judge Thomas D. White wrote that Stutzman may give his unpasteurized milk away to people in need, but may not accept donations for it.
"Calling the compensation for milk a 'donation' is clearly a subterfuge to skirt the requirements of the law," White wrote in his decision issued Friday.
Stutzman lost his dairy license after an undercover agent from the Ohio Department of Agriculture gave him $2 for a gallon of milk last September. He was cited for selling milk in an unlabeled container. He got a new license in April.
Sales of raw milk are illegal in Ohio and 24 other states.
"We're pleased with the decision and it makes a lot of sense," said Melanie Wilt, spokeswoman for the agriculture department. "The judge understands Ohio's dairy laws are there to protect consumers."
Organizations such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration say raw milk contains health risks because it has not been heated to kill bacteria, such as E. coli.
Groups such as the Weston A. Price Foundation, which advocate restoring nutrient-dense foods to people's diets, advocate the consumption of raw milk, saying pasteurization diminishes vitamin content and kills beneficial bacteria.
A phone message left for Stutzman was not immediately returned Wednesday. His attorney, Gary Cox, said he didn't know whether they would appeal the ruling.
"We disagree with it, but obviously Arlie has to comply with it," Cox said.
Stutzman's Amish faith places an emphasis on the community. To preserve their lifestyle, the Amish avoid the use of electricity and automobile ownership. They typically don't get involved in politics.
White wrote that state dairy law does not violate Stutzman's First Amendment rights because he "produced no evidence that his religion compels him to make money from feeding the hungry." He also rejected Stutzman's argument that he had been entrapped.
White's ruling that Stutzman may give away his milk seems to conflict with state law, which prohibits the distribution of raw milk, regardless of whether it's sold.
Cox said he would ask the judge for a clarification.
July 07, 2006
Battle over raw milk begins in Ohio
By George Breithaupt, Mount Vernon News Staff Writer
MOUNT VERNON — Louis Pasteur’s work as a scientist resulted in many revolutionary medical discoveries, not the least of which was the technique of pasteurization. Pasteur discovered the role of germs and microorganisms play in many organic processes. His work led to a technique that, when applied to such food products as milk, liquid egg mixtures, beer, wine and apple cider, prolonged the shelf life of those products by killing harmful microorganisms that cause spoilage. Now a controversy is brewing over the selling of raw milk in Ohio. The sale of raw (unpasteurized) milk to the final consumer is illegal in Ohio. Only pasteurized milk may be sold to the final consumer under Section 9 of the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance.
There is a small but growing segment of the population in the state and around the country, concerned with consuming natural and organic foods. These people want the right to buy raw milk, claiming it is more healthful than the pasteurized product. They claim pasteurizing destroys beneficial enzymes and bacteria, destroys or diminishes vitamin content, especially vitamins C, B12 and B6, and promotes pathogens. The case against pasteurized milk includes charges that the treated milk is associated with allergies, increased tooth decay, colic in infants, growth problems in children, osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease and cancer.
Government health agencies, the Ohio Department of Agriculture, and most mainstream health and dairy organizations strongly favor pasteurizing milk because they feel the benefits of killing extremely harmful bacteria far outweighs any actual or perceived health advantages of the raw product.
A fact sheet from the Ohio State University Extension by Valente B. Alvarez and Francisco Parada-Rabell titled Health Benefits, Risks, and Regulations of Raw and Pasteurized Milk states some of the pros and cons of the controversy.
“Milk from healthy cows contains relatively few bacteria (102–103/ml), and the health risk from drinking raw milk would be minimal. However, milk is a natural food that has no protection from external contamination and can be contaminated easily when it is separated from the cow. Raw milk normally has a varied microflora arising from several sources, such as the exterior surfaces of the animal and the surfaces of milk-handling equipment such as milking machines, pipeline and containers (Burton, 1986). Therefore, milk is susceptible to contamination by many pathogenic microorganisms, which result in infection and threat to consumers’ health. Additionally, there is the potential that disease of cows such as tuberculosis, brucellosis, typhoid and listeriosis can be transmitted (Spreer, 1998),” according to the report.
The report also links raw milk to campylobacteriosis, salmonellosis, tuberculosis, brucellosis, hemorrhagic colitis, Brainerd diarrhea, Q fever, listeriosis, yersiniosis and toxoplasmosis. The report concludes, “Scientific research has shown that the detrimental effects of pasteurization on the nutritional and physiological values of milk are negligible considering the safety benefits in regards to consumers’ health.”
A recent Associated Press story detailed what was called a sting operation by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. An Amish farmer was busted for selling raw milk in an unmarked container to an undercover agent from the ODA. The farmer, Arlie Stutzman, has vowed to fight the charges and contest the law, saying it violates his religious beliefs. The ODA’s sting has engendered a lot of hard feeling among proponents of raw milk, many of whom consider it entrapment. LeeAnne Mizer of the ODA took some time to clarify the position of the ODA in a case like this.
“Essentially, we are charged with enforcing the laws the legislature makes,” she explained. “The dairy laws are important food safety laws to keep people from eating a potentially dangerous product. So we provide regulatory protection for consumers. If we didn’t do that we wouldn’t be doing our job. You can’t just give milk away to someone other than yourself. It’s a violation of the law.”
Mizer added that the ODA holds all the dairy farmers in the state to the same standard and does not want to keep any of them from making a living.
“We want to see them successful and prosper,” she added. “But it’s like getting a driver’s license. You still have to obey the traffic laws. It’s the same with a dairy. You have a dairy license, but you still have to follow the dairy laws.”
Sales of raw milk are illegal not only in Ohio, but 24 other states. However, herd share agreements take advantage of a loophole because the group is buying the cows, not the milk.
Proponents of the legalization of selling raw milk, at least under certain circumstances, feel they have a lot of good reasons on their side. Martha McDonald is one of those people. She and her husband, James, have a modest sized dairy herd and both sell raw milk to processors and consume it at home.
“I’ve consumed raw milk all my life and we consume it here at home,” she said. “I would definitely like to see it legalized.”
McDonald has done a lot of research on the subject and that, along with her own personal experience, has convinced her of the benefits of raw milk.
“Nutritionally, pasteurization kills all the good stuff,” she added. “It kills the enzymes and we need the enzymes for the digestion of lactose and the absorption of calcium. Basically, pasteurization has caused lactose intolerance and osteoporosis.”
McDonald also feels sanitation at the source, not pasteurization, is the key to making raw milk safe to consume. She feels there is nothing inherent in raw milk that makes it unsafe to consume, but that it is unsafe and unsanitary handling that introduces unsafe bacteria into the product.
“Sanitation is the key. There were problems years ago, say the 1930s, with a lot of diseases in milk,” McDonald said. “But pasteurization was not the answer. Sanitation and cleaning things up would have been far better. As far as tuberculosis is concerned, they have found out the tuberculosis bacteria in cattle is different from the human form. It didn’t come directly from the cow but from the people who were doing the milking, which was hand milking back then. They were sick with tuberculosis and coughing while they were milking the cow. So it spread from human to human.”
McDonald feels that the sale of raw milk should be legalized on a limited basis. She thinks the ideal situation would be to let farmers sell directly from the farm.
“That way people can see if the farm is clean and if it isn’t they can go on to the next farm,” she said.
June 28, 2006
Amish man defends raw milk sale
Undercover agent in Ohio 'busts' the unlawful business
By JOE MILICIA
MOUNT HOPE, OHIO - Arlie Stutzman was busted in a rare sting when an undercover agent bought raw milk from the Amish dairy farmer in an unlabeled container.
Now, Stutzman is fighting the law that forbids the sale of raw milk, saying he thinks it violates his religious beliefs because it prohibits him from sharing the milk he produces with others.
"While I can and I have food, I'll share it," said Stutzman, who is due in Holmes County Common Pleas Court on Friday to tell a judge his views. Last September, a man came to Stutzman's farmhouse, in a pastoral region in northeast Ohio that has the world's largest Amish settlement. The man asked for milk.
Stutzman was leery but agreed to fill up the man's container from a 250-gallon stainless steel tank in the milkhouse.
After the creamy white, unpasteurized milk flowed into the container, the man, an undercover agent from the Ohio Department of Agriculture, gave Stutzman $2 and left.
The department revoked Stutzman's license in February. In April, he got a new license, which allows him to sell to cheese houses and dairies, but received a warning not to sell raw milk to consumers again.
"You can't just give milk away to someone other than yourself. It's a violation of the law," said LeeAnne Mizer, spokeswoman for the department.
Stutzman's Amish faith places an emphasis on the community. To preserve their life- style, the Amish avoid the use of electricity and automobile ownership, which would allow the outside world to enter unabated into their culture.
The Amish typically do not get involved in politics, unless laws impede their ability to make a living or follow their religious beliefs. State officials said they sent the agent to Stutzman's farm because they received a tip from an anonymous neighbor about raw milk sales.
Stutzman, however, said he thinks he was targeted because his cows are partly owned by a group of 150 families in what is known as a herd-share agreement. Members pay him a fee for the cows and are entitled to a portion of the milk.
Sales of raw milk are illegal in Ohio and 24 other states. But herd-share agreements take advantage of a loophole because the group is buying the cows, not the milk.
June 26, 2006
Pros, cons of raw milk
Raw milk sales are banned in 25 states, including Ohio, where state Rep. Arlene Setzer, R-Vandalia, is working on legislation that would allow consumers to buy it directly from dairy farms. Here are what proponents and opponents say about raw milk:
FOR: Advocates say raw, unpasteurized milk is vitamin-rich, helping to protect against disease and stimulate the immune system. They say pasteurization destroys enzymes, vitamins C, B12 and B6, kills beneficial bacteria and promotes pathogens. They also say pasteurization was instituted in the 1920s to prevent diseases caused by dirty production methods and is now unnecessary due to improved standards and inspections.
AGAINST: Opponents say raw milk poses a health risk because it may contain bacteria, including E. Coli and salmonella, that can cause life-threatening illnesses. They say pasteurization is the only reliable way to reduce the level of pathogens in milk. They also say the health benefits proclaimed by proponents are unsubstantiated by scientific testing and that there is no nutritional difference between pasteurized and unpasteurized milk.
Sources: Ohio Department of Agriculture, Weston A. Price Foundation, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
May 31, 2006
Raw milk debate stirs up controversy
Ohio Farm Bureau Federation
COLUMBUS -- The debate over legalizing the sale of raw milk is heating up in the state legislature.
There are several reasons why supporters claim the sale of raw milk should be legalized. Some say raw milk can be safe and even healthier than pasteurized milk and that it provides a niche market for farmers. They say the current raw milk ban unnecessarily restricts consumer choice.
Ohio Farm Bureau Federation supports the legalization of raw milk, although Rocky Black, the organization's director of legislative affairs, acknowledged it is a controversial issue.
Black said the testimony presented to the House Agriculture Committee supporting raw milk sales was very well organized and lawmakers were left with the feeling that "this isn't the huge risk we thought it was."
"There's definitely a strong feeling in the House that they want to take a hard look at this bill," he said.
But the legislation has numerous opponents including the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), which testified against the bill, saying pasteurization is needed to destroy harmful organisms.
ODA Director Fred Dailey said he disagreed with raw milk advocates, but described them as "good, honest, hardworking people."
"If people think raw milk makes them feel better, I'm not here to argue," he told legislators. "But the fact remains that people are going to get sick, and the public will want to hold someone responsible."
The Weston A. Price Foundation, a national organization that advocates a diet of nutrient-dense, whole foods, supports the bill.
"There's a safe way to produce milk and produce raw milk," said Christina Trecaso, who leads the foundation's Ohio chapter, noting 28 states allow some type of raw milk sales.
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