Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Raw Milk: What's the Big Deal?

In this Bloomberg article about a farmer acquitted in a raw milk trial, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims raw milk products were responsible for at least 93 disease outbreaks from 1998-2009, causing 1,837 illnesses, 195 hospitalizations, and two deaths.

Ummm, ok?  And where's the cost/benefit analysis?  Do you think the CDC might have one?  Well, I couldn't find one, but here is their scare page//Warning:  extremely graphic like President Obama's dire predictions of the certain armageddon of sequester - Ensure you have medical emergency devices handy to treat shock or possible cardiac events and access to call 911 for emergency services before clicking either link//

Looking at the new "report" they just issued, "Non-Pasteurized Dairy Products, Disease Outbreaks, and State Laws-United States, 1993-2006", it claims "We found 121 outbreaks for which the product’s pasteurization status was known; among these, 73 (60%) involved nonpasteurized products and resulted in 1,571 cases, 202 hospitalizations, and 2 deaths."  Of course the same report shows that those 60% of outbreaks attributed to non-pasteurized products caused only 36% of the total reported cases of illness, meaning that pasteurized products caused 64% of the reported cases of illness in a lower number of outbreaks. 

Further on, it claims 4/48 outbreaks from pasteurized products "probably resulted" from post-pasteurization contamination by infected food handlers. 

It goes on to attribute another 3/48 pasteurized outbreaks to "probable" failure of consumers to store the products at the appropriate temperature.  Hmmm...  WTF is that?!?  That may apply to individual cases of an illness or two in a family, but for an entire outbreak traced back to a specific food batch? 

Also notice that in the report, such speculations of post-farm production contaminations in the retail/food handling chain or consumer handling procedures are strangely absent for the non-pasteurized products.

Also interesting is that all 73 outbreaks from the non-pasteurized products (milk and cheese) were determined to be due to bacteria, yet 13/30 (44%) (which is kind of strange in itself, since there were 48 total outbreaks from pasteurized products, so apparently they have no idea what the cause was in 18 of them?!?) of the pasteurized product caused outbreaks were due to norovirus.  Is it safe for us to now assume that norovirus infections from non-pasteurized products are non-existant?  Of course not.  In layman's terms, what that indicates is that the CDC has not produced a real report, but rather a piece of propaganda with crappy/limited data. 

Just look at the following graph of their data:

 
Hmmmm....  What's with the years 93-97?  Are we to believe that milk related outbreaks were practically non-existant 20 years ago and all this disease is a new phenomenon or there is only a more recent pandemic developing?  Or perhaps they can convince us that the seemingly exploding number of cases may be attributable to global warming?  Naaaaaaaahhh...  Again, chalk it up to crappy data.
 
 
Imagine: What if?
 
For perspective, I always like to compare dissimilar things...  For if you look at just the situation like that with raw milk by itself, the effects may look like they warrant government action.  However, think about government incursions into other market sectors and you'll see they're spending a lot of money acting rashly for little, if any, effect.
 
So imagine, if you will, the government applying this same process they are using to attack raw milk producers to something like motorcycles.  I'd bet there are a lot more deaths attributable to motorcycles in a single month than in what we saw them report over 13 years of raw milk consumption.  What if they attacked that industry in favor of only allowing people to drive around in four wheel cages because they are so much more safe?   "But, but, but... wait a minute.  Motorcycles are much more cost efficient and burn less fossil fuels", you might say.  Similar to the war on raw milk producers, "Big deal, it will save on deaths, period.  So suck it up" is their answer.
 
Let's get even more drastic and say they ban automobiles too and force you to take trains or buses without regard to inconveniences or limitations on personal mobility.  Well, that's essentially what they are doing with raw milk.  There is absolutely no cost/benefit analysis at all, just half-assed "studies" and "reports" that highlight scary things and downplay or even just plain hide the not-so-scary facts and the personal benefits.  In effect, they're making a minor problem seem so much bigger and scarier than it really is.
 
Of course it will be hard for them to take on the motorcycle or automobile manufacturing giants.  But it sure isn't hard for the CDC, FDA and state health agencies to gang up and destroy small family farmers living on meager sales of raw milk products.  Just look at what they did to Joe and Denise Dixon from Morningland Dairy.
 
So what's the bottomline here?
 
Well, according to the data sets in that most recent report from the CDC, a total of 3 people died and a few thousand more got sick allegedly from consuming both raw and pasteurized milk products over a 13 year period.  Considering the hundreds of millions of people in the US who might drink milk and eat cheese every day, those numbers prove the overall risks to be quite miniscule
 
If you start looking for the number of court cases involving these small family farm raw milk producers, you'll see they're mostly farmers fighting big government, not product liability claims.  The CDC and health agencies are spending considerable resources attacking the smaller raw milk producers and trying to put them out of business apparently only because they have been associated with more outbreaks (and they also have less deep pockets to fight back), but those producers also service smaller pools of consumers.  So the effect of outbreaks attributable to them would be much more limited than those associated with the larger factory farm producers who do pasteurize their products.  They are therefore expending scarce resources attacking those who put less people at risk of major large-scale outbreaks which could probably be better used elsewhere for real problems, not these imaginary ones.
 
So, as always, believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.  Always question everything.  Especially question it if it comes from a government agency, because their sole reason for existance is a perceived problem (whether one exists or not).  So if there are no problems, you can be sure they're certainly working hard to create the appearance of one.
 
They came for our cigarettes.  Then they came for our water wasting toilets and gave us ones you have to flush more to get rid of number 2's.  Then they came for our incandescent light bulbs and gave us more toxic ones.  Now they're coming for our raw milk and even our guns.  When will it end?  Or more importantly, how will it end?
 
(Update:  5 Mar 13)
 
This "Scary Drink" May Resolve Your Troubling Health Issues, 1 Jan 12 - According to Dr Mercola the CDC may be misrepresenting those two deaths they linked to raw milk and they may be attributable to a specific type of cheese, Queso Fresco, that is illegal under FDA regulations. 

61 comments:

  1. Frank, did I read that correctly? In the fourteen year inclusive period of 1993 to 2006 there were TWO DEATHS in America from this plague? And from the looks of that graph, at least ONE of them may have been from unpasteurized milk?

    Something MUST be done! How can our country survive like this? Next thing you know, MOTHERS will start feeding BABIES milk from their... their... their dirty pillows without putting them in the microwave first!

    The Horror of it! The Humanity!!!!!

    - MJM

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL... Hi, Michael! Actually, it was 3 total, two alleged from unpasteurized products (but see the link in the update) and one from pasteurized. I'm watching Dr Mercola's interview with Mark McAfee right now at that link and it's quite interesting.

      Delete
    2. Ahh! OK! I read it a bit too fast! THREE deaths? My God! We're gonna run out of people at this rate!! Maybe it's a Communist Plot!

      Wait! I know! It's a stealth plot against CHOCOLATE!!! They figure that if they can get rid of enough milk drinkers that the worldwide demand for chocolate will go down and they can corner the market! Since chocolate has been determined to be one of the most addictive drugs known to humankind, they'll have us by the milk nipples!

      ::sigh::

      The world is doomed.

      - MJM

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