Saturday, February 28, 2009

Keep Your Laws Out of My Belly!

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"The literature implicating raw milk
in foodborne illness exhibits
a systematic bias
against this food.
In many cases,
this bias is not intentional,
but is a product of sloppy scientific principles.
... it appears that most investigators
are thoroughly convinced
that raw milk poses a major threat
to public health,
and thus they often rush to judgment
to implicate raw milk even
when the science is not fully supportive."

- Raw Milk: What the Scientific Literature Really Says
A Response to Bill Marler, JD
Prepared by the Weston A. Price Foundation

You don't need scientific expertise to sit in your computer chair (armchair?) and raise a skeptical eye at supposedly sound science.

Even the phrase "sound science" carries an implication that any counter opinion is going to be "unsound" or based on anecdotal know, personal experience which seems to count for NOTHING in the scientific community.

If you offer an opinion based on your own personal, concrete, bodily experience you are regarded as an exception or worse a danger to those who would be potentially harmed by following your example.

Keep that in mind as I respond to an article on the JunkFood Science blog (which will no longer appear in my sidebar blog links after today) about the "dangers" of real milk.

The title is the first red flag regarding her pre-existing bias on the subject (I'm biased but I'm not a sneak hiding behind the rhetoric of "sound science". I'm up front about my suppositions.)

"The raw milk debate — helping parents wade through the milk science"

The implication is that her article is all for the good of the kids. Screw middle aged single childless women like me. It's all about the kiddies and therefore virtuous right off the bat.

"Parents hear sensational claims of special health benefits and potentially harmful risks about both pasteurized and unpasteurized milk."

Here comes the derogatory language.
"Sensational claims" are controversial. They get our attention. They're outside the norm. They sound miraculous. They give us hope. But science hates miracles or anything that sounds like a miracle. Science regards out of the ordinary claims as aberrant and dangerous, something to be dissected and disproved which is exactly what this article sets out to do. It screams "You want to get well outside the approval of the FDA? Shame on you! You're a rebel and a traitor!"

"Trying to decide which is the safest and healthiest choice for their children can be impossibly hard for parents, though, without knowing which claims are based on the best scientific evidence and which ones are fiction."

So we have our oppositional dualism. We know who our contenders are. In one corner we have the "best scientific evidence" and in the other corner "fiction". She doesn't even bother using phrases like "unscientific" or "based on personal experience". She's stacking the odds from the start. If we're foolish enough to believe fiction over science we may as bend down on our front lawns and talk to the dew fairies who left droplets on our grass this morning.

"A paper in the new issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases revealed some surprising information about the safety and wholesomeness of milk that may help break through the milky maze. Professors Jeffrey T. LeJeune, DVM, Ph.D., and Päivi J. Rajala-Schultz, DVM, Ph.D., at the Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine at Ohio State University, reviewed the evidence..."

Ah, impressive experts. Can you just see them in their white lab coats holding their lapels authoritatively? The evidence was reviewed. These folks have initials after their names. They are infallible.

"...on how milk can become contaminated, how it can be make safer, and trends in milkborne diseases among people in the United States."

Trends in milkbourne diseases?
I thought we were talking about raw milk here.
If she's presenting data on milkbourne diseases in general then she needs to say so. Milk from grass fed pastured animals is vastly different from factory milk from commercial dairies. Her article is about raw milk isn't it? So why use data that does not address the entity at hand?

"Milk can become contaminated with organisms before cows or goats are milked, and during collection, processing, distribution and storage."

Yes, but contaminated with what?
If the facilities are clean and the animal is kept in clean, healthy surroundings why would we worry about contamination?
She DID get my attention by saying the milk can be contaminated before the animal is even milked. Ok. Let's read on.

"The most striking finding in their report was that we can’t trust appearances to know if milk or a dairy animal is healthy or infected."

This implies that non-commercial farmers are taking a look at their cow and thinking 'Well you're not coughing or tipping over. Your milk must be good." As an animal lover I can tell you that there is more than appearance to consider when judging wheter an animal is sick or well. You have to look at it's eating habits, behavior, listen to it's breathing, take its temperature, consider the source of its water and food and many other factors besides appearance to indicate its level of wellness. Farmers aren't stupid. They're experts in animal care having lived with these creatures all their lives. I think they'll rely on more than mere appearance to tell if their animal is healthy.

"Bacteria not only lives on the teat skin, they said, but also on the epithelial lining in the teat canal (the duct that carries the milk from the mammary gland to the teat opening). In healthy cows, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Bacillus, Micrococcus, Corynebacterium and even coliform bacteria colonize this area so that by the time the milk leaves the animal, it can already contain numerous bacterial contaminants."

Can does not necessarily lead to Does. These dangerous bacteria CAN colonize in the mammary gland and teat opening. But how often does that happen? What is the percentage rate of this occurance in the animals that are kept on humane, natural, non-commercial pastures?
She provides stats in her following paragraph.

"Milk samples tested at laboratories with the University of Wisconsin in Madison and Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, found mastitis infections in up to half of the samples. Staphylococcus and Streptococcus species were the most common bacteria, found in about 20% of the milk, they said."

Where were these samples from?
She says they tested milk from "dairy cows in New York and northern Pennsylvania" but she does not say which dairies. Are they commercial dairies? What did these animals eat? What were their living conditions? She's using data from commercial, non-raw milk sources to say something about raw milk. Sloppy science if you ask me.

"While only about one in ten of the Wisconsin milk samples from cows were infected, an important finding was that the infected milk from animals with subclinical mastitis infections looked no different from uninfected milk and had been added to the tank for sale."

Again, were these factory farms?
If this infected milk was added to the tank for sale, which tank?
The one on the way to be pasteurized?
I get the impression that private farms, the place where one might go to acquire real milk, were not among the samples tested. Only a commercial enterprise would be available to these scientists so we're still not talking about the product in question - raw milk.

"Herds can have their milk infected from
their natural living environment. Nature is not sterile

If nature is not sterile and humans are part of nature then it follows that we weren't designed (we have not evolved) to REQUIRE sterilility. We're built to pick food off of trees and eat things that are dirty and natural. If food is sterilized then all the good bacteria that we need in our bodies is killed off along with all the bad bacteria. Nature is not something alien to us. We are nature.

"The scientists at the Department of Dairy Science at the University of Wisconsin reported that animals are continually exposed to pathogens that can lead to mastitis because the primary route of contamination is contact with moisture, mud and manure on the farm."

Why would an animal be continually exposed to its own manure?
On factory farms animals are penned. They stand in puddles and piles of their own urine and feces. I thought we were talking about pastured animals. Moisture and mud are places where bacteria grow. I thought humans are supposed to be able to live in environments rich in moisture and mud rather than sanitized concrete bunkers that defy the natural interrelatedness of the biosphere.

“Unlike mastitis caused by contagious pathogens, mastitis caused by environmental pathogens cannot be eradicated from a dairy herd,” they said. No matter how pristine a farm and well cared for it and the animals may be. Bacteria, we’re reminded, are all-natural."

Yes. Bacteria are all natural. Bacteria live on our skin. Bacteria dwell inside us. Bacteria are part of a natural, healthy ecology. Not all bacteria are dangerous. She's trying to indict the term "all-natural" as being inherently dirty, infectious and to be feared. Typical of science to turn us into wheezing, sneezing germophobes with weak immune systems from over-use of anti-bacterials, anti-biotics and sanitizers. Dont' take my word for it. Google that shit. We're creating super-bugs and super germs with our germophobic reliance on anti-biotics and anti-bacterials.

"With quick refrigeration and maintaining proper chilling, the bacterial proliferation can be suppressed (with the exception of Listeria species and other psychotropic organisms). But that’s not sufficient, given these natural levels of contamination, to prevent diseases in people, especially vulnerable populations."

She's jumped from all-natural, naturally occuring bacteria to "contamination". Obvious germophobia. And "vulnerable populations" are those with weak immune systems like the sick and elderly. No attention is given to HOW people's immune systems are weakened or HOW folks got sick or WHY the elderly have been conditioned over time to be intolerant of the bacteria that our bodies, in an optimum state of health, should be able to co-exist with. Our oversanitized, enzyme depleted foods may be causing the vulnerable popluations to be vulberable in the first place.

"Science has taken three tactics to minimize risks that milk is contaminated with organisms that can make people sick: animal health, improved
milk handling hygiene and pasteurization. "

Oh, thank God for good ol' science. Science's solution to animal health is antibiotics. Drugs. Those same drugs and antibiotics that wind up in the animals' milk and in our bellies. These antibiotics are not listed in the ingredients on the milk products. Vulnerable populations are ingesting drugs without knowing the dangers of prolonged exposure to anti-biotics.

"Most dairy producers take seriously the health of their animals and hygienic conditions on their farm for both the welfare of their animals and safety of their milk."

This sentence uses the term "animal welfare" to imply the animals' needs are being met in the most humane way. It would be helpful to define the term welfare. If we're talking about commercial dairies then the animals are given antibiotics, they're kept in concrete pens to keep them from interacting with all that dirty mud and moisture. They're fed processed, genetically altered alfalfa (if they're lucky, usually it's chemically treated corn and animal byproducts) or "feed" that's develped specifically to force them to produce more milk. Welfare by whose standards?

"Clearly, coming from nature, milk isn’t sterile and, as we’ve seen, significant percentages of natural samples contain bacteria that can make people sick. "

Yes, this was the same argument presented by my mother's OBGyn that kept her from breast feeding me. Didn't science change it's mind about breast milk over the course of my lifetime? Oh, and anytime someone starts a sentence with "clearly" you should raise your eyebrow incredulously. This is a word of intimidation. It implies that the evidence is sufficient to make her point clearly and any misunderstanding or disagreement is clearly our fault. She's been clear. If we disagree we must be confused.

"The marketing claims surrounding unpasteurized milk often give consumers a confusing maze of conflicting health information. "

Ah, here we go again. In one corner we have clarity. In the other we have confusion. Her science is clear. Marketing claims are confusing. Look around online. How many "marketing" claims are being made by small, private farmers regarding real milk? There is no mega-marketing machine disemminating unfounded claims about unpasteurized milk. Claims are being made by whom? Non-profit organizations. Small, family farms. Traditional food advocates. Grass roots activists.

“Raw-milk advocates suggest that unpasteurized milk products are completely safe and that they can prevent and treat a wide spectrum of diseases, including heart disease, kidney disease, cancer and lactose intolerance,” the Ohio State University professors documented."

No. That is not true. Raw milk advocates do not suggest that unpastuerized milk products are completely safe. Real milk advocates acknowledge the risks. They are informed. Nothing is completely safe. Only science makes claims about complete safety and they're usually proven wrong.

"Milk is also purported to contain substances that have bacteriostatic and antimicrobial properties and that pasteurization destroys them. “Scientific evidence to substantiate the assertions of the health benefits of unpasteurized milk is generally lacking,” the Ohio State experts said. "

Just because scientific evidence is lacking doesn't mean there is no evidence to be found. Pasteurization destroys everything that's alive in the milk. Good enzymes. Good bacteria (you do know that there are many bacteria that are good, right?)

"Pasteurization doesn’t cause appreciable losses in the levels or clinically meaningful activity of protein, vitamins, enzymes, milk sugars, immunoglobulin, and other components in milk, as they documented with clinical research. "

Oh dear God. Did they just use the phrase "clinically meaningful"?? As if the "clinic" is the only place to find reliable meaning. Clinics are funded. Who provides those funds? Big business. Entities that have lots of money to fund the clinical tests and trials. If it's clinically meaningful then we're talking about a context for meaning. Profitability. Please tell me which food or drug industry thrives on people being healthy. I'm interested in the meaningful activity of protein, vitamins, enzymes, milk sugars etc from other contexts of meaning.

“There is no credible or scientific evidence that raw milk produces any measurable health benefits,” Dr. Perry Kendall, M.D., British Columbia Provincial Health Officer, said in the Vancouver Province on December 19, 2008."

That's the same answer they're giving Jenny McCarthy who changed her kid's diet and got an immediate positive reaction from him. But that's anecdotal. Our lived experience is not considered credible or scientific and is therefore unreliable. We've been trained to believe that experts in lab coats know more than we do about our own bodies.

“Pasteurization of raw milk simply heats the milk to kill disease-causing bacteria, exactly the same process as when one cooks poultry or meat. Pasteurization of raw milk has prevented thousands of illnesses and deaths and is one of the great advances of public health of the 20th century."

Thank you Dr. Kendall. I feel so much safer now that you've used speculation and conjecture about thousands of deaths. Oh, and I like the use of the word "simply". It implies that anyone who has something negative to say about pasteurization is "simply" overreacting to the "simple" process of heating up the milk for our safety. Hey. Heat is not simple. Heat kills stuff. What if we prefer our food to contain living enzymes?

"According to Dr. Stephen Ostroff, M.D., a microbiologist and epidemiologist at the CDC before becoming the Director of the Bureau of Epidemiology of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, “some farmers are promoting raw milk in the mistaken belief that it is healthier or more nutritious.” But “the scientific evidence simply does not support this claim.”

Science has not looked for evidence that's why there is none. If all we have to rely on are our experiences that does not make us stupid or deficient. It means that science has some catching up to do. Get with it doc!

"Consumer choices and evaluations of the risks and benefits, however, don’t always follow the evidence or recommendations of experts. "

These folks are self-proclaimed experts. Within the academic and scientific community they have set their own standards of expertise and met them. They've decided for us what we should rely on as credible. Our own minds, concsiences, reactions, and state of being are not to be relied on as credible according to these experts.

“This problem is particularly complicated by the fact that individuals with established attitudes not only seek information that is supportive of their views,” professors LeJeune and Rajala-Schultz said. There is also the natural human tendency to unconsciously process information in a way that supports what we want to believe and be vulnerable to various logical fallacies, they explained."

And of course the scientific community never does that. He would have us believe that science is always objective and open. We're supposed to believe that scientific studies are never skewed, data is always reliable and statistics are facts. We're supposed to believe that science has no interest in supporting itself as the only realiable place to find meaning.

"Weighing the risks of getting sick, consumer advisories from the FDA and CDC and virtually all scientific organizations, say that unpasteurized milk, no matter how carefully it’s produced, can be unsafe and that the risks are not worth it. "

The use of the word "all" is misleading. She qualifies it with the word "virtually" so there must be exceptions. There must be at least one or two scientific organizations out there that offer a different perspective or she wouldn't have had to use the word "viturally". The fact that she only sites scientific organizations as making these claims also implies that there are other organizations out there making counter claims.
I would like to make my own decisions about what is or isn't worth it.

"Few parents would think to feed their children raw chicken, but might be tempted to believe raw milk is safer than the evidence suggests."

In other words real milk is comparatively equivalent to raw chicken?
We might have been tempted to believe that Phen-Phen was safer than than the evidence suggested since it was endorsed by the same scientific organizations we're supposed to be relying on to keep us safe from contaminants in our food. Let's ask the FDA how many tumors are permissable on chicken that's deemed safe for consumtion or how many rodent hairs or rat droppings are allowable in our foods. Google that. Find out the atrocities permitted by the FDA in the name of science and food safety. Try the film "Fast Food Nation" for starters.

"While the repetition of advisories and publication of consumer information on risks of consuming raw milk has been said to be a conspiracy against raw milk vendors, the scientific evidence demonstrates this is not the case."

No? I think it sounds like a conspiracy. Devoting time, money and energy to persecuting family farms rather than investigating the toxic effects of BGH (Bovine Growth Hormone click here) sounds like a conspiracy to me. What about the National Dairy Council? Whose interests are they shelling out money to protect; large commercial dairies or family farms?

"...raw milk has been linked to more than 90% of the cases of milk-borne illnesses, ten times the number linked to pasteurized milk."

Who is doing the linking? And what do we mean by milkbourne illnesses? If we're talking about acute symptoms then I doubt that any physician would even consider pasteurized milk as the culprit. Raw milk is counterculture. It's abberant. Of course the raw milk will get the bad rap. It's an easy way to diagnose an illness. Someone is doing something that's not sanctioned by the AMA and the FDA so it must be the cause of what ails you. When we're talking about misdiagnosed food allergies, chronic digestive disorders, poorly diagnosed neurological disorders, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and the like, the causes are not indicated and are often dismissed as either psychosomatic or of no particular cause. A person's diet, consisting of processed foods, pasteurizerd dairy, hormone injected meats and every other evil allowable by the scientifically sound FDA, is not considered when we're looking at chronic ailments.

"Sound science isn’t a conspiracy. Milk is a wholesome food packed with nutrients, but please make it pasteurized."

Please mind your own business. Here, all my readers have been linked to your carefully researched article. Consider your work done. We've been informed. Now let us make our own choices about what to put in our bodies.

"Addendum: This post, like all posts, was written after carefully reviewing all sides, including recent rebuttals by raw milk advocates, marketing claims, the original research and medical data. Raw milk claims proved frighteningly unsound, unscientific, and offering potentially dangerous medical advice for young parents, children and elderly. It is hoped that this information on the CDC and FDA data, as well as the CID report and the reviews of medical experts, will help you protect yourself and your family."

I don't believe she carefully reviewed all sides. She looked at data. I'm reminded of the orthopedist who "examined" my left knee. The pain and swelling were keeping me from walking, standing and working. I had already had an MRI revealing a torn meniscus. With no insurance surgery was out of the question. I was hoping the doctor could prescribe something to help me. He asked me questions. He looked at my chart. He barely looked me in the eye and he NEVER LOOKED AT MY KNEE. The man did not examine me. He did not ask me to bend my knee. He didn't palpate the area. He didn't even glance at my knee. He looked at the data. That was it. His advice? Take an anti-inflammatory and keep it elevated. Bye bye.

Look. I'm not telling you to run out and start consuming real milk from your local farmer. I'm not telling you to do anything. Information is out there. Arguments for and against are freely availbable to consumers. Real milk is not. It's regulated. The purchase of real milk and other family farm products is illegal in many states and in Canada.

All I'm asking is the freedom to make my own choices for my own body.
If the FDA sees fit to slap a warning label on the side of the artificial sweetener box KNOWING it has caused cancer in lab animals thereby allowing us to make our own choice whether to buy it or not, then can't we do the same for other products?

I've read the literature.
I've seen the data.
I'm informed.

Let me choose.
Don't do me any favors by trying to protect me from something that I believe is potentially life enhancing.

Today's sound science is tomorrow's recall.

The FDA is not my god.
Please don't force me to worship at your altar.

article: "The Dangers of Pasteurized, Homogenized Milk" (click here)

article: "What’s In Your Milk? An Exposé of Industry and Government Cover-Up on the DANGERS of the Genetically Engineered (rBGH) Milk You’re Drinking Introduction by Ben Cohen, Co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Foreword by Jeffrey M. Smith, author of the bestseller Seeds of Deception" (click here)


And yes, I AM a food renegade!!
(click here for more info)

*Lisa's Video Pick of the Day*
An introduction to the conversation between Mark McAfee (founder & owner of Organic Pastures Dairy: http://www.organicpastures.... and Dr. Dale Jacobson, DC (Jacobson Chiropractic in Nevada City, ...
An introduction to the conversation between Mark McAfee (founder & owner of Organic Pastures Dairy: and Dr. Dale Jacobson, DC (Jacobson Chiropractic in Nevada City, California:
Great article on "Why Organic Is Not Enough"
click here or click below

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2 comments: said...

Just had to say your blog title made me laugh out loud. It should be a bumpers sticker.

Keep Your Laws Out Of My Belly!

I love it!

Thanks for the rant,
(AKA FoodRenegade)

Zoy said...

Thank you sooooo much! I am sick and tierd of absence of raw milk! It is almost imposible to buy it in Canada! Why for God`s sake somebody has to allow or forbid what we should eat!?
Thanks again! Great post!
From Fighting Depression Demon at