Friday, April 13, 2012

E.coli 0157:H7 in your Raw Milk

This week has reinvigorated my interest in Raw Milk Politics, especially surrounding E.coli 0157:H7.

Why? It seems an unlikely topic of obsession for me since we have removed dairy from our family diet temporarily for health and dietary reasons. However, I wrestle with raw milk because, like a lot of raw milkies, I frankly prefer the flavor of raw milk over pasteurized. I often wonder if I will ever drink it again?

I also read "Poisoned" this week and learned quite a bit about e.coli 0157:H7, and it answered many of my lingering questions about the subject.

Bill Marler is that ambulance chasing personal injury lawyer according to some in the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) crowd. I've also seen this reference many a time in the comments section on The Complete Patient blog. What doesn't hold water for me is their total disdain for him. This is the guy who gets financial compensation for those who have gotten seriously sick from tainted food, whether it be Cargill, Odwalla, Jack in the Box, or your mom and pop raw milk farmer. He has done his fair share to try to clean up the system. Far from being an ambulance chaser, he is internet and marketing savvy and knows how to put his agenda out there. "Poisoned" shows his personal and family life, political savvy and work ethic, and ultimately, his humanity. I hope you will consider reading it. It is well written and I could hardly put it down!

After reading it I learned that the author, Jeff Benedict, lives the life I dream of! His homesteading wife, Lydia, convinced him to write a book about food politics and food borne illness. That this author comes to admire and befriend Bill Marler and chooses to make him the central character in his compelling true life story is telling of Mr. Marler's character:

Yesterday, and probably not-by-coincidence on her birthday, Mr. Marler's Food Safety News published the story of Mary McGonigle-Martin. One of Marler's more famous (infamous?) raw milk cases involves Chris and Mary Martin vs. McAfee of Organic Pastures Dairy Company. I've extolled Mary's virtues on this blog before here and here, but now she really has gone and done it with this article. The reason there is so much mis-information regarding her son's illness are the blatant lies told and spun by the likes of Mark McAfee and Sally Fallon. They've been told, warned, and asked to stop repeating these lies.  Once and for all Mary called them out this week publicly on Food Safety News.

Seriously, Sally Fallon and WAPFers, it's time to put the lies about the Martin case behind you and move on. One lie, specifically, is that Chris Martin ate spinach and that is how he contracted e.coli 0157:H7, because his case happened to occur at the same time as the Dole Spinach outbreak. Marler also handled most of the e.coli 0157:H7 cases against Dole for that spinach outbreak, and has said numerous times that if the evidence showed that Chris was part of the spinach outbreak, he would have been included in Dole spinach litigation and not raw milk litigation. However, the Chris's case centered on the fact that Chris consumed OPDC raw milk. The second red herring promulgated by Fallon, which can be found here, is that Chris was given anti-biotics which is given as the explanation as to why he developed HUS from the e.coli infection. Yes, antibiotics, especially certain types, are contraindicated in suspected e.coli cases. But the fact remains that about 10% of e.coli 0157:H7 cases go on to contract HUS. Chris Martin contracted a severe e.coli 0157:H7 infection from drinking raw milk and developed HUS, whether antibiotics were at play or not is a side argument and distracts from the original vector: raw milk. The third red herring is that this case was settled out of court, and McAfee and the raw milkers, including Fallon, have insinuated that this is because there was not enough evidence to bring it to trial or some other such rot. What if the opposite is true? Could it possibly be that it was settled out of court on a sum that cannot be disclosed, because like most personal injury cases settled out of court it are financially favorable for the injured client? Hmmmmm...

Chris Martin in the hospital. fighting for his young life.

I think this passage is worth a reprint here:
"Victimized again by falsehoods

My experience with these characters has been appalling. My son's near-death experience was hell to pay for my mistake, but I was not prepared for the second victimization. Rather than acknowledge the tremendous harm done in the first Organic Pastures outbreak, and then  search for the reasons this happened to avoid future problems, they chose a different, rather slimy path to muddy the truth and deflect any culpability.

Their reaction was morbid. The lies began immediately about our son's case and some of these falsehoods could be found on the Weston A. Price Foundation website. I wrote to Sally Fallon requesting that she remove the distortions. Instead of honoring my appeal, she injected these pathetic fabrications into Ron Schmidt's updated version of his book. This whole matter was very twisted and patently shows how they would hawk their souls to convince their followers that raw milk is always safe to drink.        

People who choose raw milk for themselves or their families believe they are making an informed decision. They believe the benefits outweigh the risks. They have read the Schmidt's book or literature endorsed by WAPF. However, a truly informed decision should also address the potential health consequences. Until both sides are presented and considered, any decision to consume raw milk is based on propaganda and ignorance.

I was ignorant and I have spoken to many others who have become ill or who have had children that became ill after consuming contaminated raw milk. Sadly, they all believed the risks were minimal, which brings me to bottom line: would any mother's choose raw milk for their children if they knew that it could seriously harm or even kill them? Never!"

Mary was gracious enough to recommend Nourishing Traditions, despite the history of lies told by the likes of Fallon and the WAPF crowd.

"One final thought about Sally Fallon: despite my believing she is completely irresponsible promoting the consumption of raw milk to infants and children, her cookbook "Nourishing Traditions" does have excellent information.  This book is like having your grandmother in the kitchen passing down generations of food preparation wisdom. Food fermentation, both dairy and vegetable, is a focus for obtaining beneficial bacteria. Sally Fallon writes that people can obtain beneficial bacteria from kefir and yogurt made with pasteurized milk, so I'm not sure how or why the hyper-focus on raw milk emerged. So, if you are looking for a healthier way to eat, follow the suggestions in her book and just disregard everything you read about raw milk."

Mary and Chris, in more recent and happier times.

 Over and over again Mary has shown the courage of a mama lion. I've got your back, Mother Mary. Call me anytime.

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