Tuesday, February 21, 2012
CDC has a Raw Milk Problem
If you didn't already know that I used to be a member (well, technically I still am a member through the Spring, at which time I won't be renewing) of a cultish like group that claims superior health benefits from drinking raw milk and claims raw milk is inherently safe because it kills pathogenic bacteria, well, now you do. Dear Sally Fallon of the Weston A. Price Foundation and any other group that makes such wholly inaccurate claims: "Here's your sign"
Why the angst? I used to feed raw milk to my children from Organic Pastures dairy and Claravale dairy, the two legal and regulated dairies in California. I blindly listened to Sally Fallon and thought it was safe! Back in August, when I was shocked out of my idealistic sunshine and rainbows world by the Healthy Family Farms/Rawesome saga, I spoke with a lady who is very close to raw milk politics here in California. The inevitable questions she always gets from the newly enlightened raw milkies like myself are somewhere along these lines: "Should I drink the raw milk? Should I feed it to my kids?" Her answer to such a query from me, loosely paraphrased: "I've drunk enough raw milk in my life to know that my campy titers are probably through the roof." "Campy?" I said. "Campylobacter, it's a raw milk pathogen." "Oh" I said, sheepishly, feeling guilty about never knowing such a pathogen could exist in my raw milk. "As for my children, well, they probably don't have as much immunity as I do." I was crushed. From then on I continued to buy Claravale milk only for myself but Strauss for the kids. Organic Pastures had a history of outbreaks, I soon learned. But Claravale, I reasoned, had never been associated with an outbreak in CA. They are a small operation with a closed herd. They MUST do it right, and their milk MUST be the safest, I hoped.
Well, after following raw milk politics closely since that August of 2011, Organic Pastures came down with an e.coli outbreak that sickened 5 children with 3 hospitalized. A raw milk dairy called "Your Family Cow" in Pennsylvania had a "campy" outbreak that sickened at last count 77 people.
The latest Campy outbreak, and perhaps most depressing for myself, is out of, you guessed it, Claravale. This farm was held up by some members of WAPF as a model raw milk dairy. I haven't met Ron Garthwaite, owner of Claravale, but I've heard he is a true dairyman and takes his raw milk quite seriously. The fact that he isn't such a smooth talking salesman like Mr. McAfee of Organic Pastures kinda endeared me to the guy. My heart breaks because I used to by his milk for my children. Just like with Organic Pastures dairy, those sick kids could have been mine. Those sick adults could have been me.
Thank you, dear Ethicurian, for helping my put my head on straight and sort through the disillusion. After reading this blog post, you might understand why we moms get a little bit ticked off when it comes to lies about raw milk.
I'd like to leave you with a comment on this post on The Complete Patient blog from a person who claims to have been sickened in the outbreak from the Pennsylvania dairy, "Your Family Cow". Just in case you might follow the raw milk supporters line of reasoning and feel that Campylobacter is not such a big deal: