I have to chuckle at the notion that there is some kind of financial or other conspiracy at work to promote raw milk. That notion is strongly suggested in comments by Concerned Person following my previous post, with the evidence being the goals expressed by Sally Fallon, head of the Weston A. Price Foundation, in her prefaces to the two editions of The Untold Story of Milk.
The goals CP cites as evidence are to create millions of new raw milk consumers, help lift dairy farmer incomes $120,000 annually (now we have greedy farmer executives, right?), and to provide raw milk to those whose immune systems could most benefit (children, pregnant women, the elderly). While Concerned Person seems to see problems in all these, she is most concerned about the last item, the idea of encouraging the immune-suppresed to consume raw milk.
Concerned Person argues that the immune suppressed should be educated about potential dangers of consuming raw milk. With due respect to those like Miguel who argue that we haven’t fully investigated the role of pathogens in illness, I actually think CP has an excellent suggestion for how raw dairies might handle the challenge: “(Consumers) need to know that there is a chance of pathogens being in the milk that could make them ill if their immune system is not healthy. You could explain to everyone that the germ theory is false and people become ill because of a damaged immune system; they don’t have enough good bacteria in their digestive track; therefore if a pathogen was present, they could become ill. Raw milk can help build up your immune system because healthy bacteria called probiotics are naturally present….Before introducing raw milk into your diet, it would be wise to start eating whole, unprocessed organic foods. Also add organic yogurt and kefir to begin building up the good bacteria in your digestive track. Adding high quality probiotic capsules to your diet will also help immensely. Eat like this for about 3 months before transitioning to raw milk.”
But what does CP do next? Links to this posting on the blog of food-poisoning lawyer Bill Marler who, coincidentally, combines news of the Colorado campylobacter outbreak (discussed in a number of comments following my previous post) being blamed on raw milk with more “news” about Organic Pastures Dairy Co. That news is a year-old statement from a California Department of Food and Agriculture inspector about alleged sanitation problems at Organic Pastures in early 2007. The statement was filed in support of the state of California, which was sued by OPDC and Claravale Farm (the other raw dairy producer) last year to prevent implementation of AB 1735 and its ten-coliform-per-milliliter standard. So while the allegations and photos don’t look pretty, it’s impossible to gain any perspective (that these may be isolated occurrences of the type that happen on many farms) because the state is, not surprisingly, throwing everything it has against the two dairies to defend itself in the suit.
More important, why is this particular report being raised now? Or course, we know. MarlerClark is representing two families suing OPDC, allegedly because their children became seriously ill from E.coli 0157:H7 in September 2006. This is the third or fourth time (I’m losing count) MarlerClark has gone public with “evidence” that seems to further its case.
See what’s going on here? CP makes a seemingly legitimate suggestion for improving raw milk safety, and then we wind up with a political/legal agenda: smearing OPDC.
It’s the same thing F. Philip Prelli, Connecticut’sag chief, was pulling (described in my previous post). He’s supposedly promoting public health safety, but in actuality, he had his article published in hopes of resurrecting the failed Connecticut legislation to prohibit retail sales of raw milk in Connecticut. (Prelli and others have been trying to piggyback the legislation onto other dairy legislation after the proposal to ban retail sales failed in a committee.)
On the Marler tactic, here is what a legal site says about this approach to trying to win legal cases:
“Lawyers engaging in pretrial publicity on the Internet is a growing concern within the legal profession, as many fear that online rantings, blogs and press releases by attorneys are potentially tainting the jury pool.”
I and others in favor of consumer food rights accept the reality that people occasionally become ill from drinking raw milk. We want to see safety regulations and information flow improved, as CP suggests. It would be nice if we could narrow the issue down to things like warning labels or even, as Regulator suggests, to a comparison between raw meat and raw milk.
But the regulators and lawyers keep mucking it up, pursuing their real agendas, which have nothing to do with improving safety.
I know some regulators wonder privately why their shrill warnings about the dangers of raw milk aren’t heeded. It’s simple. Each day, hundreds of thousands of people are safely consuming their raw dairy products and improving their health, in the spirit of Sally Fallon’s book introduction. It’s time for the regulators to face reality, and the reality is that few are listening to their propaganda and ploys designed to divert well meaning consumers from the important issues.