Vulto Cheese Outbreak Highlights Deafness of Our Health Elites and Media

The tragic Vulto Creamery raw cheese outbreak, being blamed for two deaths and six illnesses from listeriosis, comes at an auspicious time.

It comes at a time when many states are considering expanding access to raw milk. I have been contacted by proponents of one state’s legislative proposals, wondering how to respond to likely concerns raised by legislators who have read about the Vulto outbreak.

It also comes at a time when the media are under a microscope for their reporting on politically-charged issues. Raw dairy certainly qualifies as a politically charged issue, and the media haven’t done much to add value or  provide clarity to this particular situation.

In terms of media reporting on the Vulto outbreak, the best that can be said is that many of the media, like CNN and CBS News, have not been hysterical in their reporting, with some simply noting that a maker of raw milk cheese has recalled its cheese. However, I have yet to find a single media report explaining that the regulation of raw milk cheese is separate from that of fluid raw milk—that raw milk cheese has been sanctioned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration since 1949 via its 60-day aging requirement, while fluid raw milk is regulated at the state level. Thus, raw milk cheese can be transported freely across state lines and sold at retail food outlets. Raw milk can’t be legally shipped around the country to be sold at retail; it can only be sold at retail within the state where it is produced, if explicitly allowed in state laws and regulations.

One of the big reasons the FDA’s permissiveness on raw milk cheese has worked so well is that there have been very few illnesses and deaths associated with raw milk cheese over the last nearly 70 years, to the extent that the FDA last summer concluded a long-term investigation into raw milk cheeses without recommending changes to the 60-day aging requirement.  Aging cheese for 60 days has long been thought to allow any pathogens present in the milk to die off.

The worst example of reporting on the Vulto outbreak came from a pillar of the mainstream media, the NY Times. It assigned a reporter to write about the outbreak, presumably because Vulto is based in NY state. The NY Times article was terribly misleading, apparently confusing raw milk cheese and fluid raw milk by suggesting that safety concerns have been an urgent issue for raw milk cheese, when that hasn’t been the case. It also found someone in the cheese industry to say the FDA’s 60-day aging rule should be re-considered—this after the artisanal cheese industry had fought for several years to finally get the FDA to back off plans to undermine the 60-day aging rule.

Of course, none of the publications, including the NY Times, made mention of the fact that pasteurized soft cheeses have had a number of highly publicized safety problems, such as this one out of California two years ago. Nor did they point out that the listeria contaminating the Vulto Creamery’s cheese likely came from facilities contamination rather than a problem with the raw milk, and thus is probably isolated, requiring strong action by Vulto.

I have to think it was the NY Times article that inspired hysteria elsewhere. For example, an organization called the American Council on Science and Health published an article about the Vulto outbreak: “Like Russian Roulette? Try Raw Milk”. The scientist author clearly had no idea that the FDA has sanctioned raw milk cheese since 1949, with few illnesses. I pointed this out on the site, and was shouted down by ideologues who are similarly ignorant, or willfully blind, to the regulatory facts of the matter.

There was this article on a foodie site: “Should We Avoid Eating Raw Milk Cheese Altogether?” Food hysteria 101.

Back to the auspicious timing, over the last couple weeks I’ve had the privilege of participating in an intensive discussion involving more than 40 classmates of mine from the Columbia Journalism School’s class of 1969 (our class was about 100 students). The spark for the discussion came when one of my classmates who wanted to prod the school to take a public stance protesting President Trump’s  assaults and threats against journalists. Getting a bunch of journalists to agree on anything is a monumental task, akin to herding cats, but my classmates have come together, with just a few dissenters, and petitioned the school. The school’s dean, Stephen Coll, has agreed to examine how the school might take journalists’ concerns public.

We’ve also had a provocative discussion about how the mainstream media could have become such a major political scapegoat. That is, how is it that Trump has been able to make so much political hay from channeling resentment to gain popularity by lambasting the media?

A number of my classmates have expressed confusion about why so many people have accepted so easily Trump’s pokes at the media, in light of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment and America’s long tradition of press freedom. Some have pointed to the growing economic disparities that have developed over the last 30 years, and that the media have catered more to the economic “haves” than the “have-nots.”

To me, this particular raw milk cheese outbreak highlights part of the challenge confronting the media. Here, as in many other areas of food and agriculture, the media give precedence to the “official” explanations from government apologists—the CDC and FDA, along with the medical and scientific establishments that back the bureaucrats up. When the government apologists stick with same tired information and guidance and refuse to  help the public understand, for example, that there are important differences between raw milk cheese and fluid raw milk, the media simply parrots the propaganda. Which is a sad commentary on both.

25 comments to Vulto Cheese Outbreak Highlights Deafness of Our Health Elites and Media

  • Nice writing David,

    As you know, I emailed Vulto cheese last week. to inquire as to the vat temps they use to make their cheese. So many of the so called “raw cheeses ” are not really raw at all. They are instead thermalized to temps much higher than 100 F but just under Official FDA sanctioned pasteurization temps of 165 F degrees or so. I even found one raw cheese that was cooked to 175 degrees….but because the facility did not have a state issued pasteurizer permit…..it was not officially pasteurized. And the brand claimed it was “raw”. This is fake, misleading and a food lie. This is at the very heart of food and farming ethics 101.

    This is a huge thing…..raw milk looses so much of its listeria resistance when it is heated. Study after study tell us this story!!

    I have yet to hear back from Vulto. I would suggest that Vulto is using very poor form in its handling of consumers. During an outbreak it is critical to be open and honest with consumers. If not….the brand will pay the long term price.

    As far as Trump is concerned, I can not get over how he treated the German Prime Minister during the resent meeting, he refused to shake her hand even though journalists yelled at him to shake her hand….Merkel even asked him to shake hands….all he did was look around the room like an autistic dumb ass making weird expressions on his face. .

    I am so embarrassed for America. As far as I am concerned….those that voted for him are just as blindly stupid as he is. You are known by whom you surround yourself and who you vote for…

  • Gordon S Watson

    with repetition, a propensity becomes a bad habit, then a vice. Example gratia = Mister McAffee’s tradeMark : the non-sequitor lurch from hard science, to soft-headed claptrap … apparently crypto-communism pre-disposes to early onset Alzheimer’s

    After Watergate, it was nigh impossible to find anyone who’d admit to having voted for Richard Nixon, even though he won by a landslide. When the Grand Jury comes down with its indictment of H. Clinton, it’ll be most amusing to see who’s NOT embarrassed to say they voted for her!

  • Ken Conrad Ken Conrad

    David,

    You stated, “A number of my classmates have expressed confusion about why so many people have accepted so easily Trump’s pokes at the media, in light of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment and America’s long tradition of press freedom.”

    This negative attitude towards the media has been brewing for a long time. Many prominent individuals, who have long since left this world, have expressed discontent and frustration with the media… Indeed, long before Donald Trump ever came onto the scene. It’s an ongoing phenomenon related to established institutions (religious, political, medical) that become too powerful for their own good.

    Much of that confusion expressed by your classmates could easily be cleared up if they were to consider and answer this observation and pointed question by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn… “Such as it is, the press has become the greatest power within the Western World, more powerful than the legislature, the executive and judiciary. One would like to ask; by whom has it been elected and to whom is it responsible?” Indeed and based on what moral and philosophical persuasion???

    Malcolm X parallels Solzhenitsyn statement with this sobering and frightful thought, “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses”. Is this not what they are attempting to do with Vulto cheese and raw milk in general?

    As the saying goes, “With great power comes great responsibility”. And, with respect to the media all one needs to do is, “follow the money” and determine “who butters its bread on both sides” in order to determine where it’s responsibilities lie.

    • David Gumpert David Gumpert

      Wish it were so, Ken, about the media’s power and riches. The reality is that Solzhenitsyn and Malcolm X were referring to media influence in another age. Today, the so-called mainstream media–newspapers and television broadcasters–are shells of their former selves. They’ve all had to undergo huge layoffs and other cutbacks in response to competition from social media and huge technology companies (like google, apple, etc.). Yes, just follow the money:

      For newspapers, “print ad revenues have fallen from $44.9 billion in 2003 to just $16.4 billion in 2014, while digital ad revenues—$3.5 billion in 2014—have barely budged since 2006.”

      http://news.wgbh.org/2016/01/26/local-news/print-dying-digital-no-savior-long-ugly-decline-newspaper-business-continues

      Here’s another article from a few years ago chronicling the same trend:

      https://www.theguardian.com/media/2011/aug/14/robert-levine-digital-free-ride

      Part of my point is that one reason the media has experienced declines in readership and advertising has to do with the its coziness with government apologists, its inclination not to take seriously the experiences of ordinary people.

      As for Trump, he is going after media in decline. He’s not being critical for its failure to root out the truth. As with many things he criticizes, reality isn’t really the point. It’s about votes and popularity, and so long as pummeling the media keeps the troops pumped and distracted from the mounting evidence of incompetence and corruption, he’ll keep doing it.

  • Bora Petski

    Also, look up the difference between recent and resent. And stick with milk, not politics.

  • Bora Petski

    “an autistic dumb ass making weird expressions” sounds a lot like you these days. Sorry but that’s my overall perception, change it.

  • Bora Petski

    Just to make it clear, my comment was to Mark not David.

  • Mark Mcafee Mark Mcafee

    Bora,

    Which state do you live in? My suspicion is that is someplace in the Midwest. Your attitude is so much like the others that I know that live there.

    On the east and west coasts there is a different attitude about Trump and the direction he is attempting to take our country. Trust me….I am not leaving politics anytime soon.

    • Bora Petski

      Mark, I think I’ve told you this before but there’s so much noise around here it’s hard to remember what you heard. I live in the hardest to crack state of mind of Massachusetts, just a couple of miles from our local raw milk provider. The truth is somewhere in the middle but you have recently become an extremist mental manipulator. Attitude is what I’d call bias, as you so obviously have it in for Sir Donald. Back off, and look around – having Hillary in the cozy white office would just mean more of the same sameness we’ve all grown tired of to despise, and now overwhelmingly chose to dump discarded. Let’s see what happens next. Don’t assume, you know what they say.

  • Mark Mcafee Mark Mcafee

    Autistic dumb ass is a compliment. He is so much lower than that. When you lose your medical care and your house from bankruptcy you will regret your vote. Medical care is the highest ranked reason for American Bankruptcy.

  • Mark mcafee Mark mcafee

    Total BS. Hilary would not have taken us into this mess with the Russians!!!

    You Republicans have a real problem of your own making. I hope you listened carefully to the congressional hearings today.

    In 2016 we were attacked by the Russians. That attack is continuing today. A criminal investigation is ongoing to dig up the truth of the Trump connections. There are so many. So deep and so pervasive. $500 million dollar contract with Tillerson and Russia??? Payoffs being sent to the Cayman Islands?? Need I go on.

    This is the end for Trump…. The end is near. Yet, he defends his tweets about Obama wire taps during his campaign, even though there is not one shred of meager evidence. Just in his little conspiracy making sicko narcissistic mind.

    Trump is the biggest pile of stinky crap this country has ever seen.

    • David Gumpert David Gumpert

      From today’s NYTimes, after FBI director’s testimony:

      “Mr. Comey placed a criminal investigation at the doorstep of the White House and said agents would pursue it ‘no matter how long that takes.’ ”

      https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/20/us/politics/fbi-investigation-trump-russia-comey.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=a-lede-package-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

      • Ken Conrad Ken Conrad

        I’ll take this article with a huge grain of salt David,

        The establishment in Washington wields a great deal of power. If they can’t control you they’ll destroy you. History does not speak kindly of FBI, CIA and NSA methods and exploits!

        To be perfectly blunt, I don’t know who in the hell to believe. What I can say with certainty, despite all the oaths of office that these people in authority take, is that I wouldn’t trust any of them any further then I could through them.

        If Trump colluded with the Russians then shame on him… However, until that is a proven fact, this ongoing “guilty until proven innocent” narrative on the topic by the media is demoralizing and destructive.

        The establishment in the US has a great deal to be ashamed of for actively attempting to destabilize governments in other countries. Indeed, what comes around goes around and at the moment your country is in the latter stage of biting itself in the ass.

        What’s happening in your country and other countries around the world is much bigger then Donald Trump. Trump is merely a tool that the people in your country used to revolt against the corrupt oppressive status quo.

        You Americans had better seriously consider these words by John F Kennedy; “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable”.

  • Bora Petski

    For the record I am not a Republican or a Democrat call me independent unaffiliated. And again I’d suggest Mark to get off his high horse and stop being negative about people he doesn’t like. Try honey instead of vinegar and see the proof in the pudding, no way to know how many of your customers read this site but I’d guess you are likely losing more customers than you gain with your political slant comments

  • mark mcafee mark mcafee

    Bora,

    You may be right about staying neutral-vanilla-grey when selling a brand. However…I will not sell my soul or my country in the trade. When it is time to stand…I stand or you stand for nothing. Now is the time to take a stand and mean it. Trump is a traitor, a cheat, a liar and worse. When our president pisses off our closest allies ( Australia, UK, Sweden and Germany and all of NATO and UN ) our media and our intelligence agencies and says he knows more than our generals!!! and never has anything but praise for the Russians. There is a rat and I can smell it. He is done and the sooner we get rid of him the better. This is not a political thing, this is a humanity thing.

    From our last sales numbers…does not appear that my humanity based politics are hurting the brand much. Just hit all time sales high record. I love all and serve all. Trump loves nothing but money and himself. He is incapable of love or true charity. His heart is cold and his soul is rotten. He would stand by and let millions starve in a heartbeat. He said so much in his press release last week by defunding foreign aide. If you want a stable world at peace….you export care, food, concern, assistance and humanity. If you want a world that hates your guts….starve everyone but yourself and “take their oil for free”.

    • Ken Conrad Ken Conrad

      “To take a stand and mean it” Mark is admirable, demonstrating ill-mannered contempt for Donald Trump and his supporters/your President and fellow citizens will do little more then nurture animosity and undermine your humanitarian objective… It’s disheartening to see this other side of you.

  • Ken Conrad Ken Conrad

    Idaho Senate Bill 1182 = top down government and medical tyranny at its best…

    http://healthfreedomidaho.org/sb-1182-passed-the-peoples-voice-shut-down

  • John Dutcher

    Here we go again, could we please,please,please stick to raw milk issues on THIS site. I am so flipping sick and tired of political crap, if you want to talk politics please take it to a political blog, please. Much more of this and I am done with this website.
    John Dutcher

  • John Dutcher

    Also, David, just so you know I have been following your website for several years, not sure how many years now, old age setting in. And most of the time i find this website educational,inspiring and just plain fun seeing so many people drinking raw milk as I have for a good portion of my life( I will be 63 in a couple months)and discussing raw milk cheeses, etc. I just want you to know David this is getting to be exasperating!!
    John Dutcher

  • Ken Conrad Ken Conrad

    The following article states, “Among the questions around US President Donald Trump’s foreign policy, one stands out: What is the future of US relations with Russia? So far, Trump and members of his national security team have provided vague and at times contradictory replies. What the new administration needs to do first is decide how to clearly describe Russia. The administration of Barack Obama never made up its mind in that regard. On occasions, such as the circus around the Iran nuclear dossier and the dodgeball Obama played on Syria, Russia was described as “our partner” by both Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry”.
    http://www.arabnews.com/node/1048346

    Since when is there clarity in politics???

    Perhaps you Americans should consider the possibility that Putin is toying with your ego, in order to purposely nurture division in your country…

    The above article makes reference to the Monroe Doctrine, “a U.S. policy of opposing European colonialism in the Americas beginning in 1823, which stated, “that further efforts by European nations to take control of any independent state in North or South America would be viewed as “the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.” At the same time, the doctrine noted that the U.S. would recognize and not interfere with existing European colonies nor meddle in the internal concerns of European countries.” Yeah right… and that really happened!!!

  • mark mcafee mark mcafee

    http://www.dairyreporter.com/Manufacturers/Vinamilk-farm-first-to-achieve-EU-organic-standard-in-Vietnam

    So much for the “domino theory and communism taking over the world”. It seems pretty stupid now looking back over the last 60 years. We spent billions of tax payers dollars to kill millions of Vietnamese in an effort to stop north Vietnam…but now they are one of our most favored trading partners. Money stupidly spent!!!!

    Today, they are introducing organic milk ( with EU and USDA standards applied ) to their citizens. They just spent $8.7 million to build a gorgeous organic dairy and creamery facility with bottling plant.

  • Gordon S Watson

    the report on The Bovine, about the latest round of the govt. of Ontari-ario versus Michael Schmidt, makes for interesting reading.
    https://thebovine.wordpress.com/2017/03/16/farmer-michael-schmidt-reports-on-the-obstruction-trial-of-the-five-accused-in-walkerton/#more-38155

    one factoid substantiating the pattern of him being persecuted by the Province de Ontari-ari-o, is ; the part about detective Ken McPherson ‘having deleted emails internal to the police, in order to frustrate a Freedom of Information demand’. If that’s true, then someone may have to go back there and lay a Private Information charging him with “obstruction of Justice”.

    as so often happens ; the coverup becomes the story

    • Ken Conrad Ken Conrad

      “It must be fun working for the Government: you get paid and it doesn’t matter if you doing something wrong or not.”

      It may be fun for some to get paid to lord it over others, an ego-inflating, conscience numbing scenario that tends to undermine a person’s ability to exercise prudent and rational thought/behavior and that in turn nurtures an inability to distinguish right from wrong… In essence, they themselves are entrapped and little more then slaves, similar to religious clerics.

  • My son Aaron just returned from spending a few days in LA riding along with our delivery drivers and visiting stores that sell OPDC raw dairy products. The stories he reported are really amazing. My favorite was when he was at Sprouts in Valencia CA. Our top selling Sprouts store. He was at the dairy case filling up product when he saw a lady with a piece of paper in her hand. She seemed to be searching the dairy case for something so he asked her if he could help. She said” my doctor sent me to fill this prescription ….here it is. She then showed him the prescription….it said, ” Drink OPDC raw organic Kefir, get it at Sprouts”. The diagnosis was irritable bowel problems. He then asked her all about her gut challenges and she went on to report that her doctor said that only organic raw Kefir works to quickly heal IBS.

    I am so happy that finally….food is becoming medicine. This is a passion and a life’s dream of mine and it is real and happening. She bought a whole grocery cart of RAW Kefir. Her parting words….I am so glad to be off drugs and into good foods and I am so glad to also meet my farmer!! What a treat!!

    There is hope because this patient will have a great outcome and she and her doctor will share this story with others and good news will continue to spread. Kefir sure beats Remicade or a colostomy bag with the horrible side effects including death and cancer!!!

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