Farm family put under surveillance for selling raw milk

Rogier van Bakel reports that a Missouri farm family "was put under surveillance, then prosecuted, for selling raw milk from its own cow, Misty."

From Naturalnews.com:

...the bovine mother's milk, unpasteurized, unprocessed, non-homogenized and wholly pure, natural and innocent. The stuff America was raised on. The stuff your parents fed you when you were a kid, if your family was lucky enough to have a cow. In Missouri today, selling such a natural product is now apparently a criminal act. What's next? A ban on farm-fresh eggs because the Dept. of Health doesn't control their quality?
Farm family put under surveillance for selling raw milk

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  1. Milk is pasteurized for a reason. Just because that milk is fresh doesn’t mean it’s automatically safe. If the farmers wants to take on that risk for themselves, that’s their business. Selling it to others implies a responsibility for the health of their customers.

    ps, the milk my parents gave me as a child was pasteurized.

    1. Shouldn’t people take some responsibility for their own health? By this I mean, if the person selling the raw milk makes them aware of the inherent risk associated with raw milk and the buyer willingly chooses to purchase it hasn’t the buyer assumed the risk? Of course seller would have to not be negligent with regards to cleanliness of equipment and so forth in order to not be liable. Why should the government prohibit people from willingly taking on a risk? Under that criteria, skydiving should be made illegal.

      1. “Shouldn’t people take some responsibility for their own health? By this I mean, if the person selling the raw milk makes them aware of the inherent risk associated with raw milk and the buyer willingly chooses to purchase it hasn’t the buyer assumed the risk? Of course seller would have to not be negligent with regards to cleanliness of equipment and so forth in order to not be liable. Why should the government prohibit people from willingly taking on a risk? Under that criteria, skydiving should be made illegal.”

        No, see, you’re part of a society, and you have a social contract that you signed up for by existing. And we can’t trust you to make your own decisions, but we desperately need you to be alive, and more importantly, paying taxes. Or receiving social benefits – it doesn’t really matter as long as the all-wise all-powerful government has control of your money, which, like your health, we don’t really trust you to manage by yourself. And that’s ok, math and science are hard, and so we do our best to make those things easy for you. We conveniently take taxes out of your check before you get any of it – we wouldn’t want you to ‘forget’ to pay, now would we? We also got rid of a lot of saturated fats lately, on your behalf, because we can’t expect you to know anything about biology and chemistry, and without that, you might hurt yourself, or even die! That’s why our experts step in and make sure that you stay alive by making sure you aren’t putting yourself at risk – we’d be misanthropes if we didn’t, obviously. It’s the compassionate thing to do. Now, we are going to have to take some people who don’t follow the rules and we’re going to have to take their money, and put em in a little cage for a while. Oh don’t worry, there’s food and beds and lots of fun people to play with in there, and remember, these people were being dangerous. They could have offered you the choice to acquire a product that might hurt you, and that’s a choice we’re all glad we made you give up. Because we need you. And we need you to believe that you need us. Now go back to bed, there are stress pills in the bathroom if you start thinking critically, because, really, that’s always a bummer, and there’s no point in entertaining such negative thoughts. Not when we want so badly for you to be happy.

        1. Crikey Nut,

          Maybe you need to just get out and walk away for a while. And I don’t mean from your computer, I mean from society. Sounds like you have issues to work out.. and not even real ones.

          Good luck with that!

      2. I agree with the principle, but plenty of people will make the same mistake as this article did. “its natural and pure! it came from the all natural earthmother and she would never hurt us! its just like the oh so wonderful love and cookie filled milk we had as children, before these corporate demons took over!” we pasteurize for a reason. it’s dangerous not to, but not everyone knows it, so laws are put in place to protect them.

    1. re: ‘cows milk is for cows…’

      and baby milk is for babies…and mother’s milk is for mothers…and breast milk is for breasts…

      But seriously, I do drink (not a lot) of cows milk, but I agree that milk is way too promoted by our g’mnt and that people drink way too much of it than is healthy.

      Not to mention that many people are lactose intolerant and don’t even know it. I was treated for anxiety with meds, then I figured out that maybe the stomach problems were my diet. By elimination, I learned that it was not anxiety, but fairly bad lactose intolerance. I still took the anxiety meds though, ’cause they made me feel groovy, especially combined with beer, broads and bread.

      …and tigers milk is for tigers

  2. The stuff that can kill you while tasting just fine, unlike pasteurized milk, which tastes horrible long before it’s bad enough to be dangerous.

    I’m glad they were stopped.

  3. …the bovine mother’s milk, unpasteurized, unprocessed, non-homogenized and wholly pure, natural and innocent….

    Rather heavy-handed spin in that article. Here’s a quote from the original news article:

    Attorney General Chris Koster is suing Armand and Teddi Bechard of Conway, seeking to stop them from setting up drop-off points for the sale of their unprocessed milk.

    In Missouri, it is legal to sell raw milk from the farms or deliver it directly to the customer. But it’s illegal for a farmer to distribute unprocessed milk or offer it for sale at a market or in a parking lot….

    That sounds like a perfectly valid health-protection law to me.

  4. Ummm haven’t enough people died of Mycobacterium bovis (cousin of TB), typhoid, and Salmonella? We gently treat the milk by Pasteur-isation for a reason – dude called Pasteur in fact discovered that was a good thing as it stopped people from dying.

    1. Yes, but that was when the typical farmer milked into open wooden pails that were never truly cleaned; never tried to sanitize the cow’s udder and would blow his nose with his fingers and go right back to milking, or spit near the pail. Farmers use equipment that they sanitize now; and farmers that are producing milk to be consumed raw are fanatic about cleanliness. But listen to the big dairy conglomerates, whose cows are confined indoors in their feces up to their hocks, and you’ll never hear THAT end of the story.

  5. I’m not so sure about this. It looks to me as if they were upfront about the milk being unpasteurized. If so, they weren’t lying to anyone, so I think the whole thing is absurd. As for untreated milk killing people, it’s up to the buyer to make the choice. Sometimes I do wonder if my friends outside the US are right in thinking that Americans are terrified of real food. Still, there’s no way I will quit making and eating chocolate mousse, raw eggs and all.

  6. Here in Nova Scotia a farmer was fined or charged for selling raw milk… It’s mostly illegal due to raw milk’s love of spreading TB – I’m not sure what else it might do (if anything).

    My grandmother, however, has bad reactions to pasteurized milk so a French farmer down the road delivers fresh, illegal goats milk in a jar.

    1. ephcee- re: bad reaction to pasteurized milk. You can count me in good company with your grandmother. It turns my stomach in untold ways. The raw stuff, however, is no problem. I suspect it’s all of the probiotics that are in there.

      And yes, I know it’s a risk, but it’s one that I’m more than willing to take.

  7. I’m sure it was the parking lot of a convenience store selling cigarettes and booze too, eh?

    There are clandestine milk drops here in Seattle too. Some people prefer unprocessed milk and are as willing to put up with the risks as Lisa is willing to risk raw eggs. I’m sure they knew what they were buying.

  8. I love raw milk and drink it daily, but as far as I can tell, they could have sold their milk legally in Missouri if they just followed the rules.

    Here’s the MO statute:
    http://www.realmilk.com/milk-laws-3.html#mo

    If this is a case of them avoiding what appear to be fairly light rules, then I don’t have a lot of sympathy. On the other hand, if this was a case where the farmers regularly sell it legally and were doing a favor by meeting a customer in a parking lot, then the government is being unnecessarily heavy handed.

    Here in NY, we have pretty strict rules about getting raw milk, including frequent testing and only being able to purchase on-farm. I think that goes a long way to mitigate the public health risk.

    Normally I’m all about farmer’s rights (as I’m a small time farmer myself), but in this case, I’d need to know more before jumping to their defense.

  9. …we aren’t children. if you want to buy raw milk from a guy with a cow, go for it. if you get sick, don’t even think about going after the guy who sold it to you.

    dammit, people should be able to do things at their own risk without the nanny state blowing resources protecting people from themselves.

    the problem is that as soon as someone makes a mistake, they sue whoever enabled them to make that mistake, and our retarded courts go along with it.

    life is risky! if you do some things, bad things may happen to you! or even if you don’t, bad things may happen to you! and that’s not anyone’s fault! and no one f’ing “owes” you anything for your incidental suffering!

    if two consenting adults want to engage in unregulated commerce, why is that anyone else’s business?

    you wanna buy that old chainsaw that i think may catastrophically fail without repair? here you go. if you cut your face off with it, that’s not my concern; I didn’t cut your face off – you did – and you could have done that with a whole smorgasbord of improperly maintained tools.

    What you do with what i sell you is neither my concern nor my responsibility.

    on the same note, the farmer has no interest in, and sees no benefit from, selling bad milk. it’s bad for business when you do that. so its up to the buyer to decide, for themselves, whether or not they want to drink raw milk, and whether or not they trust the source. no one is holding a gun to their head.

  10. I grew up on a cow and a half dairy drinking raw milk, but then our cows were tested for TB and Brucellosis, the two biggies that you were really worried about at the time if you really knew anything about milk production.

    E. Coli contamination is another thing all together now, and if your cow has been around any animals that have been under an industrial medicated feed regimen, and therefore contaminated with the modern E.Coli strains then you might just want to rethink pasteurization.

    1. “I grew up on a cow and a half dairy drinking raw milk, but then our cows were tested for TB and Brucellosis”

      This is what you hope your raw milk provider does for you before selling it to you. If you have to buy it directly from the farmer and not through redistribution, it’s easier to ask about that. I guess that’s the rationale for the law; regardless, I find it rather insufficient.

      I live in Missouri and bought milk from a guy who sold his milk at the same place and time a popular farm vegetable subscription dropped off its goods. Just about everyone in the community who would want raw milk was already there getting veggies, so it worked out nicely. Then the guy decided he wanted to do it all on the up and up and switched to direct milk delivery. Becoming his own distributor became too great of a hardship. He lost a lot of customers. Either they couldn’t work out a convenient delivery time, or he burned up too much gas and too many pickups driving the milk all over creation, or no one wanted to come to his isolated rural location to get it themselves. He went totally out of business.

      Anyway, I can see why family farmers would be tempted to work whatever distribution channels they can. Just more ways to shave costs a bit more to keep on going.

      I think it would make more sense to regulate raw milk products, let the feds conduct their inspections and develop a non-panic-inducing but informative label for it, and sell it wherever. Why not?

      1. This is what you hope your raw milk provider does for you before selling it to you.

        this is what I KNOW my raw milk provider does for me. caveat emptor.

        1. @mdh, Raw is milk is being hyped, just like not people that don’t vaccinate their kids. It’s an anti-science fetish that would be bad enough if it only endangered themselves, but they endanger others as well.

          You’re claim that pasteurization is new relative to humanity, while true, is also completely irrelevant. Surgery and antibiotics are new relative to humanity’s history of illness, are we then supposed to go back to blood letting and waving a chicken foot over the person in order to cure them?

          The reason why pasteurization “has been hyped for the last hundred years” is simple: people don’t get sick and die. Perhaps you’ve forgotten what it was like to live in the past with your fetishization of all things pre-19th century and “organic”, but life was brutal and short. Child mortality was higher than it is right now in the developing world, and life expectancy was around 42. Why would we want to go back to that? Because we want everything to be “all-natural”? Arsenic and radon are all-natural. Do we want that too?

          1. Raw is milk is being hyped, just like not people that don’t vaccinate their kids.

            not ‘just like it’ at all. false equivalence. false.

            It’s an anti-science fetish that would be bad enough if it only endangered themselves, but they endanger others as well.

            way to knock down the vaccine strawman there. I’m on about milk.

            You’re claim that pasteurization is new relative to humanity, while true, is also completely irrelevant.

            Not in the specific context of what I was explicitly calling out, namely, the ironly of using ‘natural’ to denote an adulterated milk product.

            Surgery and antibiotics are new relative to humanity’s history of illness, are we then supposed to go back to blood letting and waving a chicken foot over the person in order to cure them?

            again, false equivalence. I fully expect another strawman.

            The reason why pasteurization “has been hyped for the last hundred years” is simple: people don’t get sick and die.

            Bingo!! Strawman argument. Wow, you really have me there. Excellent show. Are you done?

            Perhaps you’ve forgotten what it was like to live in the past with your fetishization of all things pre-19th century and “organic”

            my what? {looks around} my fetish about 19th… WOW.

            Yes. I alse died young in the past.

            Child mortality was higher than it is right now in the developing world, and life expectancy was around 42.

            is this another strawman unrelated to my milk comment?

            Why would we want to go back to that? Because we want everything to be “all-natural”?

            No you fucking twat. Because I want my milk to be as the cow… the healthy cow that I know… makes it. Don’t legislate my freedom to make that knowledgeable decision away foolishly.

            Arsenic and radon are all-natural. Do we want that too?

            Do I want another false equivalence? No.

            But since I’m an environmental chemist, I spend my professional life helping enforce the reasonable laws about those much more dangerous subsances in order to keep morons like you safe from them.

            So, in closing, raw milk is none of your business, and strawmen are not your strong point. Rest easy friend. We have it covered.

  11. Raw milk is illegal to sell, as others have pointed out. Putting surveillance on criminal suspects is a common sort of thing for police officers to do.

    Just because you can easily get something doesn’t mean you can sell it. If, for example, you have a pure artesian spring on your property, you can drink that water and enjoy it all you want. But you can’t sell it. I’d argue that water is even more natural than milk.

    The reality is that, when it comes to foodstuffs, the dangers of impure and otherwise unsafe foodstuffs are difficult for the buying public to ascertain without expert assistance. Hence health and safety laws exist and are intended to protect the buying public.

    But, in an ideal world, one would be able to sell raw milk or home bottled water, with the warning that you do not comply to any health and safety guidelines. The buying public should have the right to take that risk.

    1. You know, it’s also illegal to take a bath in Boston on Sundays.

      Would a surveillance team be appropriate for that too, or should they maybe focus on finding the meth labs?

  12. This is terrible.
    I drink unpasteurized milk, have for years. It’s full of beneficial bacteria that is killed by the pasteurization process. The farm I get it from welcomes personal inspections and tours. They are spotlessly clean (not that I am an expert).

    People are way to afraid of EVERYTHING these days. Our antiseptic home-bound padded lives are not healthy.

    1. By “these days”, do you mean “1886”? Because that’s when people started pasturizing milk.

      And @19: Of course they do. And millions of people drink water from their own wells without dying from it. But that doesn’t mean they can market it.

      I eat food cooked in my own kitchen every day, and I will almost certainly never be negatively affected by it. But I can’t start selling takeout canisters without the Department of Health certifying that my kitchen is safe. I sleep in my own home every day, but I can’t start running a bed and breakfast without applying for the proper certifications. And so on.

      It isn’t some conspiracy against farmers. Pasteurization is a well understood process that dramatically reduces the amount of potential pathogens in a variety of foodstuffs from milk to cider to beer, and provides a measurable improvement in food safety.

      I do think raw milk should be legal, with the proper markings and warnings. But the regulations aren’t entirely without merit.

      1. Um, cider is pasteurized so that it doesn’t ferment and become an alcoholic beverage. Beer is pasteurized only when it is very, very bad beer. It merely adds shelf stability and does not affect food safety.

        Sadly, the illegality of raw milk probably makes it all the more dangerous. If it was legal you could have periodic testing of cows for disease and cigarette-style warning packaging to make sure consumers weren’t overly naive about the potential dangers.

        1. Um, cider is pasteurized so that it doesn’t ferment and become an alcoholic beverage
          Not in any civilised country it isn’t! Cider is supposed to be alcoholic; often much more so than mere beer. A half-pint glass of serious scrumpy will take down all but the most hardened of beer drinkers. Not to mention killing all their intestinal flora, polishing the floor, removing rust and stripping paint.

  13. Dairy farmers and their families drink whole milk all the time without perishing. Pasteurization drastically improve the shelf-life of milk. Your safety is an afterthought to big corporate farming.

    In meth-lab country, this prosecution is a gross misallocation of taxpayer funds.

  14. This does not surprise me at all – I went up to the Amish area of Missouri this summer, and was not able to buy food. They were able to sell it to each other, but not to non-Amish people. Its because the food wasn’t approved by the FDA. Actually makes a lot of sense – if someone got sick off of the food, they could sue as its not approved. So in a way, this is protecting the farmer – the fine is a slap on the wrist compared to what you could get from a lawsuit

  15. “…pure, natural and innocent…?” Although a cow’s natural milk may be pure and innocent, it is unlikely. Pasteurization stands as one of the greatest advances in public health of all time. Many raw foods do offer nutritional benefits, but the benefit is often outweighed by increased risk. No amount of new age belief or natural foods hype will change that reality.

    1. No amount of new age belief or natural foods hype will change that reality.

      No amount of you talking will ever make unpasteurzed milk a ‘new-age’ or hyped concept.

      Pasteurization is new, relative to the duration of humanity’s relationship with the cow. Pasteurization has been hyped for the last hundred years as the new thing we JUST HAVE TO DO.

      where is the hype? where is the new agey technology in this? It might just be 180 degrees from what you are currently convinced of.

      1. And yet, pasteurization has a distinct and measurable effect on food safety. And not just in milk, either. All sorts of foods are pasteurized.

  16. Glad to see our consumer protection system is fully functioning. Selling raw milk is illegal for the same reason that selling lead paint or using asbestos is illegal. If you have your own cow, and you want to drink the raw milk, then have fun with listeria. Hopefully the public option won’t cover you for something you did to yourself.

  17. I can’t speak for the case in question, but it seems the same rules apply as in the UK, you can sell raw milk, but only direct to the consumer, not through wholesale.

    Personally, raw milk is all I have drunk growing up, and providing the farm has a high standard of hygiene then the risk is probably minimal. Farms in the UK are regularly inspected to ensure that the hygiene is up to scratch.

    Part of the reason why raw milk often tastes better is what happens after is has left the cow, Raw milk can go from a morning milking and be used up by the end of the day. Farms in the UK are typically on every other day collection, then it goes through pasteurisation, then it is standardised to 5% fat (For whole milk). It is then homogenised to distribute the cream and ensure that it doesn’t separate. By the time the milk is landing on your cornflakes it can be 3-4 days old.

  18. Still, there’s no way I will quit making and eating chocolate mousse, raw eggs and all.

    I don’t think you’re being honest. If the odds of getting sick from eating raw eggs was 70%, I think you’d stop eating.

    I think what you’re really saying is “I don’t really know what the odds are, but my current vague impression is that it’s low enough that I’m not going to worry”. And, regardless of the overall odds, I imagine you’d stop eating them if you knew 3 or 4 people who by chance had happened to get very sick.

    Similarly, I don’t calculate odds every time I get in my car to go to work – I just kind of vaguely figure it’s below the threshold of probability that would cause me to change my behavior.

    As an individual it would be too hard to assess risks for a lot of life decisions (there’s a lot of them), but at the aggregate level it makes perfect sense to consider the risks of various options and make broad decisions. And it’s at these times that it makes sense for regulation.

    There’s plenty of safety features on a car that are regulated. Possibly some of these don’t actually make much sense – but I imagine many of them do, and in aggregate it probably saves a lot of lives that someone is regulating them.

    End of point: I think the regulations as detailed by the poster above make sense, and are a good compromise. They allow for people to get unpasteurized milk if they actually want it – but protect people who may otherwise have made a “uh, it’s probably fine” snap decision. I think currently illegal drugs should work the same way. You should have to demonstrate that you’re making an informed decision before you get, say, LSD; this kind of compromise makes a lot of sense I think.

  19. There are good reasons for pasteurizing milk, and good reasons for the laws about how you may and may not sell non-pasteurized milk. It is in the farmer’s best interest to know these laws and live by them. If the law says no sales off the farm, then your customers need to come to the farm.

    In our area there was an ecoli outbreak among customers of a cow-share program, which is essentially a way to get around the dairy laws by ‘owning’ part of a cow, which the farmer keeps and milks for you, then drops the milk off on your doorstep. The farmers insisted the ecoli was added after they left the milk unattended on their customers doorstep, insinuating there was some big government conspiracy against their farm. I find it far more likely to believe the government’s case, that there were some cleanliness issues in their facilities.

    I think raw milk brings out the crazy in some people. Fans attribute all kinds of unlikely, nearly magical properties to it. I have a small farm, and have been considering getting a dairy cow or goat, and I think I still might do a slow pasteurization on it. You’re dealing with livestock, hair, udders, buckets, there are a lot of places in the process where something can slip in where you don’t want it.

  20. People stopped dying in droves not because of antibiotics, but because of public health measures like purification of drinking water and pasteurization of milk.

    Raw milk, even from the cleanest cows possible, is *filled* with bacteria. You are playing Russian roulette every time you take a drink.

    http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/Product-SpecificInformation/MilkSafety/ucm122062.htm
    http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm079516.htm

    Several of the diseases that raw milk can transmit to humans are communicable to others, including Tuberculosis.

    Listeria is a particularly troublesome infection, as it causes spontaneous abortions in those exposed to it sometimes. You’re literally killing women’s babies if you accidentally get yourself contaminated with listeria then happen to infect them.

    http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/health/story.html?id=660fc8b8-57e8-44c8-81de-0933a3ab1456&p=1

    Listeria is an extremely common infection stemming from drinking, handling, or otherwise consuming, raw milk.

  21. A lot of this lately on BoingBoing:

    (Seemingly disproportionate punishment) for (out of context action)

    Usually it’s just sensationalism. It belittles the actual absurdities to manufacture absurdities.

  22. I prefer guilty milk. The bitterness add complexity and depth. Innocent milk just tastes like water to me.

  23. Milk was pasturized for safety reasons long before the advent of agribusiness. If the safety concern is gone now, fine. But I’d have to see proof that unpasturized milk is as safe, and lasts as long, as pasturized. How about we use irradiation instead? Would that satisfy those of you who think heating changes the taste, or would it make you more paranoid?

    I grew up across from a family owned/run dairy farm whose milk was picked up daily by a dairy and dairy products manufacturer from about 25 miles away. Frankly, I couldn’t taste the difference between their raw (but chilled) milk and that from the store. Fast forward to the early 8o’s: I had occasion to visit a friend’s vacation home which had a working farm and sheep ranch. There, I COULD taste the difference between the raw (but chilled) milk and what comes from the store, but that’s because it was VERY high in butterfat – maybe 10% or more. The cream would separate, and ir was so thick some of it would solidify at the top of the milk bottle.

    If

    1. That just reminds me of that scene in 28 Days Later where the bearded guy picks up a pristine apple at supermarket full of rotting food and just says, “Ah. Irradiated!”

      I <3 zombie films.

      1. My comment was cut short. It was supposed to read:

        “I ♥ zombie movies!”

        Apparently the Internet thinks all greater-than/less-than symbols are tags.

  24. I grew up on a dairy farm in Australia, and while there is the possibility of catching a few diseases from unprocessed milk, my family have been drinking it since the 1820s (probably even earlier, but that’s when we got our first cow!) and no one’s ever been sick from it.

    The law here is the same, no selling of “raw” milk. However, a lot of farmers get around this (especially for selling milk at a small scale to friends and neighbours) by putting a label on the container saying it’s not fit for human consumption. One guy I knew was smart enough to label it Cleopatra’s Bath Milk!

  25. Then there’s the small farm store where I buy milk — it’s not homogenized, so the fat still rises to the top, and we shake the bottle hard before drinking it. Yum. Rich and so very tasty.

    But pasteurized, so still safe to drink.

    I also buy yogurt at the same store…that comes from another small farm not far away….so I’m still getting the probiotics (and fresh whole-milk yogurt makes an awesome dessert with a little fresh fruit)

    Creamy whole milk with significantly lower chance of illness. Best of both worlds.

  26. @coaxial progress is great.

    When pasteurization was first introduced there was no test for any of the pathogens that raw milk could harbor. Hygiene was non-existent. Pasteurization was an incredible leap forward in food safety.

    Today we have simple inexpensive tests for all of these pathogens and we have vastly improved hygiene and processes. Safe raw milk is very possible today. Raw milk is an excellent source of probiotics that are proven to protect against all sorts of autoimmune-related problems like eczema and asthma. Google it if you don’t believe me. This isn’t “new age” mumbo jumbo. This is science. We have progressed beyond 1864 when Pasteurization was invented.

  27. I think the “people should be able to buy whatever they want” crowd are missing something.

    In an ideal world, it would be great if consumers could buy whatever they wanted as long as they understood and accepted the risks. But understanding the actual risks and rewards of, say, unpasteurized milk isn’t something you can do casually. How many raw milk consumers have taken even one stats or microbiology class, let alone enough of each to actually understand the risks? That’s a lot of time invested for just one product.

    That you can go into pretty much any food store and buy anything with vanishingly low risk of sudden death isn’t an accident; it’s the result of centuries of progress: scientific, legal, and regulatory. That work has removed an incredible burden from the individual consumer.

    If a few people with special tastes want to take on an additional burden to buy risky stuff, I’m fine with that. Maybe we can require a similar sort of licensing process to that used by people with a taste for recreational explosives. But this shallow “natural equals good” line of thought is based on the same sort of self-indulgent ignorance that gave us “let them eat cake”.

    1. William, fixed it for ya:

      I think the “people should be able to buy whatever they want” crowd are missing something.

      In an ideal world, it would be great if consumers could buy whatever they wanted as long as they understood and accepted the risks. But understanding the actual risks and rewards of, say, sports cars isn’t something you can do casually. How many sports car consumers have taken even one stats or automotive engineering class, let alone enough of each to actually understand the risks? That’s a lot of time invested for just one product.

      1. So are you saying that sports cars aren’t regulated? That they don’t have seat belts, air bags, crumple zones?

    2. If a few people with special tastes want to take on an additional burden to buy risky stuff, I’m fine with that. Maybe we can require a similar sort of licensing process to that used by people with a taste for recreational explosives. But this shallow “natural equals good” line of thought is based on the same sort of self-indulgent ignorance that gave us “let them eat cake”.

      I’m glad you are fine with someone taking voluntarily taking on risks. I’m not advocating that raw milk be in every corner store. However, if they seek it out they will likely run across the dangers. There should even be warning on the container. The idea of licensing people for drinking milk is absurd. The reason recreation explosives are licensed is certainly not because they may hurt themselves. Maybe it has something to do with the danger posed to others. I will agree that the natural = good is silly though.

  28. There are a lot of things intertwined with the regulation of milk in the US. A lot of the comments on this posting have argued an effect and cause relationship for why pasteurized milk is “better” than raw milk. I refer to the containation in milk, meat and produce results in a large part from the conditions and methods of large scale farming and agriculture production. Consider that in some settings farmers have innoculated raw milk with harmful bacteria, however, the beneficial fauna provided protection against this bacteria. Healthy animals, and clean production facilities will result in healthy milk (raw or pasteurized). Cows that a raised on a counterintuitive diet of corn, in close quarters, and a heavy emphasis on antibiotics to overcome corn induced gastritis will product less healthy milk. Most Raw milk producers would permit and even welcome testing of their milk against pasteurized alternatives for pathogens. Comments on shelf life are naive, as a shift to Raw milk for the mass would require a change in farming methods to smaller scale dairy operations. Also, note that different produces pasteurize in very different ways. Those that support pasteurization should realize that UHT (i.e. very high temp) renders milk less bio-available that low temp pasteurization.

  29. “But I’d have to see proof that unpasturized milk is as safe, and lasts as long, as pasturized.”

    It’s obviously neither – I would assume raw milk lasts nowhere near as long. Of course it’s a risk to drink raw milk, but I was under the impression that if you had your cows tested, most of the trouble of infections came from transporting milk long distances and that’s why pasteurization helps so much (at least nowadays when we know more about germs and such). I could be wrong though.

  30. Well, anybody talking about goat milk?

    Our food safety laws are basically manufactured to give large companies the right to be sloppy and use pasteurization and irradiation to make their food products less disgusting.

    If you have seen Food, Inc, you know that there is a company that takes all those gristly bits of dead flesh that have been contaminated in one way or another and washes the shit out of them with an ammonia solution before homogenizing them into a meat food product.

    Yummy.

  31. Micheal Schmidt of Durham, Ontario, Canada is fighting the same thing – really unusual guy – he’s conducted operas in his barn (A wonderful Magic Flute and Handel’s Creation!) and tried to revive the oldest breed of cow in Canada. (Which furnished some of his underground milk…).

  32. Different state (Virginia), but I can tell you exactly what a legal raw milk operation is tested for, regularly, by the state. Had product samples picked up today, in fact.

    Listeria
    Staph. Aureus
    E. coli/coliform
    Salmonella

    That’s it. No TB, you’ll note.

  33. dammit, people should be able to do things at their own risk without the nanny state blowing resources protecting people from themselves.

    The right to do things at your own risk does not extend to juggling live hand-grenades in a crowded cinema, or infecting yourself with highly contagious, lethal diseases. If you wish to do these things, go buy your own island so that you don’t put the rest of us at risk.

  34. In Queensland, Australia there has only been a few cases of food poisoning from dairy products, all of were caused by unpasteurised milk. Here you can get around the selling restrictions by calling it bathing milk (for people who want to bathe like cleopatra).

  35. “In an ideal world, it would be great if consumers could buy whatever they wanted as long as they understood and accepted the risks. But understanding the actual risks and rewards of, say, unpasteurized milk isn’t something you can do casually.”

    See everybody – you’re TOO STUPID to make decisions for yourself. Just DO WHAT YOU’RE TOLD.

    Or, alternatively, why don’t you busybodies leave us all the hell alone to lead our own lives as we see fit.

  36. I drink raw milk all the time. It comes from a local dairy licensed by Washington State to sell unpasteurized Jersey milk at the dairy and at stores licensed to sell milk and related products. The dairy is amazingly clean. The cows are very healthy. The farm is run by a local family, and they are meticulous in their operations. Despite this, a number of people have been infected with e coli, at least one of them requiring hospitalization. The dairy has been tested and retested. The bacteria almost certainly come from the local pasture and not the dairy. It is dangerous for people with weak immune systems.

    I think raw milk should be strictly licensed and sold with suitable warnings. No, you don’t want to feed it to your baby or use it build up your AIDS damaged immune system. Maybe in a few years there will be an inexpensive test for contaminated milk, but right now, this entails expensive lab work. Raw milk also lacks vitamin D which is an important vitamin in Washington State which has a lot of multiple sclerosis because we don’t get a lot of sun.

    I drink it because it is incredibly delicious, so I’m willing to take my chances.

  37. MadMolecule: Considering that the law allows anyone who wants raw milk to have it, if they’re willing to take the extra trouble, it’s hard to see it as a health protection measure. OTOH, when the law prohibits the creation of drop-off points for raw milk sales, it’s pretty easy to see it as an entry barrier to protect established retailers from low-overhead competition.

  38. Ohai,
    In France, we can buy whole unpasteurized milk, micro-filtrated to remove potentially harmful bacteria. It’s legal to sell everywhere, so I guess there are no particular health hazards.
    It’s also delicious. Which is fortunate, since it has a very limited shelf-life, so you usually have to drink it kind of fast.

  39. selling raw milk (and cheese, mmmmm) is legal in VT AT the farm it’s produced. or something like that, IANAL. few things are more delicious than cheese from raw milk.

  40. I think this is exactly what is wrong with America. We are too busy protecting stupid people from themselves that our laws now dictate what we can eat or drink. People aren’t allowed to decide for themselves what is safe. If our Government had put a stop to frivolous lawsuits years ago, maybe people wouldn’t have gotten the idea that it could be a major payday for them if they hurt themselves and no one stops them! No one is forcing anyone to drink raw milk but let the ones that want to accept the risk! (without blaming others if they get sick) What happened to this being a free country? Maybe “society” would be better off if the “caution coffee may be hot” people managed to weed themselves out! (natural selection) Raw milk is safer in my opinion, IF you verify its source. Commercial farming is going to be deadly when those 5,000 chickens, pigs or cows housed in cramped quarters become diseased and it isn’t caught in time. Not to mention the hormones and who Knows what else they are fed. But that is “regulated agriculture” That is considered the “safe” source for our meat and milk.

    1. So, you’re arguing for rapid natural selection? Because large segments of the US population believe that the earth is 5,000 years old and maybe flat, too. I have minimal confidence in their ability not to eat rat poison just because the package is shiny.

  41. I haven’t been able to drink pasturized milk for almost fifteen years. Even when I would take lactase pills, my body reject the milk. About a month ago, I tried drinking raw milk, and I had absolutly no adverse affects. I drink about a quart a day now, and I have lost twelve pounds off of my stomach in this short time. What pasturization, and homoginization does, is it takes something from a perfect state, and makes it to un-natural state, which the body can’t cope with. All the great nutrition that is in raw milk is burned out. That is one of the reasons why vitamin D is added to commercial milk. Unlike what someone said before, raw milk has plenty of vitamin D in it. There are natural enzymes in raw milk which help with the digestion of lactase. There are also enzymes that protect the milk from developing many bad bacterias.
    Here are some milk facts that many of the posters on this site aren’t aware of:

    There’s little mention in the mainstream media these days, of traditional foods having healing properties. Sure, there’s a ton of hype touting unfermented soy products, vegetable oils and supplements as modern saviors, but in reality, these items have risk-to-benefit ratios like many drugs do (1).

    Few people are aware that clean, raw milk from grass-fed cows was actually used as a medicine in the early part of the last century (2)(3). That’s right. Milk straight from the udder, a sort of “stem cell” of foods, was used as medicine to treat, and frequently cure some serious chronic diseases (4). From the time of Hippocrates to until just after World War II, this “white blood” nourished and healed uncounted millions.

    Clean raw milk from pastured cows is a complete and properly balanced food. You could live on it exclusively if you had to. Indeed, published accounts exist of people who have done just that (5)(6). What’s in it that makes it so great? Let’s look at the ingredients to see what makes it such a powerful food (7).

    Proteins

    Our bodies use amino acids as building blocks for protein. Depending on who you ask, we need 20-22 of them for this task. Eight of them are considered essential, in that we have to get them from our food. The remaining 12-14 we can make from the first eight via complex metabolic pathways in our cells.

    Raw cow’s milk has all 8 essential amino acids in varying amounts, depending on stage of lactation (8). About 80% of the proteins in milk are caseins- reasonably heat stable and, for most, easy to digest. The remaining 20% or so are classed as whey proteins, many of which have important physiological effects (bioactivity) (9). Also easy to digest, but very heat-sensitive (10), these include key enzymes (11) (specialized proteins) and enzyme inhibitors, immunoglobulins (antibodies) (12), metal-binding proteins, vitamin binding proteins and several growth factors.

    Current research is now focusing on fragments of protein (peptide segments) hidden in casein molecules that exhibit anti-microbial activity (13).

    Lactoferrin (14), an iron-binding protein, has numerous beneficial properties including (as you might guess) improved absorption and assimilation of iron, anti-cancer properties and anti-microbial action against several species of bacteria responsible for dental cavities (15). Recent studies also reveal that it has powerful antiviral properties as well (16).

    Two other players in raw milk’s antibiotic protein/enzyme arsenal are lysozyme and lactoperoxidase (17). Lysozyme can actually break apart cell walls of certain undesirable bacteria, while lactoperoxidase teams up with other substances to help knock out unwanted microbes too.

    The immunoglobulins, an extremely complex class of milk proteins also known as antibodies, provide resistance to many viruses, bacteria and bacterial toxins and may help reduce the severity of asthma symptoms (18). Studies have shown significant loss of these important disease fighters when milk is heated to normal processing temperatures (19).

    Carbohydrates

    Lactose, or milk sugar, is the primary carbohydrate in cow’s milk. Made from one molecule each of the simple sugars glucose and galactose, it’s known as a disaccharide. People with lactose intolerance for one reason or another (age, genetics, etc.), no longer make the enzyme lactase and so can’t digest milk sugar (20). This leads to some unsavory symptoms, which, needless to say, the victims find rather unpleasant at best. Raw milk, with its lactose-digesting Lactobacilli bacteria intact, may allow people who traditionally have avoided milk to give it another try.

    The end-result of lactose digestion is a substance called lactic acid (responsible for the sour taste in fermented dairy products). Besides having known inhibitory effects on harmful species of bacteria (21), lactic acid boosts the absorption of calcium, phosphorus and iron, and has been shown to make milk proteins more digestible by knocking them out of solution as fine curd particles (22)(23).

    Fats

    Approximately two thirds of the fat in milk is saturated. Good or bad for you? Saturated fats play a number of key roles in our bodies: from construction of cell membranes and key hormones to providing energy storage and padding for delicate organs, to serving as a vehicle for important fat-soluble vitamins (see below) (24).

    All fats cause our stomach lining to secrete a hormone (cholecystokinin or CCK) which, aside from boosting production and secretion of digestive enzymes, let’s us know we’ve eaten enough (25)(26). With that trigger removed, non-fat dairy products and other fat-free foods can potentially help contribute to over-eating.

    Consider that, for thousands of years before the introduction of the hydrogenation process (pumping hydrogen gas through oils to make them solids) (27) and the use of canola oil (from genetically modified rapeseed) (28), corn, cottonseed, safflower and soy oils, dietary fats were somewhat more often saturated and frequently animal-based. (Prior to about 1850, animals in the U.S. were not so heavily fed corn or grain). Use of butter, lard, tallows, poultry fats, fish oils, tropical oils such as coconut and palm, and cold pressed olive oil were also higher than levels seen today. (29)(30)

    Now consider that prior to 1900, very few people died from heart disease. The introduction of hydrogenated cottonseed oil in 1911 (as trans-fat laden Crisco) (31)(32) helped begin the move away from healthy animal fats, and toward the slow, downward trend in cardiovascular health from which millions continue to suffer today.

    CLA, short for conjugated linoleic acid and abundant in milk from grass-fed cows, is a heavily studied, polyunsaturated Omega-6 fatty acid with promising health benefits (33). It certainly does wonders for rodents, judging by the hundreds of journal articles I’ve come across! (34) There’s serious money behind CLA, so it’s a sure bet there’s something to it.

    Among CLA’s many potential benefits: it raises metabolic rate, helps remove abdominal fat, boosts muscle growth, reduces resistance to insulin, strengthens the immune system and lowers food allergy reactions. As luck would have it, grass-fed raw milk has from 3-5 times the amount found in the milk from feed lot cows (35)(36)
    See my Fat Primer for a better understanding of saturated fats and fatty acids and their impact on our health.

    Vitamins

    Volumes have been written about the two groups of vitamins, water and fat soluble, and their contribution to health. Whole raw milk has them all, and they’re completely available for your body to use. (37) Whether regulating your metabolism or helping the biochemical reactions that free energy from the food you eat, they’re all present and ready to go to work for you.

    Just to repeat, nothing needs to be added to raw milk, especially that from grass-fed cows, to make it whole or better. No vitamins. No minerals. No enriching. It’s a complete food.

    Minerals

    Our bodies, each with a biochemistry as unique as our fingerprints (38), are incredibly complex, so discussions of minerals, or any nutrients for that matter, must deal with ranges rather than specific amounts. Raw milk contains a broad selection of completely available minerals ranging from the familiar calcium and phosphorus on down to trace elements, the function of some, as yet, still rather unclear.

    A sampling of the health benefits of calcium, an important element abundant in raw milk includes: reduction in cancers, particularly of the colon: (39) higher bone mineral density in people of every age, lower risk of osteoporosis and fractures in older adults; lowered risk of kidney stones; formation of strong teeth and reduction of dental cavities, to name a few. (40)(41)(42)

    An interesting feature of minerals as nutrients is the delicate balance they require with other minerals to function properly. For instance, calcium needs a proper ratio of two other macronutrients, phosphorus and magnesium, to be properly utilized by our bodies. Guess what? Nature codes for the entire array of minerals in raw milk (from cows on properly maintained pasture) to be in proper balance to one another (43) thus optimizing their benefit to us.

    Enzymes

    The 60 plus (known) fully intact and functional enzymes in raw milk (44)(45) have an amazing array of tasks to perform, each one of them essential in facilitating one key reaction or another. Some of them are native to milk, and others come from beneficial bacteria growing in the milk. Just keeping track of them would require a post-doctoral degree!

    To me, the most significant health benefit derived from food enzymes is the burden they take off our body. When we eat a food that contains enzymes devoted to its own digestion, it’s that much less work for our pancreas. (46) Given the choice, I’ll bet that busy organ would rather occupy itself with making metabolic enzymes and insulin, letting food digest itself.

    The amylase (47), bacterially-produced lactase (48), lipases (49) and phosphatases (50) in raw milk, break down starch, lactose (milk sugar), fat (triglycerides) and phosphate compounds respectively, making milk more digestible and freeing up key minerals. Other enzymes, like catalase, (51) lysozyme (52) and lactoperoxidase (53) help to protect milk from unwanted bacterial infection, making it safer for us to drink.

    Cholesterol

    Milk contains about 3mg of cholesterol per gram (54) – a decent amount. Our bodies make most of what we need, that amount fluctuating by what we get from our food. (55) Eat more, make less. Either way, we need it. Why not let raw milk be one source?

    Cholesterol is a protective/repair substance. A waxy plant steroid (often lumped in with the fats), our body uses it as a form of water-proofing, and as a building block for a number of key hormones.

    It’s natural, normal and essential to find it in our brain, liver, nerves, blood, bile, indeed, every cell membrane. (56) The best analogy I’ve heard regarding cholesterol’s supposed causative effects on the clogging of our arteries is that blaming it is like blaming crime on the police because they’re always at the scene.

    Seriously consider educating yourself fully on this critical food issue. It could, quite literally, save your life. See my Cholesterol Primer to learn the truth.

    Beneficial Bacteria
    Through the process of fermentation, several strains of bacteria naturally present or added later (Lactobacillus, Leuconostoc and Pediococcus, to name a few) can transform milk into an even more digestible food. (57)

    With high levels of lactic acid, numerous enzymes and increased vitamin content, ‘soured’ or fermented dairy products like yogurt and kefir (made with bacteria and yeast, actually) provide a plethora of health benefits for the savvy people who eat them. (58) Being acid lovers, these helpful little critters make it safely through the stomach’s acid environment to reach the intestines where they really begin to work their magic (59) (Above right, Lactobacillus casei).

    Down there in the pitch black, some of them make enzymes that help break proteins apart- a real benefit for people with weakened digestion whether it be from age, pharmaceutical side-effects or illness. (60)

    Other strains get to work on fats by making lipases that chop triglycerides into useable chunks. (61) Still others take on the milk sugar, lactose, and, using fancy sounding enzymes like beta-galactosidase, glycolase and lactic dehydrogenase (take notes, there’ll be a quiz later!), make lactic acid out of it. (62)

    As I mentioned way up yonder in the Carbohydrate section, having lactic acid working for you in your nether regions can be a good thing. Remember? It boosts absorption of calcium, iron and phosphorus, breaks up casein into smaller chunks and helps eliminate bad bugs. (I told you there’d be a quiz!)

    Raw milk is a living food with remarkable self-protective properties, but here’s the kick: most foods tend to go south as they age, raw milk just keeps getting better.

    Not to keep harping on this, but what the heck: through helpful bacterial fermentation, you can expect an increase in enzymes, vitamins, mineral availability and overall digestibility. Not bad for old age!

  42. You don’t know what you are talking about if you say raw milk is dangerous. It is only made dangerous by mass farming techniques that crowd cows together in disease-filled enclosures. Raw milk from healthy cows is one of the best foods on earth, but must come from small-farm operations that plan to sell it raw, and test for the health and cleanliness of their cows on a regular basis. There is ample good info on the net, if you will only look for it. America is fat and dying, and raw milk is one of the cures.

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