Why should we care about raw milk producers abiding by some set of quality and safety standards?
A number of people raised that question when I reported a few weeks ago that an ad hoc group of raw milk producers and consumers, headed by Tim Wightman of the Farm-to-Consumer Foundation, were involved in drafting quality and safety standards. The worry that seemed most prominent in the many comments was that any independent group or organization involved in setting and enforcing standards could very well be co-opted by government agencies.
I think the events out of California’s Humboldt County over the last few days can safely put those fears to rest. No government agency that I can think of would want to be associated with raw milk standards, now that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which funds so many state public health and agriculture agencies, has sought to put the kabosh on standards.
In the same document I quoted from in my previous post about the FDA’s weird effort to deny illnesses from pasteurized milk, the agency repeated its tired old theme that raw milk can never be produced safely: “FDA does not believe that HACCP [Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points] can ensure raw milk safety. The sanitary procedures described in a food safety plan under HACCP might help to reduce the probability of raw milk contamination but they will not ensure that raw milk is pathogen-free.”
Of course, no HACCP plan for any food can “ensure that (it) is pathogen-free.” Anyway, as its prime (and only) example, the FDA pointed to Organic Pastures Dairy Co., which in the last four years has instituted a written safety plan (though not officially a HACCP plan). “HACCP ensures product safety through process control and not by finished product testing. HACCP has been considered possible for chemical and physical hazard controls in farm settings. However, HACCP is not effective or even possible in farm settings for biological hazards, including pathogens…HACCP simply does not work for pathogen control for raw milk production on the farm…”
On what basis does the FDA draw such a broad-ranging conclusion? The only possible evidence it cites is this: “Organic Pastures is an example of a raw milk producer with a HACCP plan whose milk has been found to contain pathogens.” The FDA then refers to examples of illnesses attributed to Organic Pastures in 2006 and to discovery of listeria in its cream in 2007, even though Organic Pastures didn’t have its current written safety plan in place then.
As I said, the FDA has no interest in raw milk safety standards or plans, since in its twisted logic, standards can’t possibly work.
So back to my original question. Why should we want raw milk safety and quality standards? For two main reasons:
1. To ensure consumers have access to safe high-quality milk, thus reducing the chances of illnesses;
2. To protect producers from legal and regulatory problems.
By inspiring community confidence in producers’ commitment to quality and safety, adherence to realistic standards reduce the legitimacy of arguments such as the one being made by the FDA. One practical way standards can become important is in the event of government-inspired legal cases against raw dairies. Safety and quality standards, in the absence of illness, help make the case that not only do producers care, but safe raw milk is a reality. Otherwise, raw dairies won’t stand a chance in court cases, such as that involving Michael Hartmann, against government agencies waving their “data” about illnesses and disease in front of uneducated judges.
One other thing: there’s nothing that says we need a single set of standards for everyone. What’s wrong with two, three, or more sets of standards? I raise this because Scott Trautman, a Wisconsin dairyman who has advocated voluntary standards for raw dairies, is having a gathering at his farm this coming Thursday to discuss a set of standards he’s been working on.
Among those due to be present: Michael Schmidt, the Canadian dairy farmer, who will be assessing standards in place at the Trautman dairy. “I’m setting myself to be in the lead,” he told me. “Not necessarily a leader…We’re going to talk about what we do at my farm.” He has an account on his blog of how he came to his current viewpoint, along with an invitation to others who might be interested in participating in the discussion on Thursday.
The relationship of all this to Jewish laws on kosher food is intriguing. While essentially a set of biblical dietary restrictions, in practice the laws on kosher, or “kashrut,” are a set of standards that Jews follow to varying degrees. In my home, the only restriction we observed was on eating pork products. I had relatives, though, who were so strictly observant about the various restrictions that they would bring their own food when eating in my family’s home. One key point is that the standards are voluntary. No government enforces them, even in Israel, a Jewish state. (Here is some excellent background information on the laws.)
Jews who strictly observe the laws on kashrut do so for any number of reasons, including health and safety; for example, they avoid pork because pigs have long been seen as unclean animals that can carry disease. Even though pork is no longer an especially dangerous source of illness, these Jews still worry because at one time in history, pork was dangerous. Sound familiar?
I don’t want to take the comparison too far, primarily because there is no religious component associated with establishing voluntary standards for raw milk. Indeed, the opportunity is that the standards on raw milk are being established now. There’s no need to rely on the Bible. ?
IF we in Wisconsin – the Raw Milk brand – just like all farmers together are a 'brand' – were the types of farms that were clean, professional, well run, never made people sick, had very nice confidence inspiring systems – we could concentrate on the real argument about rights.
This is me folks, boring, working my ass off here in Wisconsin thinking about how I do that, and yes, how I convince the raw milk people here to raise the whole tide – in order that we remove this 'weapon' constantly used to distract us. "People could get sick".
These comparisons will be to other dairies. Other's like. And when you go looking there – sometimes it's not pretty. I do not want to be compared to my neighbor's shithole. He's a heck of a nice guy, not a bad dairyman, but his milk needs to be pasteurized. Mine does not, and here's the proof – from their own world – that shows it.
I keep saying the same things, everyone else keeps saying the same things. I talk safety, responsibility, everyone else talks rights. The opponents of raw milk talk safety, and they talk about it a lot. We deny raw milk could ever cause any problem. What kind of safety system are you going to get from that idea? EVEN if it was true – and it is in my belief more true than not – is that a useful way to think about your job? That's the way our pastuerized farmers think. No worries, it'll get pasteurized later. That is dangerous thinking for me to take. Yet that's what I hear over and again.
You folks here talk about what you want for as long as you want. I'm the irritating annoying guy that asks, so what did all that accomplish?
I will speak, I will act, I will defend from strength. I will prove to anyone anywhere any time that I make quality milk that honors everyone in this movement. It will – to be the best of my ability – never be me that causes the distraction of illness to the cause. If I did – and I didn't do everything I could – I would feel very badly that I had let all of you down – even you screamers and insulters –
That is my attitude. You do what you think is right.
I would love to have people that want to learn, to improve themselves, to critique at my farm. I do not want conspiracy talk, what a terrible world it is, even who is to blame for what. I don't care. I just know what I can do – and it is empowering for me to do it.
Scott Trautman – PROUD Wisconsin RAW Dairyman
PS: This is not my forum, really, by what y'all talk about here mostly. Not my desire to upset any, and that's what seems to happen. If anyone wants to have a serious conversation about safety, email me, come find me. I always have time to learn; I frankly don't have time for something I understand well already, about the world around me and my rights – and responsibilities. So say what you will – insults and innuendo just make me sad about the person that says them. Such wasted time and energy, when I for one never feel like I have enough of either……
I think it would be beneficial to even more raw milk farmers if you make available the 'discussion' you are having this week to as many farmers as possible. Do you think it possible to have someone film what will transpire and maybe make it available on youtube or somewhere else on the web. Sure, those within a few hundred miles of your farm can attend, but the Wisconsin area doesn't have a monopoly on milk production (although I understand many there who feel that they do). The information you will present can do more good if it's just not made available to a small minority of neighbors.
Every raw milk farmer worth his salt knows that raw milk 'can' cause illness. I'd be scared to buy from someone who wouldn't admit it, and one who produces with the notion that it 'can't' are a real threat to the movement….and the health of their customers.
So yes, we should have had (and did have) the RIGHT to drink it. We should still have the right to buy that and drink it still. But as a careful consumer, I would like to see any dairy that cares to sell their product raw have a self imposed check list of standards for the on farm consumer and that is absolutely necessary for off farm or commercial sales. But I think self imposed should be good enough, I would trust an individual dairyman more than i would trust the FDA/USDA.
A good analogy might be that when I go to a friends home and eat their home canned food, if it were a low acid food I would take consider carefully my friend's work habits. Sloppiness just does not work in that type of situation. It is interesting that while every state has laws concerning the sale of home-canned goods, i have never yet heard warnings about personal consumption from a friend, as often happens about raw milk. And canning mistakes can be deadly. But every extension office in the USA under the auspices of the USDA, with a benign attitude from the FDA and CDC, gives classes concerning safe canning practices and cuts home canners loose to wreak possible havoc upon the unsuspecting masses. I can a lot of food myself, including meat. When I do that i go from being a relatively easy going person to anal retentive can-zilla. I also tell guests in my home when something is home canned so they can make their own decision.
There are still some people out there who can things like green beans in a water bath canner and the food police do not show up on their doorstep-yet!
I think most of us who actually milk a dairy animal are all open to learning. I have learned quite a bit from miguel, goatmaid, Dave Milano, Bill Anderson, and others on this blog. Some of these people have been doing what they do for decades.
Given the wealth of experience of some of these people, it's a bit brazen to come so quietly to the table in order to develop standards in an insular environment of a few chosen people. Violet produces award-winning produce. Why wasn't she consulted as to how she accomplishes this? Are these standards being developed only for the state of Wisconsin?
I honestly don't think that what you're doing is any type of conspiracy at all. I hold Tim Wightman's "Raw Milk Production Handbook" as a valuable reference, but I milk goats and do not use a bulk tank. I also don't use a teat dip or gloves. If these requirements are needed to participate in a "brand", you will always have folks that just go through the motions. Also, you and your brand may become more exclusive than inclusive, but for the wrong reasons.
What ever you come up with, I am sure it will be rooted in science and hopefully even more in common sense. But again, I would urge you to please test the product before you judge the process. If the product has been produced for x amount of time with no problems the process is a valid one, and deserves to be kept in place.
Its interesting to discuss how the laws of Kosher relate to our predicament.
I worked in a cheese factory that made Kosher cheese. The rabbi acted like a health inspector of sorts, checking to make sure the vats, tools, and curd hoops were scrupulously clean. The Rabbi had to add the rennet to the milk (which ironicaly comes into conflict with Wisconsin dairy laws that require a licensed cheese maker add rennet to the milk)
From my understanding, rennet is problematic, because it is a mixing of milk and meat. But it is allowed if the veal rennet is prepared according to kosher standards. The only producer of commercial veal rennet in the U.S. (which was bought out by Cargill a few years ago) is not kosher, and so the only kosher rennets available in the U.S. today are synthetic rennets.
It seems religion can work around just about any law, which is truly unfair to us unreligious types!! 😉
In any case, animal-sourced rennet is not kosher at all, no matter how it's processed: How can you process an animal product so it isn't animal anymore?? I can tell you it sure wouldn't be allowed in Israel. The Rabbi must use vegetable/synthetic rennet, if the Rabbis in Israel have any say, as I think they do, in the rest of the world on what's called "Kosher."
The FDA is in serious error. The FDA has mandatory HACCP programs for fish. These programs do not include any CCP kill steps like pasteurization. So when the FDA says that HACCP must have a kill step that is politics playing on our ignorance. RAMP is basically a HACCP plan with expanded testing and no kill step. But remember that FDA HACCP does does not require a CCP kill step anyway. I know this is all technical stuff but it shows how disengeniuos the FDA agenda is. They are intentionally not being helpful.
Nice post David. You are correct the national FDA agenda is anti-helpful
Secondly, of course you COULD get sick from raw milk. I COULD and HAVE gotten sick from a family picnic. That the FDA gives that as a reason, and then ignores instances of illness from contaminated pasturized milk just points to the single-minded and biased approach they take to just about everything.
I would love it if sets of standards were established that dairies can tell the public they conform to. And I would love it to happen outside of the FDA as a demonstration of raw dairy's commitment to producing a quality product regardless of the FDA. I believe that the strength of the raw milk movement will depend on this.
Rennet and kosher:
Animal rennet and lipase can be kosher, however. If the kosher source animal is slaughtered, de-veined, salted and processed according to kosher law, its rennet and lipase are fine for kosher use. (There is no halachic problem with using animal-derived enzymes in cheese [mixing meat and milk] since the amounts used are miniscule. Moreover, the enzymes are not cooked with the milk, and they are flavorless. Also, the davar hamaamid principle cited earlier only applies to non-kosher substances, and the enzymes are actually kosher.) Still, even cheese made with glatt kosher animal rennet and lipase is considered gevinat Akum when manufactured by non-Jews, as the sages created a general ban on such cheese.
A thought I had as I read through the posts… I think that Scott T. is mostly trying to affect the real world that he lives in and that mostly involves the direct people in his life – the farmers around him and the consumers he interacts with. Maybe originally he thought that his ideas for standards would be helpful to a wider audience and as such posted his thoughts here. Having followed the standards discussion here, I can see the concerns on both sides of the topic. Something that I think is amusing is that when Scott proposes a set of standards or someone else proposes a set of standards, many others start agressively stating how these standards could lead to a takeover by big ag like the organic standards have. In my point of view, Scott is just a farmer that is trying to do what is right in his part of the world and wants to help others as well. No one has made him supreme ruler over everyone else. He has never even hinted at that as far as I can tell. His suggestions were just that – suggestions. I didn't get offended by them. Even if Scott does come up with a set of standards, it does not mean that all of the sudden they will generally be accepted by all and be made "the" standard to follow. We all have a choice – we can chose to follow his suggestions or to not follow them. End of story.
I think that what Joelie was refering to when she mentioned her friends that might be "used" to their raw milk was a situation that happens often where a dairy family – even conventional dairies as I understand it – drinks their milk raw. A conventional dairy typically does not produce milk that is clean enough to be consumed raw. Yet the family producing that milk may drink it raw and not become ill as their immune systems have adapted and learned to handle what is typically in their milk. If a person not "used" to this milk then drinks it, they have a higher chance of getting sick as their immune systems haven't built up that learning curve yet. Milk that is properly produced with the intention of being consumed raw requires less of an immune system learning curve as there should be fewer or no harmful organisms in the milk.
On a personal note, I do believe that bacteria are highly adaptive. I believe it has been proven quite extensively in the scientific community that bacteria will adapt to the environment they are introduced to. Raw milk contains bacteria – hopefully good bacteria. Yet if those good bacteria are introduced to an environment that is not condusive to their existence, they will adapt (change) into other forms that will survive in that environment. What this means is that good bacteria can change into bad bacteria depending on what environment they are in. It has also been proven that a majority of our immune systems are based on the bacteria communities in our digestive tracts. So if a person with a very poor immune system – a very poor community of bacteria – drinks clean raw milk, the bacteria in that milk will have to adapt to the new environment that they find themselves in.
The opponents of raw milk will say that the solution to this is to just consume foods that are completely sterile. We just need to remove all bacteria from all of the food we eat and then we will be fine. I think this is very naive as you can never fully remove all bacteria and our bodies actually need the good bacteria to survive. We have to be able to introduce these good bacteria in some way. The Food, Inc industry would rather have us believe that if we could sterilize everything we eat, they can then provide us with a Probiotic supplement that can give us the bacteria we need – hey that is handy since they can make enormous amounts of money from us this way.
Some on this blog tend to get offended because raw milk is not the only way to get good bacteria either – just one way. They are right – there are other methods of getting good bacteria and there is probably a blog that deals more directly with those types of foods. This blog tends to be mostly about raw milk. That doesn't mean that all of us here only think milk is the answer. We just want to make sure that milk is not taken out of our available options. I don't think any food can be made 100% safe. I also feel that those that state that raw milk is inherently more dangerous overstate the issue – usually for some type of personal gain.
Those are just my opinions though. Cheers, Brandon
That is an excellent comment, and a bit surprising coming from "the raw milk movement." Overall, very constructive blog post and comments. As an industry, you might consider learning from past outbreaks….there's been a lot of time and energy potentially wasted arguing about FDA/state conspiracies and the use of DNA fingerprinting (PFGE) . Where transparency with the source farms is possible, the past outbreaks could provide insights into the most vulnerable areas of contamination and help prioritize prevention strategies. I'd agree that the FDA, states, and maybe even the university extension groups have no plans to help the raw milk industry in this way.
In contrast, this approach seems the least constructive:
How many outbreaks do they have, and what is the commonality among the folks who get sick? Are they really first time raw milk drinkers, are they travelers, have their guts been denuded of bacteria by recent antibiotic prescriptions?
Does anyone believe that since colostrum has been proven to be a bactericide effective against e coli, camplyobacter jejuni, etc, would it be helpful if new raw milk drinkers take that as a supplement before and during the first exposure to raw milk?
Maybe all raw milk drinkers should have colostrum or colostrum supplements available to take if they start to have signs of feeling poorly.
Are there any other foods that could be used to prime the system before beginning raw milk for the first time?
You seem to be putting the onus on the customer vs. the producer and suggesting that the customer should be able to tolerate exposure to contaminated raw milk. But, there is no scientific or medical justification for that approach. It makes more sense to apply standards to prevent contamination of the food being sold rather than rely on undefined characteristics of the consumer's immune system. Since raw milk is marketed specifically to children and the immune-compromised, the need for standards cannot be understated.
I deeply believe that our national standards are very simple and have been stated here before. The standards we should all meet are simple measurable end points.
The most important thing that comes with simple end point standards is a national commitment. Most of the time I think that the word commitment is more important than standards.
It has nothing to do with pathogens. Even pasteurized milk has some bacteria in it (unless it is UHT steralized at over 280 degrees F, and aseptically packaged in a sterile enviroment using sterile containers)
See, this is why the singular obsessive-compulsive focus on germ theory is such a problem. Eliminating bacteria does not mean that food is safe or better. It just makes the consumer unable to digest real foods because of the lack of a robust digestive system.
p.s. I am in favor of standards for raw milk. I am in favor of food safety for raw milk. The so-called "food safety" establishment clearly is NOT. Their agenda is total corporate domination, NOT food safety.
In my reading of smy opin's comment, it was clearly about pathogens, not adjustment to increased butterfat and protein. Indeed, he/she even mentions E. coli and Campylobacter. Looking at recent data, these are the two most important pathogens linked to legal, commercial raw milk in the last decade. I'm skeptical about FDA's focus on Listeria monocytogenes and raw milk since it's been more of a problem in pasteurized milk and other foods. E. coli O157:H7 and Campylobacter are of much greater concern for raw milk producers and consumers, and they are entrenched in food animal populations regardless of scale of operation (and occur in healthy animals).
We agree other than the fact it's not simple. The reality that standards are even controversial shows the complexity of the implementing them. Furthermore, there are many unknowns relating to those "end points." Over time and with effort, many of the unknown end points could be defined through research and perhaps learning from outbreaks, and listening to dairymen/women with experience like you, Michael Schmidt, Scott Trautman, Tim Wightman, etc. Arbitrary standards or fat HACCP plans collecting dust on the shelf are not likely to prevent illnesses or promote quality raw milk. But, other than the "simple" part, you are 100% on the right track here, IMHO:
"The most important thing that comes with simple end point standards is a national [and individual] commitment."
On a lighter note . . . . some of you out there have e-mailed me privately and believe me . . . . I will be getting back to you soon.
I need to aplogize if over the past several weeks my posts have been somewhat terse. I have been under a great deal of pressure/stress and it is all over now. January 14th was the day.
I was doing it for the "raw milk ingredients" that I wanted to include in the "cookbook" if I won. I was also going to focus on local foods . . . . secretly, I had an agenda.
You see everyone . . . . I amost made it to the show "MasterChef". I found out Friday that I did not make it to the top 100 in the US, although, I have been going through many of the steps after my audition in Boston on November the 13th.
I still plan on writing the cookbook though . . . . . this summer through next fall.
I got a Sous Vide Machine for Christmas and the other day I made a perfect Raw Jersey Ricotta cheese in it:)
Lets keep up the fight for our access to the raw and local foods we want . . . . not what the government chooses for us.
Best wishes to you all!!!!
I based my previous statement on having lived two years in Israel, where the meat-milk prohibition was the reason I was given for the execrable state of cheese there. All Kosher cheese in Israel was made from powdered vegetable sources, which, 30 years ago I can tell you, did not make good cheese. Things apparently have changed!
Now that I think on it, the first time I ever drank fresh milk was on the kibbutz. I still remember how amazingly delicious it was, so fresh and alive, and how rich the cream was… I'd never had real cream before. The kibbutz dairy milked 400 cows and we all–900 kibbutzniks, plus 40 volunteers from all over the world–drank the milk raw.
It was quite a shock to discover how milk is supposed to be…. I was ruined ever after for pasteurized milk. Took me ten years after I returned home to find a raw milk source, and another five before I could raise my own. Been drinking my own milk now for nearly 15 years. I'll never give it up.
That is why we find listeria so often in pasteurized products, but rarely in raw milk. The huge diversity of organisms in raw milk systematically exclude listeria — it may still be present at low levels, but it will never be able to grow.
There was actually an interesting accidental experiment with listeria done recently in Wisconsin, where a semi-soft pastuerized milk cheese and a semi-soft raw milk cheese were washed in the same brine as they were cured. Guess which one came up positive for listeria? I'll give you one guess.
I'll give away the answer here — it was the pasteurized milk cheese that tested positive for listeria (yes, it is possible to make good cheese with pastuerized milk, but to make truly great cheese one must use raw milk)
It is no surprise that a young, not pregnant, healthy male ingested Listeria monocytogenes with no ill effect. But, how about the women who lost their fetus, or the elderly men that died in Mass. after eating queso fresco cheese or pasteurized milk, respectively? Hopefully those industries are working on the problem since not all of their customers are healthy, young males….Similarly, it is good to see people in the "raw milk movement" starting to discuss standards to prevent problems like E. coli O157 and Campylobacter in raw milk intended for human consumption.
When I was 9 years old I lived on a Kibbutz. It was Kibbutz Yakum and Betasheta. I am sure they are spelled differently
I also remember how good the yogurt and Kefir was. I also remember living in a childrens house and showering with all the girls, the bomb shelters and Uzi machine guns every where
In the E.U., they allow upto 10 cfu's/gram of monocytogenes in cheese. That is probably not enough to make you sick, even if you are pregnant and immune comprised.
A few of my favorite lines:
"Safety and quality standards, in the absence of illness, help make the case that not only do producers care, but safe raw milk is a reality. "
"What's wrong with two, three, or more sets of standards?
"We're going to talk about what we do at my farm."
That's what I want to look at – what happens on each farm. I don't presume I can tell any farmer how to run their farm. But I think we can talk about their process, identify exposures (What kind of sanitizers are used? How often do you clean the ice-water bath? How much grain do you feed? Where do your animals come from? Where does your feed come from? What is your stillborn rate? What kind of medical interventions are used?) Every step of their process has learning opportunities.
MW makes a good point – we have learned a lot from outbreaks, and we share that knowledge with other farmers. It's amazing what happens when you bring farmers together to talk shop. Nobody hides knowledge; everyone listens, shares and asks questions.
As far as voluntary standards being co-opted by regulatory agencies, the biggest danger I see is setting milk safety standards based on product bacteria tests. If we recommend that milk be tested for Campylobacter and E. coli 0157:H7, regulators will point to all the other possible contaminants that "must" be tested for as well. There are now 7 or 8 shiga-toxin producing e. coli strains (though only 3 labs in the country can isolate them). When will that end?
We can't test quality into a product.
I sure would love to come to Wisconsin this Thursday. I can't afford airfare – is there some way I could teleconference? I would also pay for a recording.
That's not what I was saying at all, because I don't view it as an either/or approach.
Certainly there is an onus on the producer. And yet the FDA keeps coming back and saying, nope, nothing you can do is good enough – raw milk is inherently unsafe.
What I was saying is that without knowing the data – what is rate of illness in a population that has raw milk in vending machines, using standards xy and z. Rather, we're guessing at shadowy US figures. We really have no idea who is drinking it,
and what the folks who do get sick might have in common. We're comparing data of how many get sick in a state where raw milk is illegal to those where it's legal (as IF folks obtaining it illegally are going to tell officials it was raw milk that made them ill. Sure some might, but most would not.)
I don't think demanding that the FDA should actually base their findings on real data
instead of these guesses is unreasonable. I don't believe you can actually calculate risk when you don't know the basic commonality about who is getting sick. Lumping everyone who gets ill into some vague categories like " the immune compromised" is frankly BS if you don't have the data to back it up.
The question about bactericidal properties of colostrum is not to allow standards to slip – as was the case with pasteurization.
It's could be a means to add another layer of protection.
Arbitrary numbers here that are meaningless but to show what I"m getting at:
Say the risk of getting ill from drinking raw milk, produced carefully and safely, is 2.
Then the risk of serious HUS or complications is .02.
If those risks can be further reduced by colostrum to .0002, why would we not explore that?
It's ironic to me that while the FDA is waxing hysterical about Russian Roulette, the actual science is suggesting that colostrum/early lacatation raw milk could be the key to reducing risk of food poisoning in general – regardless of what food may be the source of pathogens.
Immunosuppression due to exposure to chemicals and biological toxins as well as radiation and changing environment has long been suspected as the underlying cause of disease. Organisms are merely along for the ride and if I might add, adapting very well to whatever hurdles we place in their path.
There is a symbiotic relationship that exists between us and the organism. Our controlling warlike mentality towards them including all life forms is a reflection of our contemptuous nature.
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones. Albert Einstein
> What are the safeguards when making raw milk cheese so one doesn't
> get listeriosis in their cheese? Is it sanitation or the diet of the
> animal, etc?? Silage?
Regardless of whether you pasteurize or not, exemplary sanitation, milk care and feeding regimes are important.
The report doesn't say this is definitely linked to raw milk cheese. And the earlier listeria outbreak they are speaking of, the one in France/Switzerland with Vacherin Mont D'Or, was caused by PASTEURIZED milk cheese. All fingers pointed to the raw milk cheese, but when it was finally traced back, they discovered, (sarcasm: big surprise here) it was the pasteurized milk that caused the problem.
This is from Steven Jenkins 'Cheese Primer' pg 121:
"Even more outrageous is the fact that by 1983 the Swiss chose to begin using pasteurized instead of raw milk for their cheese in an attempt to rein in the capriciousness of Vacherin's recipe. The result, as is occasionally the case with pasteurized-milk cheeses, was a serious outbreak of listeriosis. In the end the problem was traced directly to the pasteurized Swiss cheese, but for quite some time French-made raw-milk Vacherin bore the brunt of the blame for this catastrophe. The result in France was a few years of disastrously slow sales… Another consequence was that the USFDA prohibited export of all French raw-milk Vacherin regardless of how long it had been aged, to the US."
I'd blame pasteurized milk cheese well before I'd blame raw-milk. The powers that be seem to think that because the milk is heated according to 'rules' that the rules are always followed and no problems are ever encountered. I think that pasteurization is used as some kind of magical safeguard to excuse milk from diseased cows, poorly sanitized facilities and more: "So the cow has mastitis…. pasteurization will take care of that!".
Hmmm, will have to go back through those old emails and see if I can find the report they're talking about.
I have said that there are simple end point standards that we can all agree upon. However how each of us in each of our very unique Eco spheres achieves these common end goal points is not simple. I agree they may be even complex and unique.
What Scott does with his cold winters and what I do in CA could be very different. But I really believe the goals are the same.
I am going to start a conscious effort to include the FDA in my updates of my RAMP program evolutions and updates as I learn more and more. If the FDA responds that is great if not they will have zero to bitch about if they ever complain. Etc.
I am pledged at a deep level to break the raw milk silence at the FDA it is inexcusable as a responsible agency of our democracy.
From what I have heard, the mont d'or made today is nothing like the mont d'or of the past. I will grant that it is a fairly high-risk cheese, given its high moisture content and very long slow acidification. Mont D'or is brined and put in the cave with minimal acid production — a pH in the mid to low 6's, and then continues to slowly acidify post-production for several days to weeks, before the "schmear" bacteria start consuming the lactic acid and bringing the pH back up. Talk about an opportunity for an organism like staph or listeria to grow!
All the more reason, though, to make it with raw milk. As the Swiss experience shows, destroying the microbiogical diversity with pasteurization and replacing it with industrial monocultures only opens up the door to opportunistic pathogens like listeria.
There is a reason why listeria is such a problem in modern hyper-sanitary food processing enviroments (like PMO dairy plants… I know, I have worked in them), but is not a problem in traditional "unsanitary" food processing enviroments with their incredible bio-diversity and positive bacterial pressure that excludes listeria.
I think that it's interesting that in the past five years that I've been monitoring raw milk related news articles that I've never once seen a recall or contamination notice for a Texas farm, unlike the suspicious spate of notices in Pennsylvania and New York in 2006 and 2007. (Those notices also mysteriously abated in the past few years.)
I do not see a national association of raw milk producers happening any time soon. I also do not see any national raw milk standards being published or embraced by all anytime soon. I spoke with Tim Wightman at length this morning and had a discussion about the work he has done. He has done so much and it has not been appreciated for its real value.
What I do see is more and more calls coming into my office everyweek from serious raw milk producers from all over the country wanting to know what it is that we do to serve 400 stores and 50,000 people everyweek and do it reliably. I share every detail of our RAMP program and give out the secrets of our success as best I can. Most of our secret sauce is committment and hard work that is all connected together with a written plan called RAMP.
In the vacuum left by the FDA that does not appear to want to help us at all, I will be producing an additional resource that I will made available at http://www.rawusa.org/
This food safety resource will suggest some basic national standards for all of the raw milk producers to utilize and follow if they wish. I will not be reinventing the wheel. It will basically be a rendition of CA CDFA standards. They work,… so why reinvent them.
Our secretary of Agriculture AG Kawamura told me once….he said, "I just do not know why the guys in Washington DC don't just take CA raw milk standards and use them. They work. I see this all the time, CA is the pioneer and everyone else follows us."
Those were his words and are nearly a quote.
Then I will suggest some RAMP program basics that can be adopted to be used by anyone that wants to use them. It will be in soft copy and downloadable. The RAMP program will be the methods used to achieve the national standards. Simple standards supported by a much more complex system to assure compliance with the simple standands.
Does anyone have an issue with " National Raw Milk Standards" as follows,
1. Zero pathogens ( Campy, List M, Salmonella, Ecoli 0157H7 ) in finished products
2. Less than 10 coliforms in finished products when they leave the creamery.
3. Less than 15,000 SPC in finished products when they leave the creamery.
4. TB tested herd
5. Brucellosis vacinated and ear tagged herd
6. Consumer Warning on All Raw Dairy Products
7. Farmer can only use his own raw milk and no outsourcing.
8. No pasteurization can take place at the same facilities as used for Raw Milk
9. Farmer must have his own written food safety plan that explains his risks and efforts.
10. Farmer must be committed to green and clean practices.
That is it…all ten commandments for the raw milk producer.
Of course the written plan includes so much more. But this RAMP plan is up to the producer to develop. A written example for a plan will include 90% of everything he will need to start looking at his operation and would inlcude Tims work and work done by Dr. Beals, Dr. Ron Hull, Dr. Cat Berge DVM PhD, OPDC, Scott Trautman and many others others. Each farmer can choose to do what he wants to do with his written plan. But….after reading in todays "Food Business News" and seeing what Dr. David Acheson had to say about the changes coming with SB510…trust me, you will need a RAMP program and it will be audited by the FDA. This is interesting, because there is no mandate for HACCP in raw milk or any dairy in the USA.
I am going to post this in the next 30 days at http://www.rawusa.org. I will also send copies to the FDA for their comments and edits ( extremely wishfull on my part ).
I do not want to have an FDA audit with out this first and vital step of publishing standards and inviting FDA review. If they choose to stand clear of comments, then they have little room to complain later. The judge will see it exactly that way. So I am going to invite the FDA to comment and edit just like they were sitting at the table with us everyday as a full partner. Who knows…we just might get lucky. They may chime in and we will be off to a brighter future filled with possibilities.
Nothing in these standards mandate anything. They just suggest what a participant has in common with other dairymen that follow the same standards. That is it. Each farmer sinks or swims based on his own hard work and efforts. As it should be. Perhaps someday a certification can follow and allow for a seal of approval. Until then, we have lots of work to do and lots of people to feed and weak immune systems to heal.
Lets revisit the best science again!!
This is the science that shows exactly why bacteria are critical to life ( they are life ) and why the protection of and consumption of a biodiversity of bacteria and the food that feed them is essential to health and life. It also answers the questions about genetic and DNA origins of illness.
MIT Dr. Bonnie Bassler brings it all together.
This is critical to the discussion about immunity and about "Quorum Sensing" thresholds
( how bacteria vote by a chemical language all there own prior to doing anything ) of Listeria and other pathogens and why farmers that drink dirty raw milk do not get sick from them….yet the city dwellers that consume that dirty raw milk can get very sick.