Are Australian raw milk pushers the same as U.S. anti-vaxxers?

Adults can choose to do many things, like drink unpasteurized milk or not get vaccinated, but those choices should not be inflicted on children.

milk.dirty.toronto.1913A growing number of parents in recent years, especially in the U.S., have skipped their children’s vaccines because of a discredited belief that vaccines are linked to autism.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 84 people in 14 states were diagnosed with measles from Jan. 1 through Jan. 28. Most were infected either at Disneyland or by someone who went there.

Controlling a measles outbreak is expensive and time-consuming. Each case in a 2008 measles outbreak cost taxpayers more than $10,000 as public health staff traced each patient’s contacts, quarantined patients and administered vaccines.

Now apply the same language to those in Victoria who plan to fight for their right to drink unpasteurized milk today (it’s Saturday in Australia) despite one death and four serious illnesses in children under five-years-old, announced in Dec. and linked to consumption of raw milk.

Three of the four children – all under five — developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, usually associated with shiga-toxin producing E. coli, such as E. coli O157, and the other developed cryptosporidiosis.

The death was attributed to HUS. How many others developed milder forms of illness is unknown.

Rebecca Freer, who is planning the drink-in outside a state Minister’s office in Melbourne, said exactly what anti-vaxxers would say: “I think they’re in denial that there’s a large subculture of raw milk drinkers, who are well-informed, educated people.”

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.

1418367700411Biology, 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.

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 selectively spin scientific data. Does the Internet inform or merely solidify pre-existing beliefs?

Ten years ago, Ontario’s former chief medical health officer (that’s in Canada), 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.

1 toddler dead, 4 sick, so protesters will demand raw milk be sold for drinking in Victoria

Just weeks after health types in the Australian state of Victoria (that’s where Melbourne is) declared a three-year-old had died and four other children sickened from consuming raw milk, natural types are planning a drink-in Saturday to get even more unpasteurized milk on store shelves.

Spew milkThree of the four children – all under five — developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, usually associated with shiga-toxin producing E. coli, such as E. coli O157, and the other developed cryptosporidiosis.

How many others developed milder forms of illness is unknown.

In response to the outbreak in early Dec., Victoria Consumer Affairs Minister Jane Garrett ordered a gag-inducing chemical to be poured into all raw milk sold in stores from Sunday, ensuring no one is able to drink it (raw milk is legally sold as bath milk, side-by-side with pasteurized milk; that would be an expensive bath).

The move has apparently infuriated food activists, who are now planning a protest on Saturday to demand that the unpasteurized product be made available for drinking.

The government’s approach so far has been a very knee-jerk reaction,” said organic food store owner Rebecca Freer, who is planning the “drink-in” outside the minister’s Brunswick East office.

I think they’re in denial that there’s a large subculture of raw milk drinkers, who are well-informed, educated people.”

The Australian Raw Milk Movement is encouraging people to “BYO cup” and drink raw milk outside Garrett’s office.

Supporters of drinking unprocessed milk like Ms Freer dispute the product’s link with the child’s death and instead stress the supposed health benefits from consuming a natural product.

colbert.raw.milkBut they never mention the other kids who developed HUS.

“It’s our consumer right to define what we eat and drink,” she said. “Australia is really backwards on this issue.”

After being contacted by Guardian Australia, Freer posted to the Australian Raw Milk Movement’s Facebook wall that she had been contacted by journalists and that “the fight is on.”

“I think it is fair to say we are in the midst of a violent resistance,” she wrote.

Nutritionist Arabella Forge, who will speak at Saturday’s protest, said current food safety laws could be amended to get raw milk on store shelves without compromising food safety.

“What we’re really asking for is a system of regulation that supports safe, raw milk,” she said. “People should have access to this product.”

CSIRO research microbiologists Narelle Fegan and Edward Fox, who have studied raw milk safety on Victorian farms, have both warned against drinking raw milk, even from farms with the highest of standards.

“When the milk comes out of the animal it should be sterile, but then it’s immediately contaminated by its environment,” Dr Fegan said. “When things go wrong they can go wrong pretty badly with people getting seriously ill.”

Dr Fox said there was no evidence that raw milk was more nutritious – a common claim made by raw milk supporters.

“Pasteurised milk is as nutritional as raw milk and it has, due to the pasteurisation process, a lower associated risk,” he said.

Victoria’s chief health officer, Dr Rosemary Lester, has also stood behind her recent raw milk health warnings.

Ms Garrett defended her decision to add a bittering agent to raw milk on Thursday, saying it’s meant to prevent illness and death.

“The actions we have taken are designed to stop people from putting themselves and their children at risk,” she said.

Meanwhile, in Adelaide, South Australia, a court heard a temperature rise in samples taken from a farm owned by a couple being prosecuted for selling unpasteurised milk to when it was tested would have caused a “marginal” rise in bacteria readings.

santa.barf.sprout.raw.milkMoo View Dairy owners Mark and Helen Tyler, who on Wednesday brought a cow to the front of the court building, are contesting charges of breaching the food act by selling the raw milk commercially.

The couple have been operating a “House Cow Share Scheme” where people can buy shares in one of their cows which entitles them to a percentage of the milk produced by the herd.

The raw milk was also found to have higher than the legally acceptable amount of bacteria — leading to one of the two counts of selling food in contravention of the food standards code against them in April and May, 2013.

In cross examination on Thursday, SA Dairy Authority general manager John Crosby said that rise would only have had a “marginal affect” on the milk’s bacteria count.

Mr Tyler and shareholder Rachel Tyson, who on Wednesday came to court dressed in a cow suit in a sign of support for the couple, are expected to give evidence on Friday.

Surveys still suck, but for fun, more Americans want to ban unpasteurized milk than marijuana

It’s not hard to imagine: milk fiends buying illegal, unpasteurized milk in darkened back alleys. Shady dealers running shipments of raw milk across the Mexican-American border. A high-speed police chase down I-95, the suspects tossing gallons of unpasteurized milk out the window in a frantic effort to ditch the evidence.

marketbAn underground black market for unpasteurized milk like the kind that exists for marijuana is, of course, absurd. But it’s still fun to imagine, because more Americans today want to ban the sale of raw milk than marijuana, according to a recent study. Some 59% of Americans support a ban on the sale of raw, unpasteurized milk, while just 47% support a ban on the sale of marijuana, according to Oklahoma State University’s Food Demand Survey. The U.S. currently has a patchwork of different laws regarding raw milk. States like New York and Iowa ban the retail sale of raw milk, while California and Idaho permit it.

Portlandia gets raw as they expose the FDA’s lies (it’s satire)

Things are about to get raw on Portlandia.

Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein- Photo Credit: Augusta Quirk/IFCIn the words of Candace and Toni: If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention to the lies that the FDA is feeding you about the joys of raw milk.

This week, Brendan (Fred Armisen) and Michelle (Carrie Brownstein) were feeling lethargic, sluggish and generally under the weather until they discovered that raw milk is a miracle cure-all. A miracle that the FDA is trying to prevent you from enjoying! Check out this clip as they storm a doctor’s (Ed Begley Jr.) office to spread the truth about raw milk.

Campylobacter: Raw milk from Washington creamery recalled

Some batches of raw milk from the Old Silvana Creamery in Arlington are being recalled out of concern they may be contaminated with Campylobacter.

Old Silvana CreameryThe recall affects raw milk from the farm with expiration dates of Jan. 23 and Jan. 24, according to Jim Sinnema, who manages the farm.

The milk is sold in 15 stores in Western Washington. The creamery produces several hundred gallons of raw milk a week, he said.

The recall, announced Monday evening, was launched after an independent lab discovered Campylobacter in a routine weekly sample sent to a laboratory for testing, Sinnema said. It had an expiration date of Jan. 23. As a precaution, raw milk from Old Silvana Creamery with an expiration date of Jan. 24 also was recalled, Sinnema said.

Raw milk risks: a science perspective from Europe

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concludes that raw milk can carry harmful bacteria that can cause serious illness. Implementing current good hygiene practices at farms is essential to reduce raw milk contamination, while maintaining the cold chain is also important to prevent or slow the growth of bacteria in raw milk. However, these practices alone do not eliminate these risks. Boiling raw milk before consumption is the best way to kill many of the bacteria that can make people sick.

Spew milkConsumer interest in drinking raw milk has been growing in the European Union (EU) as many people believe it has health benefits. Under EU hygiene rules, Member States can prohibit or restrict the placing on the market of raw milk intended for human consumption. Sale of raw drinking milk through vending machines is permitted in some Member States, but consumers are usually instructed to boil the milk before consumption.

In their scientific opinion on public health risks associated with raw milk in the EU, experts from EFSA’s Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ) conclude that raw milk can be a source of harmful bacteria – mainly Campylobacter, Salmonella, and Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC).

The Panel could not quantify the public health risks associated with drinking raw milk in the EU due to data gaps. However, according to Member State data on food-borne disease outbreaks, between 2007 and 2013, 27 outbreaks were due to the consumption of raw milk.

Most of them – 21 – were caused by Campylobacter, one was caused by Salmonella, two by STEC and three by tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV).  A large majority of the outbreaks were due to raw cow’s milk, while a few of them originated from raw goat’s milk.

“There is a need for improved communication to consumers on the hazards and control measures associated with consumption of raw drinking milk,” says John Griffin, Chair of the BIOHAZ Panel.

Infants, children, pregnant women, old people and those with a weakened immune system have a higher risk of falling ill from drinking raw milk.  


Raw drinking milk (RDM) has a diverse microbial flora which can include pathogens transmissible to humans. The main microbiological hazards associated with RDM from cows, sheep and goats, horses and donkeys and camels were identified using a decision tree approach.

raw.milkThis considered evidence of milk-borne infection and the hazard being present in the European Union (EU), the impact of the hazard on human health and whether there was evidence for RDM as an important risk factor in the EU.

The main hazards were Campylobacter spp., Salmonella spp., shigatoxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC), Brucella melitensis, Mycobacterium bovis and tick-borne encephalitis virus, and there are clear links between drinking raw milk and human illness associated with these hazards.

A quantitative microbiological risk assessment for these hazards could not be undertaken because country and EU-wide data are limited. Antimicrobial resistance has been reported in several EU countries in some of the main bacterial hazards isolated from raw milk or associated equipment and may be significant for public health. Sale of RDM through vending machines is permitted in some EU countries, although consumers purchasing such milk are usually instructed to boil the milk before consumption, which would eliminate microbiological risks. With respect to internet sales of RDM, there is a need for microbiological, temperature and storage time data to assess the impact of this distribution route. Intrinsic contamination of RDM with pathogens can arise from animals with systemic infection as well as from localised infections such as mastitis.

Raw-Milk-Card-FrontExtrinsic contamination can arise from faecal contamination and from the wider farm environment. It was not possible to rank control options as no single step could be identified which would significantly reduce risk relative to a baseline of expected good practice, although potential for an increase in risk was also noted. Improved risk communication to consumers is recommended.


Following a request from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the EFSA Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ) was asked to deliver a scientific opinion on the public health risks related to the consumption of raw drinking milk (RDM). In particular, the BIOHAZ Panel was requested to identify the main microbiological hazards of public health significance that may occur in RDM from different animal species, to assess the public health risk arising from the consumption of RDM, to assess the likelihood of RDM being a significant source of antimicrobial resistant bacteria/resistance genes, to assess the additional risks associated with the sale of RDM through vending machines and via the internet and to identify and rank potential control options to reduce public health risks arising from consumption of RDM.

According to European Union (EU) legislation, “raw milk” is defined as milk produced by the secretion of the mammary gland of farmed animals that has not been heated to more than 40 °C or undergone any treatment that has an equivalent effect (Regulation (EC) No 853/2004). A top-down four-step decision tree was used to identify the main microbiological hazards associated with RDM of different milk-producing species in the EU. Microbiological hazards that can be transmitted to humans through milk and which were reported from cows, sheep and goats, horses and donkeys and camels in the EU were listed. Those hazards which could be transmitted via milk but were not reported from milk-producing animals in the EU were excluded from further consideration. Microbiological hazards identified as potentially transmissible through milk and present in the EU milk-producing animal population included the bacteria Campylobacter spp. (thermophilic), Salmonella spp., shigatoxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC), Bacillus cereus, Brucella abortus, Brucella melitensis, Listeria monocytogenes, Mycobacterium bovis, Staphylococcus aureus, Yersinia enterocolitica, Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, Corynebacterium spp., Streptococcus suis subsp. zooepidemicus,the parasites Toxoplasma gondii and Cryptosporidium parvum and the virus tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV). Those hazards transmissible via milk of one species and present in the EU were also considered to be potentially transmissible by milk of other species if present in the EU.

napoleon milkEvidence for RDM as an important risk factor for human infection in the EU was based on epidemiological evidence that the hazard has been associated with illness from the consumption of RDM in the EU, the extent of occurrence of the hazard in different milk-producing species in the EU, the prevalence of the hazard in milk bulk tanks or retail RDM in the EU, and expert opinion. Between 2007 and 2012 there were 27 reported outbreaks in the EU involving RDM. Of these, 21 were attributed to Campylobacter spp., predominantly C. jejuni, one to Salmonella Typhimurium, two to STEC and three to TBEV. Four of the 27 outbreaks were due to raw milk from goats, the rest being attributed to raw milk from cows. The published literature was also considered, which highlighted additional outbreaks of TBEV and outbreaks of B. melitensis, M. bovis and STEC, although some of these were prior to 2007. No outbreaks attributable to L. monocytogenes in RDM were reported between 2007 and 2012.

STEC, Salmonella spp. and Campylobacter spp. are essentially ubiquitous pathogens and are likely to be found in milk-producing animals and their milk throughout the EU, as indicated by prevalence data from raw milk testing. TBEV was also considered to be a main hazard based on outbreak data, together with evidence of spread in Europe and the virus being detected in raw milk. B. melitensis and M. bovis have been associated with outbreaks involving raw milk, but these are less common and more geographically restricted than the other pathogens and control programmes in Europe have generally been successful in reducing human disease from these pathogens.

For other hazards, epidemiological evidence of illness was either historical or limited to reports from outside Europe. L. monocytogenes infection is associated with a high mortality rate in vulnerable groups, and the organism was as frequent as Campylobacter and STEC in raw milk. The lack of robust epidemiological data (including outbreaks) linking listeriosis to consumption of raw milk in Europe meant that it could not be considered a main hazard. The ability of L. monocytogenes to grow at chill temperatures, coupled with its prevalence in raw milk, suggests that further study in relation to RDM may be justified, particularly as several risk assessment models outside Europe have already been developed for this pathogen.

colbert.raw.milkThere is a clear link between drinking raw milk and human illness with Campylobacter spp., S. Typhimurium, STEC, TBEV, B. melitensis and M. bovis, with the potential for severe health consequences in some individual patients. Owing to the lack of epidemiological data, the burden of disease linked to the consumption of raw milk could not be assessed. Published quantitative microbiological risk assessment (QMRA) models from Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Italy, for Salmonella spp., Campylobacter spp., STEC O157 and L. monocytogenes in RDM from cows, were reviewed to identify their strengths and limitations. No QMRAs were available for RDM of other species. The risk estimates provided by the QMRA models reviewed cannot be extrapolated to the European situation as a whole. The outputs from the Australian and New Zealand risk assessments for STEC O157 and Salmonella spp. estimate a high level of milk contamination, which contrasts with the outputs from the risk assessment for these pathogens in RDM in one region of northern Italy, where the risk associated with STEC O157 was estimated as very low because of model uncertainty. Similarly, the Australian and New Zealand risk assessments predicted a higher risk for Campylobacter spp. than the risk assessment conducted in one region of northern Italy, largely as a result of differences in the extent of faecal contamination. From the model used in the Australian study it can be concluded that improving on-farm hygiene leads to a decrease in the number of predicted cases of illness due to Campylobacter spp., Salmonella spp. and STEC O157 from the consumption of RDM. A QMRA could have helped in further estimating the public health risks and evaluating the effect of the mitigation options in Europe for these hazards, but could not be undertaken because country and EU-wide data are limited.

Antimicrobial resistance has been reported in several EU countries in isolates of Campylobacter spp., Salmonella spp., STEC and S. aureus from raw milk or associated equipment such as milk filters, and may be significant for public health. Such isolates have been primarily associated with raw milk from bovine animals, which may reflect the more limited screening of milk from other species. Strains of Campylobacter spp., and particularly C. jejuni, exhibiting resistance predominantly to tetracyclines but also to some other antimicrobials have been reported in two Member States (MS). There have been no reports of antimicrobial resistance in isolates of Salmonella spp. from outbreaks associated with raw/unpasteurised in the EU in countries other than the UK. In the USA, there has been a report of a raw milk-associated outbreak caused by multidrug-resistant (MDR) S. Typhimurium, with a single fatality ascribed to resistance of the organism to antibiotics. Despite STEC O157 being the organism most commonly associated with RDM-related outbreaks of STEC gastrointestinal illness in several EU countries, little information is available about the occurrence of antimicrobial resistance in such outbreak strains. Antimicrobial resistance has been reported in a water buffalo raw milk-associated STEC O26 outbreak in one MS in 2008 and in raw milk-associated STEC outbreaks in the USA. Antimicrobial resistance in isolates of L. monocytogenes from raw milk and raw milk dairy products has only rarely been reported in EU countries.

Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has not been isolated during outbreaks of infection associated with RDM in EU countries. Although not typically regarded as a food-borne pathogen, there have been increasing reports of the isolation of MRSA from dairy farms and bulk tank milk in several EU MS. Although identified in E. coli in bovine animals in some MS, extended spectrum beta lactamase (ESBL)/AmpC gene-carrying bacteria have not been reported in RDM in EU MS. In the USA, a range of Salmonella serovars with ESBL/AmpC genes have been identified in raw milk surveys.

Sale of RDM through vending machines is permitted in some EU MS, with considerable variation in the number of machines in different countries. There is little indication of RDM other than cow’s milk being sold through vending machines. Although vending machines dispense drinking milk in a raw state, consumers are usually instructed to boil the milk prior to consumption. If consumers were to comply with these instructions, the microbiological risks associated with raw milk would be eliminated. The temperature of RDM in vending machines is generally kept below 4 °C and therefore variability in milk temperature is more likely to arise between the farm and vending machine and between the vending machine and point of consumption by the consumer. One study in Italy demonstrated that temperature variability in the supply chain from farm to consumer could potentially result in the multiplication of L. monocytogenes, S. Typhimurium and STECO157:H7.

Fresh and frozen RDM of different species (cows, goats, sheep and camels) is available via internet sales although there are no data on the microbiological or temperature controls for these milks from the bulk milk tank through to the point of consumption. The variability in temperature control and duration of storage by consumers would contribute to the multiplication of some pathogens if these are present in the milk.

The steps in the production to consumption chain for RDM present many opportunities for contamination by microorganisms, some of which may be transmissible to humans. Intrinsic contamination of milk can arise from systemic infection in the milk-producing animal as well as from localised infections, such as mastitis. Extrinsic contamination of milk can arise from faecal contamination and from the wider farm environment associated with collection and storage of milk. Observance of good animal health and husbandry, together with the application of good agricultural practices (GAPs) and good hygienic practices (GHPs), are essential to minimise opportunities for contamination of RDM with pathogens in the production to consumption chain for RDM. No single step could be identified which would provide a significant reduction in risk relative to a baseline of expected good animal health and welfare and good agricultural and hygienic practices. Therefore, it was not possible to rank control options with respect to risk reduction since any deviations from the expected “best practice” baseline are likely to result in an increase in risk.

The reviewed QMRA models identified on-farm hygiene control and maintenance of the cold chain as factors influencing the outcome of the models for some pathogens. Although L. monocytogenes is not considered to be one of the main hazards associated with RDM in the EU, the reviewed QMRAs from outside the EU do show that the risk associated with L. monocytogenes in raw cow’s milk can be mitigated and reduced significantly if the cold chain is well controlled, the shelf-life of raw milk is limited to a few days and there is consumer compliance with these measures/controls.

The BIOHAZ Panel identified several recommendations arising from the opinion. There is a need for a better evidence base to inform future prioritisation and ranking approaches and studies should be undertaken to systematically collect data for source attribution for the hazards identified as associated with RDM and collect data to identify and rank emerging milk-borne hazards. Because of the diverse range of potential microbiological hazards associated with different milk-producing animals, hazard identification should be revisited regularly. There is a need for validated growth and survival models for pathogens in RDM of different milk-producing species, particularly in relation to the temperature and storage time of RDM from the producer up to the point of consumption. Finally, the Panel recommended that there should be improved risk communication to consumers, particularly susceptible/high risk populations, regarding the hazards and control methods associated with consumption of RDM.

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.”


Salmonella and listeria and raw milk

Two quantitative risk assessment (RA) models were developed to describe the risk of salmonellosis and listeriosis linked to consumption of raw milk sold in vending machines in Italy.

colbert.raw.milkExposure assessment considered the official microbiological records monitoring raw milk samples from vending machines performed by the regional veterinary authorities from 2008 to 2011, microbial growth during storage, destruction experiments, consumption frequency of raw milk, serving size, and consumption preference.

Two separate RA models were developed: one for the consumption of boiled milk and the other for the consumption of raw milk. The RA models predicted no human listeriosis cases per year either in the best or worst storage conditions and with or without boiling raw milk, whereas the annual estimated cases of salmonellosis depend on the dose-response relationships used in the model, the milk storage conditions, and consumer behavior in relation to boiling raw milk or not.

For example, the estimated salmonellosis cases ranged from no expected cases, assuming that the entire population boiled milk before consumption, to a maximum of 980,128 cases, assuming that the entire population drank raw milk without boiling, in the worst milk storage conditions, and with the lowest dose-response model.

The findings of this study clearly show how consumer behavior could affect the probability and number of salmonellosis cases and in general, the risk of illness. Hence, the proposed RA models emphasize yet again that boiling milk before drinking is a simple yet effective tool to protect consumers against the risk of illness inherent in the consumption of raw milk.

The models may also offer risk managers a useful tool to identify or implement appropriate measures to control the risk of acquiring foodborne pathogens. Quantification of the risks associated with raw milk consumption is necessary from a public health perspective.


Quantitative risk assessment of human salmonellosis and listeriosis related to the consumption of raw milk in Italy

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 1, January 2015, pp. 4-234, pp. 13-21(9)

Giacometti, Federica; Bonilauri, Paolo; Albonetti, Sabrina; Amatiste, Simonetta; Arrigoni, Norma; Bianchi, Manila; Bertasi, Barbara; Bilei, Stefano; Bolzoni, Giuseppe; Cascone, Giuseppe; Comin, Damiano; Daminelli, Paolo; Decastelli, Lucia; Merialdi, Giuseppe; Mioni, Renzo; Peli, Angelo; Petruzzelli, Annalisa; Tonucci, Franco; Bonerba, Elisabetta; Serraino, Andrea

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.”