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The raw milk controversy

posted by Russ, July 28 in health & diet with tags ,

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Last weekend I caught a segment on NPR about the controversy over raw milk and dairy products, and then yesterday my friend sent me an article from the Los Angeles Times with similar content. In short, due to the possibility for E coli or salmonella contamination, the FDA has banned raw milk and dairy products in many states, stating that consuming them poses a health risk.

First of all, I will not say that I don’t believe there is a risk in consuming raw products, but for the FDA to ban them is outright crazy. The FDA is after all, the same organization that regularly approves drugs, both over the counter and dcotor prescribed, that can and do kill people all time. According to the first article, “raw milk can contain deadly bacteria like E. coli and salmonella and has sickened more than a thousand people since 1998”, and recently was “blamed for sickening 30 people in Colorado”. In my opinion, 1000 people since 1998 doesn’t seem like that much of a threat, after all, how often do you hear about people overdosing on FDA approved drugs? I’d be willing to bet my life that it’s certainly more than 1000 people in 10 years, wouldn’t you? And here the FDA is worried about people getting sick from raw milk? I just can’t believe that the FDA is even trying to tackle this one.

Even more crazy is the fact that in my local health food store, there is a warning sign hanging above the raw sprouts, stating that they may contain harmful bacteria that can make me sick. Why are there no warning signs hanging at McDonalds, KFC, Burger King or over the grossly processed freezer meals or the 1000 calorie and 70 grams of fat Hungry Man meals regularly sold in mainstream grocery stores? You tell me, which do you think is more likely to kill you in the long run?

Someone interviewed in the NPR article pointed out this inconsistency, noting that you can go to the store and buy beer, liquor, and cigarettes no problem, yet the FDA wants to mandate that you cannot drink raw milk. Even more absurd is the fact that it’s been documented many times over how lax the FDA is in regulating the growth and slaughter of meat and poultry, where bacterial contamination in these products is commonplace, even with their supposed oversight and regulation.

I would also like to note that E coli and salmonella are not just a potential hazard in raw milk, but in addition to beef and poultry as I already mentioned, these nasties can additionally can be found in eggs and even on produce, as proven by past spinach infections. But the goverment tries to “protect” us from the bacteria in meat by making laws stating that restaurants having to cook meat to certain temperatures to kill the bacteria, and by recalling tainted produce. But they don’t make eating rare steaks or raw eggs at home illegal, so why should they regulate consumption of raw dairy?

Humans have, for thousands of years, been consuming both raw and cooked meats, raw dairy, and raw produce. Certainly people have died due to food borne illness, and of course there is still the risk of food borne illness when sanitation is lacking during food production, but rather than try to change how we have eaten for thousands of years, and force us to only to eat only certain products which in many cases don’t even resemble anything that nature can produce or have been pasteruized and effectively had a good amount of nutrients killed through this process, why can’t the FDA work on fixing the system that turns out tainted food in the first place? If the FDA would ban factory farming, and actually enforce proper sanitation in the production of our food, the risk of these deadly bacteria even entering our food chain would be reduced. Or at least in the absense of that, simply let us decide what we want to eat. After all, the FDA does let us choose whether we want McDonalds, KFC, or a six pack of beer for dinner, all of which are worse for us that a glass of raw milk anyway.

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Originally posted on Wednesday, July 28th, 2010 at 6:03 AM .

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