FOOD BORNE ILLNESS A BIGGER ISSUE THAN DRINKING RAW MILK
A report in the January 2015 edition of Emerging Infectious Disease in January details the numbers. The total of 81 incidences resulted in 979 illnesses and 73 hospitalizations with no deaths reported. Sounds bad…unless there is some context.
On May 10th, 2015, a New York Times article titled Action and Dysfunction in the US Food Safety Effort reported that most recent estimates of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tallied 48 million Americans tainted by food borne illness a year, sending nearly 128,000 of them to the hospital and leaving more than 3,000 dead. And the FDA and CDC are preoccupied with raw milk.
SLIGHTLY MORE OUTBREAKS, BUT LOWER RISK
I’m not suggesting we should give all raw milk a pass. It takes great diligence by conscientious dairies to establish the necessary checks and balances to safely deliver fresh raw milk to customers. The data deserve a closer look.
To recap, CDC data reports a total of 81 outbreaks associated with non-pasteurized milk reported from 26 states from 2007-2012. These outbreaks resulted in 979 illnesses and 73 hospitalizations. No deaths were reported.
In contrast, a CDC report covering 1993-2006 documents outbreaks associated with non-pasteurized milk noting 73 incidences involving nonpasteurized products which resulted in 1,571 cases, 202 hospitalizations, and 2 deaths. There is no way I can crunch the numbers to come up with a 400% increase.
In 2012 CDC reported that the sale of raw milk consumption of nonpasteurized dairy products was uncommon. Today sales increase as consumers look for natural sources of probiotic foods and prefer purchasing animal products that are sustainably produced. Producers like Mark McAfee of Organic Pastures continue to refine safety and testing procedures to maximize the good bugs and minimize the bad.
Cows producing milk to be sold as raw milk graze on grass and forage as opposed to corn, soy and a laundry list of stale bakery products and other food waste. Many of the dairies producing raw milk follow organic practices and refrain from prophylactic use of antibiotics, hormones and other growth promoters. Consumers clamor for the product, and demand often overwhelms supply.
Insight into gut health and the microbiome should give all of us pause. Emerging science suggests that the absence of microbial diversity, including viruses and other parasites, may be driving inflammation and the ever increasing incidence of auto-immune disease and other common life cycle disease like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Moises Velasquez-Manoff documents the data in his excellent book, An Epidemic of Absence.
Velasquez-Manoff asserts that modern human environments compromise health promoting bacteria, precisely what occurs during routine pasteurization of milk and milk products. Humans who live on farms suffer from far less inflammatory disease than uber-sanitary suburban dwellers.
It seems that the microbes that benefit us the most come from contact with healthy soils and live animals. Each of us needs to actively expose ourselves to the good bugs. What do you think about trying raw milk?