Australian raw milk charlatans

Selling the raw milk for human consumption is illegal in Australia but many health stores offer the product for cosmetic use, suggesting people can bathe in the substance.

colbert.raw.milkThis has allowed the unpasteurised milk to be available in several niche outlets in Sydney positioned alongside regular pasteurised milk.

UNSW’s Associate Professor of Food and Microbiology, Julian Cox, said marketing raw milk as a cosmetic product was nothing but retailers attempting to dodge the ban and could lead to infection.

Certain bacteria can get into the raw milk during the milking process if the cow has mastitis, or “milk fever,” he explained.

This can trigger skin infections in humans if they use it on the skin and it comes into contact with wounds or burns.

“In mastitis, bacteria can be present at very high levels in raw milk,” Associate Professor Cox said.

“Pseudomonas aeruginosa is well known to cause problems with wounds and burns, high levels could be a problem even with topical or cosmetic use — without consumption.”

Pasteurisation removes such a threat.

“Pasteurisation is something we have had in place for a century.” he said.

“It keeps milk at a safe and important part of the food supply.”

Sydney Children’s Hospital department head of paediatric gastroenterology, Dr Avi Lemberg, said people needed to be reminded that infectious diseases are still a risk despite medical advancements.

“People have come to believe that infectious diseases are no longer a risk by things like pasteurization and also immunization, but in fact they are saving millions of lives every year around the world,” Dr Lemberg said.

“The really young and the elderly are those who will be most affected.”

Dr Lemberg also criticised the cosmetic marketing for raw milk.

raw.milk.death.1917“It’s a mask so people can take it home and so-call have a ‘more natural’ lifestyle,” he said.

Bondi man and armchair epidemiologist Bill Tucker is an avid raw milk supporter.

The 55-year-old believes the drink has health benefits and the controversy and health fears surrounding it are unnecessary.

“I believe it’s got good bacteria. They have it everywhere else in the world like Europe. I can’t see a problem with it,” he said outside The Health Emporium in Bondi.

“There are a few germs. I think that’s why people get allergies, a few more germs would toughen people up.”

Fellow shopper Deborah Whitebread also supports the sale and production of raw milk.

She said milk was best straight from the cow and people should have the freedom to choose whether or not they drink it.

A 30-year-old woman, who also did not want to be named, said she was aware they sold raw milk for bathing yet she was suspicious of how customers actually use the product.

“It is mainly health food stores that it is sold in and I guess it is giving people the opportunity if they want to use it for cosmetic purposes that it is there,” she said.

“But I think from people who I know who use it they don’t use it for cosmetic purposes they use it to consume at home.

“It’s a thing that I would not give to children or myself.”


Claire Harvey: Raw milk is deadly ‘mooshine’, and nobody in Australia is bathing in it

Claire Harvey writes in The Sunday Telegraph that just before Christmas, a Victorian three-year-old died and four more children were in hospital with life-threatening illnesses after drinking unpasteurized ‘raw’ milk, commonly sold in health food stores.

raw.bath.milkThe Victorian government responded quickly, passing a regulation that meant all milk manufactured in Victoria must be either pasteurized, or be rendered undrinkable with a bitter-tasting agent.

NSW Premier Mike Baird says only national action will work and the Government can’t stop health food stores selling this stuff. I think that’s nonsense — Jim Beam isn’t manufactured here, either, but the Government certainly regulates that.

I’d be happy to escort Mr Baird or any of his Cabinet to the myriad ‘health’ stores where raw milk, imported from other states, is being sold with misleading labels declaring it to be ‘cosmetic’ or ‘bath milk.’ Worse, it’s displayed in dairy cabinets, right next to the regular milk and cheese.

Here’s why I think the Government must immediately order all milk to be pasteurized.

Nobody’s bathing in it. Hello. Does our Government really believe people when they say raw milk is for bathing? It’s almost sweetly naive that anyone would actually believe that claim — let alone the health authorities. If it’s for bathing, why does it need to be kept in the fridge? And please don’t say ‘to stop it from going off’. The ‘cosmetic’ raw milk label is a deliberate wink-wink way to get around the law — dreamt up precisely so parents who think they know better than biologists can give this stuff to their children. Anyway, you’d have a very shallow bath on a two-litre bottle — unless you diluted it into homeopathic raw milk. Yeah, right.

Milk is for kids. Toddlers are by far the greatest drinkers of milk across the entire population: more than 83 per cent of children aged between two and three drink milk every day. In fact, dairy products are overwhelmingly toddlers’ most commonly consumed foods: an average of 96 per cent have some dairy product every single day, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey. So what’s the possibility that tiny children will end up consuming the raw milk in health-food shops? I’d say it’s almost guaranteed.

Little tummies are fragile. Under the age of three, the immune system is far too delicate to cope with the bugs that adult guts can process. Bacteria like listeria or E. coli might give an adult a few days of unpleasant toilet time, but they are potentially deadly for children and can cause lifelong neurological disorders. That’s what happened to at least one of the children hospitalised in Victoria. Doctors say one of the greatest risks associated with food poisoning is severe dehydration _ and dehydration is a killer of infants and small children.

Kids don’t read labels. They just charge up to the fridge and grab the nearest bottle. Even the ones who are old enough to read are highly unlikely to say: “Hang on mum, this one says ‘cosmetic purposes only’,” as it sploshes over the biodynamic spelt flakes.

Endangering children is nobody’s right. Libertarians say if people want to drink unpasteurised milk, they should be allowed to do so — just like if you want to go without a seatbelt or a bike-helmet, you should be a allowed to risk your life. My view is we need to find the balance between individual liberty and protection from the idiocy of others. Everyone has a God-given right to make bad decisions for themselves, so long as it doesn’t endanger anyone else (and particularly any children). If that makes us a nanny state, I’m all for it.

‘People should not be feeding it to their children’ Victoria law preventing the sale of raw ‘bath’ milk begins today

In response to the death of a child and the hospitalization of others, the Victorian government has changed the laws around the sale of raw milk.

raw.milk.victoriaAll raw bath or cosmetic milk products now must be pasteurized, or have a gag-inducing agent added that makes it taste bitter, before sale.

Victorian Minister for Consumer Affairs, Jane Garrett, says the law change is prudent.

“There’s been a lot of confusion about the capacity for humans to consume raw milk and its effects,” she said.

“A lot of these products are in containers identical to drinkable milk and stored in the same locations in shops.”

Producers of bath milk in Victoria contacted by ABC Rural say the law change has been so swift that they don’t know what it will mean for them, or what equipment they’ll need to continue production.

Minister Garrett says she had no choice but to act quickly.

“We did need to act quickly becasue clearly, undrinkable milk was being sold in containers the same as drinkable milk, and clearly people have been drinking it.”

“All of the advice says it is a dangerous activity and it is (already) unlawful to sell raw milk for consumption in Victoria.”

At this stage the law change is only for Victoria.

Another loophole the United Dairyfamers of Victoria (UDV) want closed is a scheme that allows farmers to sell part of their cow to a consumer who is then supplied the production of their cow as raw milk.

Minister Garrett says whilst there are no current penalties for these practices at this stage, the law could soon change.

“There is an investigation being led by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) which all states are participating in.

“We would expect to see results from that.”

Although these rule changes are for producers and sellers of raw milk the Minister says consumers should be wary of the new law.

“If people want to feed raw milk to their children and their children get sick, that may be an issue authorities want to look into.

“People should not be feeding it to their children. People should not be drinking it.”

Australian raw milk producer awaits impact

In the increasingly bizarre statements from raw milk producers in Australia, add Simon Schulz, of the Schulz Organic Dairy, who told Australian Dairy Farmer while their raw milk was clearly labeled as not for human consumption, he has no way of knowing if customers choose to drink it and that raw milk was subject to all the same hygiene standards as human consumption milk, with the exception of pasteurization.

colbert.raw.milkLabeling raw milk as not for human consumption and as “bath” or “cosmetic” milk has long provided a loophole for suppliers. 

Australia looks at whole chain approach to Salmonella risk management

Australia still has an egg problem. So Dr Kylie Hewson is, according to The Poultry Site, developing through-chain Salmonella risk management strategies for eggs.

raw.eggsDr Hewson explained: “If I’m talking to producers, it is about understanding the basis for their current salmonella risk management strategies, and how they go about improving or reviewing these. If I’m talking to retailers or regulatory authorities, it is about the basis for their standards on-farm in terms of food safety and what information their decisions are based on.”

“The first step is to develop scientifically-grounded standards and get them in place,” said Dr Hewson. This involves a lot of research, talk and groundwork. She has been spending quite a bit of time with Health Departments and food regulatory authorities to understand their processes for investigating foodborne illness outbreaks.

“I’ve been asking why they do the things they do, and why they look at what they look at,” she said. Similarly for retailers, questions about what their standards are based on have been asked. …

“A major issue for the industry is that if there is a foodborne illness outbreak, it does not matter where the eggs have come from, the industry as a whole is tarred with the same brush, so it becomes reputational.”

One strategy being investigated is the option of creating a market for eggs produced to the highest standards of Salmonella risk management. This idea mirrors the British Lion scheme in the United Kingdom, and is especially applicable to high-risk food producers, e.g. those producing raw-egg products.

Queensland raw milk producers say Victoria reaction to death and 3 HUS cases is ‘knee-jerk’

Moves by the Victorian Government to introduce new laws aimed at preventing people from drinking unpasteurized milk have prompting questions about whether other states will do the same. the changes being introduced in Victoria, suppliers will forced to either pasteurise the product, or add an agent to make it taste bitter.

The changes come after the death of a three-year-old boy earlier this month, after he drank raw milk earlier this month.

Victoria’s Consumer Affairs Minister, Jane Garrett, says the new laws aim to make bath milk undrinkable, by adding an ingredient to make it taste bitter.

“If people do accidentally confuse raw milk with pasteurised milk, they will either be drinking a product that is safe because it’s been pasteurised, or it will have the foulest taste known to human kind and they will not be able to continue drinking it,” she said.

There are less than ten raw milk producers in Queensland, but some are already nervous that similar regulations could be introduced in the Sunshine State.

Following the child’s death in Victoria, Queensland Health came out strongly against the sale of unpasteurised milk.

At the time, Queensland Health’s chief medical officer Dr Jeanette Young said she would like to see big changes in the rules governing ‘bath milk.’

Yesterday a spokesperson for the Queensland Health Minister said the Government’s position had not changed since then.

The state’s producers of unpasteurised milk say there is no need for greater regulation.

Cleopatra’s Bath Milk manager Trevor Mahaffey says the decision in Victoria is a knee-jerk reaction and he doesn’t believe the Queensland Government will follow suit.

He says buyers should be allowed to make their own decisions.

“It’s a shame that the minister down there (in Victoria) hasn’t looked at both sides of the argument and spoken to people from both sides,” he said.

Mr Mahaffey also said it had not been proven the child in Victoria had died as a result of drinking unpasteurised milk.

stupid.jenny.dec.14But, three other kids developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a kidney ailment consistent with shiga-toxin producing E. coli.

Even more baffling was the comments from Queensland Dairy Farmers Organisation president, Brian Tessman, who says it is up to the government to decide how it legislates around raw milk.

“They need to decide is it an acceptable risk or not and either decide if they should ban it or put a quality assurance system on it,” he said.

“They need to go on the science and I am not a scientist and we don’t have anyone at the QDO with the scientific qualifications needed to make that decision.”

Maybe they should get some. Or shut-up.

‘Recoil in horror’ Raw milk producers to be forced to make their product unpalatable under new Australian state regulation

Raw milk producers will be subject to tough new restrictions, making it harder to sell the product for human consumption, the Victorian Government has said.

5961062-3x2-340x227Under the new regulations, dairy farmers producing milk must either make it safe for human consumption or make it unpalatable by adding a bittering agent.

“Raw milk producers will have to either treat the milk with a pasteurisation process to make sure that any harmful bacteria are killed before there is a risk that consumers will drink it,” Victorian Minister for Consumer Affairs Jane Garrett said.

“If they don’t wish to go through this pasteurisation process, they will be required to add a very small drop of an agent that makes the milk entirely unpalatable.

“This means that the smallest amount will make the individual recoil in horror, which will prevent absolutely the deliberate or accidental consumption.”

The Victorian Health Department said four other children also became ill after drinking the product.

The new rules allow manufacturers and farmers to turn raw milk into non-edible products, Ms Garrett said.

“It is used often in making soap for example, or making stock feed and that can be done without it ever gracing the shelves,” she said.

She said farmers who breached the new rules would face a fine and could have their licences cancelled.

“These new conditions will help protect Victorians from the serious risks of drinking raw unpasteurised milk,” Ms Garrett said.

“Despite the labelling of raw milk as not fit for human consumption, some Victorians have been put at risk from drinking it.

pasteur“Raw milk has legitimate uses, but is not safe to drink. We are going to better regulate the industry to protect consumers.”

 Raw milk, choice and kids


 In May 1943, Edsel Bryant Ford, the son of auto magnate Henry Ford, died at the age of 49 in Detroit, of what some claimed was a broken heart.

Biology, however, decreed that Ford died of undulant fever, apparently brought on by drinking unpasteurized milk from the Ford dairy herd, at the behest of his father’s mistaken belief that all things natural must be good.

Shortly thereafter, my mother – then a child — developed undulate fever, which my grandfather, with no knowledge of microbiology, attributed to the dairy cows on his farm in Ontario, Canada.

He got rid of the cows and went into potatoes, and then asparagus.

Earlier this month, the latest in a seemingly endless number of outbreaks attributed to raw or unpasteurized milk, contributed to the death of a 3-year-old in Victoria, Australia, and left at least three other children under the age of five with hemolytic uremic syndrome, a side effect of infection with shiga-toxin producing E. coli.

In addition to the personal tragedies, every outbreak raises questions about risk and personal choice.

It’s true that choice is a good thing. People make risk-benefit decisions daily by smoking, drinking, driving, and especially in Brisbane, cycling.

But the 19th-century English utilitarian philosopher, John Stuart Mill, noted that absolute choice has limits, stating, “if it (in this case the consumption of raw unpasteurized milk) only directly affects the person undertaking the action, then society has no right to intervene, even if it feels the actor is harming himself.”

Excused from Mill’s libertarian principle are those people who are incapable of self-government — children.

Society generally regulates what is allowed for children – most parents aren’t having a scotch and a smoke with their 3-year-olds.

Celebrity chefs, would-be farmers and the wannabe fashionable can devoutly state that grass-fed cattle are safer than grain-fed by spinning select scientific data — except that the feces of cattle raised on diets of grass, hay and other fibrous forage do contain E. coli O157:H7 as well as salmonella, campylobacter and others.

Ten years ago, Ontario’s former chief medical health officer, said, “Some people feel that unpasteurized milk is either not bad for their health (they don’t believe the health risks) or they actually believe that it has healing properties because it’s all natural and untainted by government interference.” 

Except poop happens, especially in a barn, and when it does people, usually kids, will get sick. That’s why drinking water is chlorinated and milk is pasteurized — one more example of how science can be used to enhance what nature provided.

Yes, lots of other foods make people sick, but in the case of milk, there is a solution to limit harm – pasteurization.

Society has a responsibility to the many — philosopher Mill also articulated how the needs of the many outweighed the needs of the one — to use knowledge to minimize harm.

The only thing lacking in pasteurized milk is the bacteria that make people, especially kids, seriously ill.

Adults, do whatever you think works to ensure a natural and healthy lifestyle, but please don’t impose your dietary regimes on those incapable of protecting themselves: your kids.

Dr. Douglas Powell is a former professor of food safety in Canada and the U.S. who now resides in Brisbane and publishes


0478 222 221

It ain’t about food safety: Why halal certification is in turmoil

Kirralie Smith is a permaculture farmer from northern New South Wales and a mother of three. She is also the public face of the virulent campaign to boycott halal food and products.

UnknownHalal means permissible for Muslims to eat or use, and Smith’s Facebook page “‘Boycott Halal in Australia” has 41,000 supporters. She speaks at events organised by “Islam-critical” groups such as the Q Society, which has also been involved in local campaigns to stop mosques being built. Her “Halal Choices” website, she says, gets 80,000 visitors a month. 

She says her objection is not to Islam itself but the extra cost she thinks is imposed on Australian consumers by companies paying to have products – everything from milk to pies and shampoo – certified halal. 

Halal products are certified as being free from anything that Muslims are not allowed to eat or use (such as pork and alcohol). The products must be made and stored using machines that  are cleansed according to Islamic law. 

Large processing plants will have Muslim staff members who are accredited in some instances to bless the factory. Halal slaughtering of animals in Australia is done after they are stunned.

Smith and her supporters claim halal certification is a scam by Muslim interests to raise money for mosques and therefore for “jihad.” They base this assertion on media reports in France, Canada and the United States claiming certification funds had been paid to organisations linked to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Yet neither Smith nor her unofficial patron, the Q Society, could elaborate on the Australian situation. 

Australian festivus advice

In the aftermath of 34 people being sickened at an Australian Christmas party – I’d go with the rice or C. perfringens on turkey given the rapid onset – experts are proclaiming how simple food safety is, and that people only have to follow basic steps.

festivus1There has been no identification of the causative agent or food, but that hasn’t restrained some from speaking out.

Dr. Thomas Razga, an emergency medicine specialist, sees cases of food poisoning every day at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

“Everyday we would have multiple patients coming in with either infectious gastroenteritis or, particularly around this party season, anything from mild to quite severe cases of food poisoning from poorly prepared and stored food,” he said.

It really is 1978 in parts of Australia.

I’m not sure what consumers are supposed to do about Listeria in candy apples, but that’s another story.


34 sickened: Australian Xmas party not so simple

More than 30 people came down with food poisoning after a Christmas party in Victoria.

Disco-Scene-airplaneOne man was taken to hospital from the gathering in Portsea, while another 33 others suffered nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Paramedics say only a few of the 44 party guests, which included six children, were unaffected.

In yet another reminder that it really is 1978 in Australia, paramedic team leader Brendan Keane said Friday, “With lots of barbecues and parties over the holidays it’s important for people to take some simple food handling precautions and reduce the chances of food poisoning.”

If it’s so simple why do so many people get sick?