The deaths keep coming from pasteurized dairy products. In 2007, it was three deaths (and a miscarriage) from tainted pasteurized milk in Massachusetts. Last year, it was two deaths, one in Wisconsin and another in Delaware (along with at least one miscarriage), from bad pasteurized cheese. And this year, three deaths from contaminated pasteurized-milk ice cream.  


This doesn’t capture all the suffering of children and adults sickened, some seriously—all from listeria. 


Of course, you don’t hear much about these deaths (or the illnesses) from public health regulators, because the incidents are played down publicly, and their reports never ever say the milk in question was pasteurized. It’s just “milk” or “cheese” or “ice cream.”


Even the government reports about the pasteurized-milk deaths are curiously written so you have to read them very carefully to even know people died.  According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control report on the Crave Bros. Wisconsin  pasteurized cheese outbreak last year: “A total of six persons infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes were reported from five states….All six ill persons were hospitalized. One death was reported in Minnesota. In addition, one illness in a pregnant woman resulted in a miscarriage.” Seems they forgot to say, after noting the hospitalizations, “And by the way…”


You know that if it had been raw milk that killed people, the reports would have been written much differently. The deaths would have been headlined and highlighted. There would have been fear and horror expressed, not only in the official reports, but in the media reports on the official reports. There would have been graphic articles about the people who died, the terrible waste, the “what-could-have-beens” about the mother who lost a baby.  


I wrote about this double standard last year. 


But the double standard doesn’t just apply to the reporting of outbreaks. It applies to the official aftermath. 

There’s a report out of Oklahoma, home of a maker of bad ice cream earlier this year (the ice cream that killed two people), reporting that the regulators can’t figure out what made the ice cream bad. The manufacturing plant was dong “a great job,” says one report, and had no history of safety violations. 


But, the article suggests, the investigation will continue, because tracking down the sources of listeria that invades pasteurized-milk products can be very tricky. Yes, much trickier than any pathogens in raw milk. 


Can you imagine an official, all-out, let’s-get-to-the-bottom-of-this, investigation to figure out the cause of illnesses from raw milk? With the idea of fixing things so it doesn’t happen again? 


In the end, you have to wonder: five deaths in two years from pasteurized dairy products, plus some number of miscarriages.  Is it time for the public to be warned about the dangers of pasteurized products? Maybe warning labels on pasteurized products, stating something like this: “This product has been pasteurized to kill dangerous bacteria. However, this processing doesn’t always work as expected. Pasteurized dairy products have been associated with forms of listeria that can cause serious illness and death in children and people with compromised immune systems, and miscarriages in pregnant women.” 


Doesn’t the public deserve more than official pretending that no problem exists?