Is Raw Milk Safe?

 

I’ve written about the safety of raw milk before in my Infoletter – Good Health Is Real Wealth, however, this issue came up again when I received an email from reader who read a blog post about Organic Pastures Dairy being sued over an E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak in 2006. The blog post was written by William D. Marler, the lawyer who brought the litigation against Organic Pastures.

Since I had never heard of this particular lawsuit, I started doing some research. I got in contact with Bill Marler himself, Sally Fallon (head of the Weston A. Price Organization and realmilk.com) and the CEO of Organic Pastures Dairy – Mark McAfee. What emerged was probably a representational picture of the raw milk issue in North America.

On the one side of debate, we have raw milk supporters (of which I’m one) saying that raw milk is a healthy superfood and the risk of infection, although present, is much lower than that of pasteurized milk. Indeed, there have been far more E. coli 0157:H7 outbreaks from pasteurized dairy products, than raw dairy.

On the other side of the issue, we have some powerful players who are resolutely opposed to the legalization of raw milk and who use the FDA and other regulatory bodies to harass and raid small raw milk farmers – sometimes with FBI officers with machine guns (believe it or not!) storming their farms. Why?

I suspect it has to do with money. If the mass public started demanding raw milk, the current large factory-farm dairy suppliers would be in a real fix. How could they possibly get their diseased, antibiotic-laced, hormone-enhanced cows to produce healthy milk? They would lose a LOT of money and many would simply go bankrupt. These are pretty strong motivators to maintain the status quo.

In addition, as raw milk gains acceptance and usage increases, who is losing customers? Who is making less money? Again, it’s the large agribusiness dairy corporation.

Then we have Bill Marler (officially, William D. Marler) – a lawyer who specializes in foodborne illness litigation, who is blogging and publishing rather avidly against raw milk. What are his motivators? Is he an FDA-pawn (as some have accused), or is he primarily motivated by the desire to make money from a contentious issue? Or, has he been very negatively affected by his raw milk litigation cases, feeling that someone has to trumpet the dangers?

I had a lot of emails back and forth with Bill, with him sending me documents from the local State and CDC investigations of the Organic Pastures incident in 2006. But I don’t want to get into debating all that here – for one side of the argument, you can go to Bill Marler’s site and download the documents yourself. For the other side of the argument, go to www.realmilk.com (Sally Fallon’s site) and scroll down the homepage – there you can download their rebuttal for each of Marler’s assertions.

For those of you that want the short-version summary of the case: Bill Marler says he built a really strong case against Organic Pastures (OP) and the grocery stores that sold the milk, using data from the State of California investigation and the CDC. He says they sat down with OP, the grocery stores and all the insurance companies and a settlement was reached, so the case never went to court. He is legally prohibited from giving details of the settlement.

Mark McAfee (Organic Pasture’s founder and CEO) says that yes, they all sat down together, however OP refused to settle and their evidence was strong enough that they were happy to go to court. But, the insurance companies didn’t want to go to court and insisted on a settlement instead. The upside was that OP’s insurance company renewed their policy for the next year at a lower rate. Also the State of California presented OP with a letter of retraction and a cheque to cover their expenses. As I said, you can look at the original documents from both sides and draw your own conclusions – I think it’s pretty clear.

But, I’m interested in going beyond all that and telling you what transpired in my phone conversation with Bill Marler. First of all, he is a surprising man to talk to, because I expected to get a lot of lawyerly “I can’t comment on that” statements. Instead, I found a fairly laid-back, open person who was genuinely interested in discussion.

For someone so publicly anti-raw milk, Marler told me that he’s actually quite conflicted about raw milk, since he grew up drinking raw milk on his family’s farm (where his father still lives and now farms bees).

He said there’s no point in banning raw milk – Prohibition didn’t work, and neither would prohibiting raw milk. What he says he’s after is a balanced portrayal of the risks involved with raw milk consumption and other foods he considers risky: like factory farmed meat and agribusiness produce.

His fear is that as raw milk becomes a profitable commodity (i.e. large-scale farming), the likelihood of an outbreak increases. So then I asked him, “Okay, in light of what you’ve seen and experienced, what would you do regarding raw milk – what measures would you put in place?”

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Marler said he would like to see raw milk throughout the country follow the Washington state model – with small farmers selling directly to consumers. He would also like to see pathogen-testing at various points along the line, not just of the packaged milk.

He said this is important because it tells you about your milking process and you would be able to pinpoint how and where exactly something is going wrong. For example, it may not be the cow that is the problem, it might be your collection tank, or a certain part of a certain machine, for example.

Marler maintains that he is a big supporter of Michael Pollan – recently footing the bill personally for Pollan to speak at an upcoming symposium at Washington State University. Marler emphasized repeatedly that he is in favour of sustainable farming and eating locally.

So, either Bill Marler is hosing me, presenting himself entirely as someone he’s not. Or, the raw milk-advocate camp and the raw milk-litigation camp are closer on this issue than we imagine.

I mean really, don’t we all want the same things?

  • None of us want pathogens (disease-causing microorganisms) in the milk
  • We all want to drink milk only from cows that are really healthy
  • We all agree that factory farming, big agribusiness and flying food around the world are not healthy, sustainable practices
  • We all want to do everything we can to prevent outbreaks of foodborne illnesses
  • None of us are claiming that raw milk is never infected with pathogens, we are saying that the risk is minimal; compared to the health benefits, and compared to pasteurized milk

I guess the big questions remaining are:

1. Why just focus on raw milk? In spite of pasteurization, pasteurized milk has caused far more foodborne illness than raw milk. In addition, about 2% of pasteurized milk is infected with Mycobacterium Avium Paratuberculosis (MAP) – a bacterial/fungal hybrid thought to be one of the causes of Crohn’s Disease, since it’s DNA has been found in 92-100% of people with Crohn’s (incidence varies across studies). Pasteurization does not kill MAP, not even ultra-high temperature (UHT) pasteurization can kill it.

2. If we want to keep raw milk pathogen-free, is the solution really more testing and sterilization, or would we be better served by looking at the overall microbial environment? After all, bacteria follow the rule of “competitive exclusion”, i.e. if there are enough good bacteria present, the bad bacteria go away. Perhaps we could all work together to educate each other and ascertain which really are the best procedures for keeping raw milk (and pasteurized milk) pathogen-free.

3. Perhaps we could also collaborate on healthy farming practices and milk-to-consumer channels. None of us wants to see raw milk being factory farmed.

I wonder if Mark McAfee and Sally Fallon are surprised at what came out of my conversation with Bill Marler? Perhaps they feel that actions speak louder than words and his actions to date are adversarial. Perhaps they are wondering if Bill is shifting a little in his stance, and is ready to explore a more collaborative position…

Personally, I buy my raw milk from a small dairy farm in Washington State (the milk is available in a few local stores), where the cows are out on the pasture, in fresh air, and the farmer tests for pathogens in excess of State regulations. So I agree with Marler, it’s a good system.

I’d like to know what Sally Fallon and Mark McAfee think of all this…..

soar higher,
Jini

32 Comments

32 thoughts on “Is Raw Milk Safe?

  1. Gini,

    Excellent blog and you have the facts straight….good job!!

    Raw milk is a whole food and is the rare source of the biologic diversity and rare and essential enzymes and good fats missing in 1st world nations super processed and sterile diets…..it is happily consumed by 50,000 people per week in CA purchased from 400 stores. Demand is crazy. There is no lactose intolerance and it heals: Asthma, bone density issues, excema, allergies, Crohns, IBS and Ulcers not to mentions the prevention of cold and flu. The NIH says the same thing about probiotics including “Ancient Milk” ( the FDA word for raw milk ) at the NIH website that discusses alterative medicine and how foods are used to heal and prevent disease.

    We are Bacteriosapiens….we must embrace all the good sources of bacteria that we can. If not….we will be subject to their wrath and disease will be upon us all. Our immune system is 80% or more the good bacteria working for us and with us!!!

    95% of the cells in the human body are bacteria….that should make you think twice about your next bite of a sterile food or the next antibiotic you take. It is you that you are killing.

    Raw milk is only for those intetested in health and living a long healthy happy life!!

    Everyone else should avoid it.

    All the best,

    Mark Mcafee
    Founder Organic Pastures Dairy Fresno CA



  2. Marler’s story about the OP case is very different from Mark McAfee’s. Whom to believe? When Marler took this case, he posted a video on utube showing one of the children, Chris Martin, sick in a hospital bed and hooked up to a ventilator. The date on the video was close to the date when Mark McAfee visited the child–the child was sitting up in bed, not on a ventilator and eating normal food. . . . after Mark notified Marler that the dates and the dialogue information on his video were incorrect, he took it down. Looks like Marler’s staff made a phony video and took advantage of a child for his own aggrandisement.

    Another example: Marler compiled a list of over 100 studies purporting to show that raw milk is dangerous. The Weston A. Price Foundation did a careful analysis of these studies and showed that the vast majority of them were highly biased and would not hold up in a court of law. In fact, it was obvious that some intern had done an internet search of “raw milk” and “illness” or “outbreak” without even bothering to read what the search came up with because a number of these citations are reports of outbreaks traced to pasteurized milk, reviews focusing on the dangers of pasteurized milk, or letters to the editor supporting the right of consumers to purchase raw milk! (Read the whole analysis at http://realmilk.com/documents/ResponsetoMarlerListofStudies.pdf). So much for the integrity of William Marler.

    If Marler says he supports raw milk yet continues persecuting raw milk producers, he has a lesson to learn: You cannot serve God and mammon. Marler hedges by saying that raw milk should come from small farms, but that is not a model that will work in the state of California. Basically what Marler tried to do in California was take away raw milk from all the people who depend on it, including my daughter and grandchild. I’m siding with Mark McAfee on this one. There are a lot of Californians who can be extremely grateful to Mark for not backing down to the bullies at CDFA and ambulance-chasing law firms.



  3. Hmmm, Sally, Sally, Sally, why so angry? Why the name calling? I must admit, you remind me more and more of how the right-wing and the Bush Administration treated everyone who even thought of having a different opinion. Frankly, it is pathetic.

    For those interested in the facts, I did two pieces on raw milk – the Pros on Raw Milk:

    http://www.marlerblog.com/2008/06/articles/lawyer-oped/raw-milk-pros-review-of-the-peerreviewed-literature/

    And, the Cons on Raw Milk:

    http://www.marlerblog.com/2008/06/articles/lawyer-oped/raw-milk-cons-review-of-the-peerreviewed-literature/

    Clearly, I need to do a third to set your spin correct.

    As for the video, if Mark and you would like me to post it again along with the medical records showing the condition of the Martin child at the time the video was done, I would be happy to do so.

    Bottom line, CDC, California Health Department and several respected Epidemiologists linked OP to the E. coli O157:H7 illnesses. That is a fact. You and Mark may disagree with those facts – as is your right.

    As for the “integrity of William Marler” – I am proud to represent people poisoned by companies who care more about sales than they do about safety. Me as a pawn of big business, the FDA or anyone is a joke – as are you.



  4. Do you have pictures of the best positions for crapping when constipated? Thanks.



  5. You idiots are making a political, legal and financial issue out of what should be and IS a health issue. Jini, I am disappointed you would stoop to this level of “debate”, this kind of “information” is what makes me want to unsubscribe from your newsletter and never read your blog again!



  6. I drink raw milk and eat raw cheese every day. I consider both to be premium foods and am happy to pay a premium price for them.

    I’m also very confident in my supplier, a small farm in Massachusetts under the shadow of Gillette Stadium. (Literally…the back entrance to Gillette Stadium, home to the New England Patriots, is about 200 yards down the road from the farm entrance! Who would ever think?)

    And I think the supplier is absolutely the key. Are they genuinely knowledgeable about animal husbandry? (The only way you’re going to find that out is by taking the time to learn about it yourself and then asking the supplier questions.) For example, how many cows graze per acre? (This will vary on the area of the country – how much rainfall, how “rich” the pasture is, etc.) What is the pasture management plan that is in use? (If there isn’t one…uh, uh.) Ask to see the barns where the animals spend the night. It’s not going to be clean like an operating room (impossible), but it should be generally neat, clean, and organized. Ask to see the cows themselves. Are their coats glossy? Are they well-fleshed, with “soft” eyes? Are they interested in what’s going on around them? (To some extent, this will depend – they might be mainly interested in eating at the time! – but you don’t want to see them looking “dull” or “sunken”, either.)

    Every part of the dairy (where the milk is handled), however, should approach surgical standards. Healthy animals produce healthy milk (and meat and eggs – depending on the kind of animals we’re talking about here!), but great milk CAN become contaminated and unfit for consumption if it’s processed on dirty machinery. Just common sense. You wouldn’t continue eating off the same dish and with the same silverware without washing them between meals, right? So ask your supplier how they clean their machinery and how often. You can learn a bit about machinery sanitation at:

    http://www.uwex.edu/milkquality/PDF/Vol_3_pdf/Pg_3_76-82_milking_machine_sanitation.pdf

    So I’m very comfortable drinking milk from my supplier. If it were raw (it’s not), I’d feel comfortable drinking milk from the small, local dairy where my brother-in-law is the manager. I’d feel comfortable drinking milk from a company like Organic Pastures. If I ever fulfill my dream to have a couple of Toggenberg does (female goats), I’ll certainly drink that milk raw.

    However, raw or not, I *wouldn’t* drink milk from a company that buys up milk from multiple farms and then processes it in a large plant. Too many risks.

    And if a supplier wasn’t managing his or her herd, pastures, and machinery properly (again, you have to educate yourself so that you can ask meaningful questions to differentiate a great supplier from an iffy one), I’d consider the product too risky – whether it was raw or pasteurized.

    My two cents…

    Nicole



  7. Thanks for a great, fair post that helps make sense of the issue and the debate. I feel smarter now.



  8. My family thrives on raw milk. clearned up my daughter’s milk allergies by switching to raw. The raw butter is especially healing too.



  9. interesting.
    I live and help run my partners dairy farm in Australia – we have 200 head of cattle.
    I was shocked initially to discover how the milk is obtained from the cows and stored.
    We drink our own milk – unpasteurized, unhomogenized . We use it for cooking, drinking straight, cups of teas etc. And it is absolutely beautiful.
    My mother has crohns, and i recently have been diagnosed with colitis – a week ago i was admitted into hospital, with an infection of campylobacter jejuni..
    one possible cause of the campylobacter jejuni – unpasteurized milk. After discussing the possible cause with the doctor – he said it was most likely the tank water, and not the milk.
    I plan to keep using our milk, it is amazingly tastful, with friends travelling upto 400km from Melbourne to fill up dozens of glass bottles for thier own consumption.

    Jini – your comment about “their diseased, antibiotic-laced, hormone-enhanced cows to produce healthy milk?”
    I feel is a generlization – i dont know the state of dairies in America, but for australia, there are VERY strict guidelines about the use of anti biotics, whilst disease control is fundamental in the longevity of the dairy itself.
    We supply to a large scale company, and yes, in Australia, its illegal to sell our milk for private oral consumption.

    Also – please keep in mind that the pasteurization process itself isnt designed to kill 100% of the microorganisms – but instead is used to kill a majority.
    Very different statements when being used in a debate.



  10. Wow…lots of excitement here.

    As far as Bill is concerned. I look forward to having 100,000 people drinking raw milk in CA in the next year ( right now there are about 55,000 per week drinking raw milk ). There are several more dairies beginning the process of conversion to organic, grass feeding and raw production ( inspected by the State )…it will be wonderful to have more dairy farm educators helping people understand the intentional confusion brought about by false advertizing of the GOT DEAD MILK campaign in CA and the truth about state inspected clean raw milk.

    Actually…I am not going to say anything bad about Bill Marler. I actually think he is a potential partner in raw milk. He grew up drinking raw milk and understands that it is a healing food. He just wants it to be safe and from trusted sources….just like I do. All the negative bather is waste water and I have better things to do. The facts I have posted are undisputed facts. Bill is incorrect…there was no link to OPDC….yet the state officials said it was the mostly source. This statement was not supported by evidence. A signed settlement and payment was given to OPDC for the damaging and unsubstantiated recall. Any pathogens that were found in our young heifers manure were different in their genetic finger print than those found in the one child. Even Bill will say this is true. There were no pathogens found in any raw milk at OPDC.

    What is most troubling is the fact that no attention is being paid to the three people that died in MA in 2007 from perfectly pasteurized milk….from Whittier farms. I get the impression that “two possible (fully recovered) sick kids that did not share the same pathogen” from raw milk are more important to discuss than three dead Americans from pastuerized milk. What have we become???? Why is there no discussion of the 5500 Americans that will die from Asthma this year when taking FDA asthma medicines. When if they were drinking raw milk…their asthma would have been resolved ( PARSIFAL Study EU data )and they would not have died. Raw milk is a massive smoke screen to cover the horrendous disaster in modern medicine and complete lack of prevention through nutrition. Modern medicine is killing us by the droves. MRSA and Asthma and surgeries gone bad, drug reactions, kills millions every year. None of this would happen…if we were all immune strong and eating a whole food diet. None of these deaths!!!! Thats the discussion. Raw milk is the distraction away from the ongoing funerals at the feet of the FDA disaster.

    Campylobacter is a very common bacterial infection source. Prior to 1972 it was classified as common travelers diarrhea. Most people that drink raw milk have immunity to campy ( positive titer ). Some people with very weak immune systems can become quite sick from it. Raw milk for the common public should be tested and inspected. if it is a family source perhaps not….rarely do farm families become ill from drinking pathogen filled raw milk….they are immune to bad bugs…to them bad bugs are just bugs….no big deal. For the rest of society that has been sterilized….watch out.

    All the best,

    Mark McAfee
    Founder OPDC



  11. I was the reader who stumbled across the article on the internet. I then emailed Jini to see if she knew anything about. I’d like to share my experience with raw dairy. I have Crohn’s Disease and this past December, I was in an all time low. I had done 8 weeks of the elemental diet (with 2 days in between to test phase one foods which didn’t go so well) My body rejected EVERYTHING!!! I was so weak and had lost so much weight I didn’t recognize myself. I am the only one I know that didn’t tolerate the high dose of probiotics. Looking back I probably took too much, I don’t know. I was desperate. After many consultations with my naturopath and Dr. Carolyn Dean I decided to have a personal consultation with Jini. One of the most important recommendations from her was raw milk. Well, I was so dairy intolerant that I was skeptical at best. After much thought, I decided to consume small amounts of kefir and then raw milk suggested by Jini. In time I was able to consume more with no problem. I was soooo happy. Not only it was delicious and my body didn’t reject it but also it was nourishing me. MOST importantly it gave me the probiotics my body so desperately needed but in a gentle way. I can honestly say and I know that this is true when I tell you that I’m able to consume so much more foods because of the introduction to such a perfect super food. I make my own yogurt now and my whole family loves it. Jini thanks for the recipe. We eat the cheese and consume a fair amount of that beautiful butter. The cream is out of this world. YUM. I feel whole because I’m eating whole. I sometimes feel angry that all these years I drank tampered food (pasteurized milk) I’m convinced that environmental factors, antibiotics, vaccinations, and pasteurized milk was a huge reason for my getting the disease. I was born and raised in Iran and I remember in elementary school we had to write an essay about the wonderful benefits of pasteurization. ridiculous! Thank you Organic Pastures for providing such a wonderful product, Just the way God intended it. And thank you Jini for keeping us informed.

    Love,

    Caroline



  12. Caroline’s story is farm from unique. I have known many with Crohn’s who have found relief via raw milk. People who would otherwise be dead or dieing at the hands of conventional medicine.



  13. Hi all, it’s been many years challenging with the lactose intolerance. I have discovered that I have Chron’s this last year and need better variety as well as quality nutrition. I have managed to make my yogurt from Lactaid milk, and found a cheese that is old and aged which I can digest and process without pain and you have no idea how comforting it is to be able to find nutrition that doesn’t hurt you in some ways. So, since this cheese is made via raw milk I am getting to be more pro raw milk as you can imagine. The proof is in the RAW Milk since it is the only type I have been able to ingest without pain, gas, constipation or heartburns… amazing. Since I live in Canada and it is illegal to purchase Raw milk, the only items so far have been lactaid milk which is still not a total winner for me as I feel there could be better nutritional values if I could get some Raw milk instead, but the cheese has been my closes success in Canada. I am very much in favor to have Raw milk available to those who wishes to purchase with the criterias improved in farm, as to eliminate certain disease in cow’s and such. But not making it available at all for people like myself with Chron’s is totally vicious and murderous if I can use such language on line. Having to live with pain, and being without proper nutrition is just that one too many challenges I speak of. Hope we can all soon see Raw milk as the daily staple available to those individuals who wants it and need it most. Thanks for sharing your comments and wealth of knowledge, and please keep up the good work and help bring good health to those who wish it most.



  14. Hi Nathalie,

    Google Michael Schmidt as he is working in Canada to get raw milk legalized.

    Also, if you’re close to the US border, you can just drive across and get your raw milk every week. It is legal to bring in $20 of raw milk at a time to Canada (they just want to make sure you’re not on-selling it and that it’s for personal use only).

    Lastly, you can make your yoghurt with regular organic milk – just ferment it for 24 hours and all the lactose will be gone. This means that you make it exactly the same way, just leave it warm for 24 hours and then put it in the fridge. Also, use Natren’s Yoghurt Starter for the most beneficial probiotic yoghurt.

    take care,
    Jini



  15. John Tesh on his weekly informational radio show said somethign very compelling yesterday.

    Researchers when following “chicken trucks” with open windows in their cars ( in the eastern US ) took samples of surfaces in their cars and of the air…guess what.?… They were covered with Salmonella.

    So the human immune system is critical. If little amounts of pathogens are everywhere, then our best protection is to be immune from them. Avoidance is an invitation to serious illness and worse.

    So all of you “pathogen bacteriaphobics”….drink some biodiverse raw milk and start doing your immune system pushups or get sick with the rest of the weak and soon to be sick.

    Remember this also….raw milk that is retail approved must be 100% pathogen free. That means cleaner than the air found driving down the street miles behind a chicken truck.

    The earthly petri disc we all live in is not sterile….so lets get over it.

    Mark McAfee



  16. Jini,

    Over at The Complete Patient, Mark McAfee has apologized to me for misrepresenting some facts about our case, specifically regarding Chris’ video. I’ve asked Mark to contact you about removing the evidence list he sent you about the OPDC 2006 outbreak. Most of these “facts” are incorrect. I would appreciate it if you could remove it from this website, as well as Sally Fallon’s comment about my son’s video. There was nothing phony about my son’s video.

    I am sure Mark McAfee has contacted you about this. I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of his apology and how important it is that only truthful facts be told about the children involved in the OPDC 2006 outbreak.

    Below is the information that has been posted on TCP.

    Thank You,

    Mary McGonigle-Martin

    http://www.thecompletepatient.com/journal/2009/9/28/cracks-in-the-foundation-new-research-reviews-suggest-anti-r.html#comments

    Mark,

    It pleases me to hear that you are taking all necessary steps to assure the safety of your raw milk. The fact that you were outsourcing products during the timeframe of the 2006 outbreak was quite disturbing. I hope this practice has been stopped.

    Also, I do appreciate your kind words of forgiveness and healing. As you know, a settlement for our case was reached in April 2009. You posted the information below in June 2009. The majority of the facts are wrong. After 3 long years of emotional turmoil, I guess many facts got skewed a bit.

    To demonstrate your sincerity and to reach a place of forgiveness and healing, this is the first place that false information needs to be removed. Please contact the owner of this blog and have fact #1, 2, 3, 7, 10, & 11 removed, as well as the very last sentence, from your evidence list. These statements are all false.

    http://www.listen2yourgut.com/blog/gut/is-raw-milk-safe/

    Thank you,
    Mary

    Some hard data from Sept 2006 Organic Pastures Dairy Raw Milk recall:

    1. Only two kids were hospitalized as a result of the recall. The state had initially claimed that up to four or maybe even sex kids had been sickened. When the search for sick kids was completed…only two were ever sick.

    Fact: This outbreak involved 6 kids who become ill from E.coli 0157:H7 infection. 5 of the 6 had matching genetic fingerprints. Two developed HUS, Chris Martin and Lauren Herzog, and were hospitalized for a significant period of time. The four other children did not develop a serious enough case of E.coli 0157:H7 to be hospitalized, however they were ill enough for doctors to culture a stool sample. Ill means they probably had a painful, extreme case of diarrhea that lasted 7-10 days.

    2. The two sick kids recovered fully in less than four weeks and have no remaining illness or injury.

    Fact: Lauren was in the hospital for 5 weeks and Chris for 8. Lauren has stage one kidney disease as a result of ingesting a pathogen. She takes medication to assist her kidneys in operating correctly.

    3. The two sick kids did not have matching pathogens. One had E.coli 0157:H7 and the other did not have that pathogen and instead had Shigella.

    Fact: Lauren’s stool culture tested positive for E.coli 0157:H7 and Chris’ stool samples never tested positive for any bacteria, however, it did test positive for the Shiga toxin, although this was verbally told to us in the hospital. We did not find a positive test in the medical records. In the United States, a child can’t develop diarrheal HUS without first having E.coli.

    4. No Organic Pastures Dairy company (OPDC) product had any pathogens found in them.

    Fact: Not at the time of the 2006 recall. The products were pulled from the shelves September 22nd. Chris and Lauren consumed OPDC raw milk between September 2nd and 4th. Approximately 18 days passed before any product was tested. There was not a product available to test with the expiration dates the Martin’s and Herzog’s had on their milk bottles. In the past, Listeria was found in his bottled cream. However, Mark doesn’t count this because it was cream that had been outsourced.

    5. No milk cow at OPDC had any pathogen found in their manure tests. The three E.coli 0157:H7 positive cows were not in the milk herd and were not milk cows. They were young heifers and the pathogen that they had was a different and unrelated genetic fingerprint than the sick child. The DHS concluded that no cows at OPDC were connected by DNA fingerprint to any person or the sick child.

    Fact: the cows were tested in late October and early November. The outbreak occurred in early September.

    6. None of the hundreds of products tested by OPDC had any pathogens detected in them.

    Fact: same as # 4

    7. The two kids’ medical records both show that they had eaten raw CA Salinas spinach in the days prior to becoming ill.

    Fact: Chris Martin also ate Spinach, but it was not Dole Packaged Spinach that was implicated in the recall. He ate spinach that was purchased from an open bin at the local health food store. Lauren Herzog did not eat spinach.

    8. The so-called raw milk outbreak occurred during the very peak of the spinach crisis…when not one pathogen had ever been detected in six year of intensive raw milk testing by CDFA and OPDC. Statistically this a very suspect. It appeared to us that there were additional spinach genetic fingerprints that the spinach people refused to acknowledge.

    Fact: Once again spinning the facts. Same as # 7

    9. About 40,000 additional raw milk consumers drank the same raw milk and no other persons got sick!

    Fact: Six children were sick enough to be taken to the doctors and have stool samples tested or to be placed in the hospital. This does not mean that other children or adults were not sick during this time period from OPDC raw milk. It only means it wasn’t documented.

    10. Kids in the same families that drank raw milk and did not eat spinach did not get sick.

    Fact: same as # 7. Also, it is very common for a family to all eat a contaminated food source and not everyone becomes ill.

    11. The two kids that got sick were both given antibiotics when they were wearing bracelets that warned medical providers to not give antibiotics because an antibiotic-resistant pathogen was suspected. Doctors screwed up and gave huge dosages of antibiotics to these kids and within hours they nearly died.

    Fact: This is a complete fabrication. This did not happen and it is not documented in the medical records. It was an idea that we had after the fact. This idea was document in a newspaper article. http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2006/11/26/news/californian/20_59_3711_25_06.txt

    The Martins said they are also in the process of meeting with a few hospital ombudsmen to make sure that what happened to Chris does not happen to another child.

    They said that if the first doctor Chris saw when he went into the hospital on the first night would have put a wristband on him noting that he should not receive a dose of antibiotics, then the second doctor may not have administered the dose that sent Chris spiraling into trauma.

    “All they needed was one little wristband,” Mary said.

    12. The state gave OPDC their raw milk permit back 10 days after it was suspended. The findings concluded that pathogens could not be found at OPDC or in any of our products.

    Fact: Same as # 4

    What I find outrageous…is this…three people died in Massachusetts in 2007 from perfectly pasteurized milk…yet it is hardly news. We are blamed with two illnesses, which fully recover, and we are huge news…there is something wrong about this.

    Fact: Both children did not fully recover. Lauren Herzog has stage one kidney disease. The Massachusetts story was big news and I’m sure the families are suing the dairy. What made the OPDC outbreak such a big deal was that two children almost died and they happened to be at the same hospital.

    – Mark McAfee



  17. Well said!

    This is why they are treating asthmatics and allergy-ridden kids with microbe-rich African dirt and getting rid of Crohn’s symptoms with Helminth worms (from pigs).

    It is not all about the microbe, it is also about susceptibility.



  18. I’m going to start an outreach to families here in California, particularly the furloughed state workers who probably can’t afford Mark’s milk right now. I am going to let them come to my property and clean out the chicken coop to help with their immunity. I won’t charge them a penny.



  19. Get to the children first! The chicken coop could be a bit much for an adult whose immunities are not built up, eh?



  20. Jini mentioned “competitive exclusion” in her post — that the beneficial properties in milk kill pathogens. I published a “white paper” on the topic at RawMilkWhitePapers.com. Ted Beals wrote a response in the fall 2009 issue of Wise Traditions. I have posted a response here:

    http://www.rebuild-from-depression.com/blog/2009/10/does_raw_milk_kill_pathogens_a.html

    My argument is that raw milk does not kill pathogens thoroughly, consistently, and quickly enough to ensure consumer safety. Perhaps Sally Fallon could comment on that issue as well on her way to the Marler Blog.

    Amanda



  21. Having read through Bill Marler’s latest post (link given above), it still made me think about what I wrote in my original post that sparked all this discussion:

    At the end of the day, we all want the same thing – access to safe, nutritionally-dense, healthy foods.

    I agree that just because milk is raw, doesn’t mean it’s safe. And that drinking any animal’s breastmilk is a direct way of ingesting potentially really beneficial substances, OR if the animal is unhealthy, milked in unsanitary conditions, etc. then it is also a very direct way of ingesting pathogens.

    I have personally visited the farm where I buy my milk and I have seen all the conditions surrounding the cow’s environment, milking, bottling, etc. These cows are also kept on grass year-round (supplemented in the winter with hay, etc.) and rigorously tested for pathogens (beyond the State requirements). The man who farms these cows is well-educated, scrupulous and his entire family down to his tiny grandkids drinks this milk.

    However, when we went down to Phoenix one year, I bought raw milk there and it did not feel good to me. My son also developed loose stools. Well, hello, it’s the DESERT, there is no grass for the cows to eat. In addition, if I were to continue drinking that milk, I would want to find out what they were using as the water supply. Because the city water is incredibly chlorinated in the Phoenix area and if they had their own well, then what was the treatment and testing carried out on their well water? If the cows are not drinking healthy mineralized water, then they will not be producing very healthy milk.

    So yes, I too look forward to Mark or Sally’s comments on Bill’s latest posting. And my other question is: Have raw milk farmers gotten together and established some sort of “rules” for healthy cows, milk, milking, bottling, etc? Because obviously, they cannot use the same guidelines as pasteurized milk – which, were it not pasteurized would likely kill/sicken millions!



  22. Amanda – you quoted me as stating that:

    “Jini mentioned “competitive exclusion” in her post — that the beneficial properties in milk kill pathogens.”

    Sorry for the misunderstanding, but no, I was not referring to the milk itself when I wrote about “competitive exclusion”, I was referring to the gut environment. Which ties into something else we all seem to be referring to: pathogens.

    However, dependent upon the immune system and microflora of the person, the same cup of raw milk (or spinach, or factory-farmed hamburger) may be pathogenic (disease-causing) to one person, but not to another.

    At any rate, I found your article very interesting and it is definitely important information that people need to know. I find it interesting that Indians (in India) always boil milk before drinking – and in general, theirs is a fairly “unsanitary” environment. The Masai in Kenya drink it raw – but their environment is not overcrowded and laden with parasites, garbage and feces.

    So again, we need a full disclosure of the facts and realities surrounding raw milk, so people can make truly informed decisions. And we also need codified procedures in place so that unscrupulous (or ignorant) farmers do not produce pathogenic milk. I liked it when you wrote this in your article:

    “If folks are like me and know there is a real long chance of getting a parasite from sushi or a bad bug from raw milk and consume it anyway, more power to them.”

    When I lived in Tokyo, I noticed many Japanese taking worm powders from time to time. But when people talk about sushi here, they are horrified about the possibility of ingesting a worm from raw fish! God forbid that we would ever encounter any food that was not completely sterile! Ah, but that’s a whole other topic…

    take care,
    Jini





  23. Here are some fantastic quotes from Joel Salatin, Joel is the owner of Polyface Farm — which was featured in Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma and the documentary film Food, Inc. He is also author of the book Everything I want to do is illegal: War stories from the local food front:

    “Isn’t it curious that at this juncture in our culture’s evolution, we collectively believe Twinkies, Lucky Charms, and Coca-Cola are safe foods, but compost-grown tomatoes and raw milk are not? With legislation moving through Congress demanding that all agricultural practices be “science-based,” I believe our food system is at Wounded Knee. I do not believe that is an overstatement….

    “The ultimate test of a tyrannical society or a free society is how it responds to its lunatic fringe. A strong, self-confident, free society tolerates and enjoys the fringe people who come up with zany notions. Indeed, most people later labeled geniuses were dubbed whacko by their contemporary mainstream society. So what does a culture do with weirdos who actually believe they have a right to choose what to feed their internal three-trillion-member community?
    The only reason the right to food choice was not guaranteed in the Bill of Rights is because the Founders of America could not have envisioned a day when selling a glass of raw milk or homemade pickles to a neighbor would be outlawed. At the time, such a thought was as strange as levitation….
    “Certainly some of this clash represents the difference between nurturing and dominating. The local heritage food movement—the raw milk movement—is all about respecting and honoring indigenous wisdom. The industrial mind-set worships techno-glitzy gadgetry and views heritage food advocates as simpletons and Luddites. Or dangerous criminals….

    “The same curative properties espoused by raw milk advocates exist in a host of other food products, from homemade pound cake and potpies to pepperoni and pastured chicken. Real food is what developed our internal intestinal community. And it sure didn’t develop on food from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and genetically modified potatoes that are partly human and partly tomato. Long after human cleverness has run its course, compost piles will still grow the best tomatoes and grazing cows will still yield one of nature’s perfect foods: raw milk.”

    You can read this entire excellent article at:
    http://www.grist.org/article/2009-11-03-i-drink-raw-milk-sold-illegally-on-the-underground-market



  24. Hi Jini,

    You mentioned you buy your raw milk from a small dairy farm in WA. Which dairy is that? My family lives near Vancouver, WA and is looking into raw milk from a nearby location. It seems you are well-informed about your milk and happy with the farm you’re currently purchasing from. I’d love to have a recommendation for a sanitary, certified organic, pasture-fed (grain-free feed). I apologize to ask such an off-topic question—there are so many fun conversations going on in this thread!

    Thanks so much! Fabulous article.

    All the best,

    Almira



  25. Hi Almira – the farm actually sells its milk in stores – like the Community Co-Op. Due to FDA harassment, they don’t sell off their farm anymore. I’m actually a bit hesitant to mention their name anymore as I don’t want any more focus on them by FDA nasties… If you ask at the Community Co-op, they can tell you which dairies are local. By the way, liked your site – you set me off on watching a pile of vids about ultramarathons! And their feet afterwards, egads!



  26. Hi All,

    I posted earlier in regards to that i actually live on a dairy farm.. and that we drink our unpasterized milk.

    I fell pregnancy in January 2010 – and in late Sept 2010, had a healthy baby boy – during this time, i ate the recommended ”pregnancy exclusion diet”.. with the odd naughty here or there..
    I didnt drink the milk from the farm – instead i either went with out.. or purchased store milk.. and i suffered for it – upset stomach, cramps, gas etc
    Now baby is born, im back onto the good stuff, and guess what.. no more problems !!!!!

    Bill Marler – im reading the article you posted about the Alexandre Eco Farms Camplyobacter outbreak.. and i quote

    “” We reviewed the patient’s medical record and interviewed her husband to assess her symptoms and exposures. We used polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and multilocus sequence typing (MLST) to test a six-week old unpasteurized milk sample, obtained from the cow leasing-program and partially consumed by the patient, for genes encoding the bacterial membrane component lipooligosaccharide (LOS) in GBS-associated Campylobacter jenuni. ”

    A SIX WEEK OLD milk sample.. Would you drink pasterized milk that was 6 weeks old ?
    The article itself seems weak in actual facts – yes she drank raw milk, yes she now has GBS – but there are other factors which cause GBS, and there is NO mention of them excluding them to the cause of her condition.



  27. Hi Jini!

    Yes, barefoot runners are crazy—and I’m totally one of them. My feet do get a bit callused too, but I love it! I just feel so free when I’m running unshod. ;D I totally understand about keeping that wonderful small dairy farm safe. I’ll tell my family to check out the Co-op. It is actually for my mother who has Crohn’s disease. I’ve been meaning to post her story/journey through Crohn’s/Colitis on my website (and it has been a LONG one with many ups and downs). Thank you for your recent posts about Crohn’s, Colitis, IBD, etc! It has been really helpful to find some of the other things people are doing to combat their diseases—oregano oil for one was something I wasn’t aware of and that Absorb Plus shake product I’ll have to look into! Essentially we’ve incorporated the SCD, raw foods, and juicing to keep her alive, but there really is no magic pill and we quickly realized that she will always have to be a purist in her eating habits, which I suppose we all should be! Thank you for putting this plethora of great resources into one place here on your blog!

    Thanks and all the best to you!

    Almira



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