Milk: in western society it’s one of the most basic foods. It usually comes from cows, but sometimes goats. It also has a history of not always being safe to drink. That’s because milk happens to be a good growth medium for bacteria. The bacteria can get into the milk any number of ways. It may simply be that while a cow’s utters are cleaned before milking, they are certainly not sterilized.
Thankfully, we have pasteurization. Just a quick heat treatment and the milk is safe, with pathogenic bacteria reduced to levels that won’t cause illness. The milk keeps longer this way too.
Considering this is a very basic safety precaution and one of the things that is the foundation of modern food safety, pasteurization has been a standard requirement for food safety regulations. But many have fought to have their milk raw, just as it came from the utter (except having some extra time to let what is in it grow). In some US states they have won their battles and now raw milk can be purchased in a number of states, although usually only through local suppliers.
The claims are similar to anti-vaccine and organic food claims. It’s said that raw milk is healthier, that it cures various conditions or that pasteurization is causing lactose intolerance or some other condition.
Now that people have the right to drink raw milk, some are, predictably, getting very sick.
Raw milk sickens 45 in Utah
Raw milk from Utah has sickened 45 people, according to the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.
The cases of campylobacteriosis have been linked to raw milk or cream purchased at Ropelato Dairy in Weber County, the department said in a statement Tuesday. Most of the infections occurred in people from Utah counties, though two were out-of-state residents from California and Idaho.
Inspectors suspended the dairy’s license to sell raw milk on August 4, after samples taken at the farm tested positive for campylobacter bacteria.
“What we’ve discovered is that an employee had not been thoroughly cleaning the udders of the cows,” Larry Lewis with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food told CNN affiliate KSL. “That is introducing contamination, manure and feces that are in that area into the milk, which is a major problem.”
Campylobacteriosis is a common bacterial infection that causes diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Experts estimate it affects over 1.3 million Americans every year, with more cases happening during the summer months.
The illness typically lasts around a week, though some people with the bacteria don’t experience any symptoms at all. Most patients recover without treatment. People with weakened immune systems, such as infants or the elderly, are most at risk for a serious infection.
26 people test positive in tuberculosis investigation
An ongoing Las Vegas Valley tuberculosis probe shows the woman whose death launched the investigation may have contracted the disease from consuming unpasteurized milk products.
The 25-year-old woman died in July in a Southern California hospital after giving birth in Las Vegas to twins, including one who also died of TB. Local health officials say at least 26 people with whom the mother came in contact have tested positive for the disease.
Interviews with the woman’s family led investigators to believe bacteria in cheese or milk from Central or South America caused the infection, according to the Southern Nevada Health District’s chief health officer.
“We didn’t have a sample to test the product from the patient or the family,” Dr. Joseph Iser said Tuesday. Health officials aren’t sure whether the woman ate the dairy products locally or elsewhere.
The strain that killed her originates in cattle and comes from the bacteria mycobacterium bovis, Iser said. The federally funded National Center for Biotechnology Information says human infections from mycobacterium bovis are rare although difficult to track.
“The Food and Drug Administration does not allow the interstate transport of unpasteurized milk products for this and other reasons for health and safety,” Iser said.
Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoed a bill earlier this year that would have legalized raw milk distribution in Nevada. Raw milk products are legal in other states.
Of the 26 people carrying TB after the Health District began testing, only two showed symptoms, which means they are contagious. They were isolated, or stayed at home, and health officials ensured they took medication to combat tuberculosis, Iser said.
It seems that this is often the result of the “back to nature” thinking. It’s assumed that raw milk is what our bodies are meant to consume and that disease is the result of humans artificially tampering with something. Of course, if you really want to do things as “Nature intended” we would not have adult humans drinking milk, and certainly not coming from cows.
This entry was posted on Saturday, September 6th, 2014 at 3:08 pm and is filed under Agriculture, Bad Science, Culture, Quackery. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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