In light of recent events involving Campylobacter being linked to a Raw Milk dairy farm in PA that I purchase from, I feel strongly compelled to write why I think this does and does not matter. I am certain that there are people who drink raw milk for it’s benefits without thinking of the potential risks. I know I did. However, my farmer was quick to tell me that it is ALWAYS possible to have raw milk be tainted with the bad bacteria no matter how clean a farm is. So, I drank with the full knowledge that someday it might make me sick, but believing that the benefits outweigh the risk.
What Causes the Bad Bacteria in Raw Milk?
Over the last year or so, I have been researching options to have my own small farm just to raise my own food. Of course, I don’t blindly assume that it’s easy. I need to know whether I can actually do it. I am still in the researching phase of this. But in the process of researching, I stumbled across a post from GNOWFGLINS which talked about the differences between cow and goat farming. In it, the article discusses how cows tend to defecate while being milked. And Campylobacter is a result of a cow’s bacteria from the poo getting into the milk.
Even pasteurized milk has the potential to have Campylobacter in it. The difference is ALL of the LIVE cultures, good and bad, are killed with high heat processes. ALL of them. However, pasteurized milk is not without it’s risks. In fact, I would argue that it is even more dangerous because the good bacteria is no longer present to counteract any bad bacteria that may still linger. Some examples to follow later.
What is Campylobacter?
By now, most of the MD, PA, WV area (and really the nation) knows that a local organic family farm that sells raw milk in PA has been blamed for causing Campylobacter bacteria in several people. I am not making light of this. It is serious, especially for people with ‘compromised’ immune systems. And I highly suggest anyone with a compromised immune system not drink raw milk unless they have first attempted the GAPS program to address healing their gut.
According to the CDC, Campylobacter is the most common bacteria for causing a combination of diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, affecting 2.4 million people each year. Most of those cases go undiagnosed. In fact, hospitals won’t even check for Campylobacter unless you state that you drink raw milk or another food politically labeled to be ‘bad’.
Symptoms usually begin 2 to 5 days after contact and can last anywhere from 2-5 days. Campylobacter is self-limiting and most people recover without any added intervention except plenty of liquids and rest.
Again, not to downplay how Campylobacter can affect some small parts of the population — in cases of compromised immune systems, you should not drink it. But for most people, the BENEFITS outweigh the RISK that could be a RARE , if ever, couple of days in bed.
Benefits of Raw Milk over Pasteurized Milk
There are many people smarter than I that have written volumes of information on the subject of raw milk. Just because it CAN make you sick on a rare occasion, does NOT mean that you SHOULD drink pasteurized milk (which by the way, can make you sick too and is VERY often under reported which I will get to in a moment). I pulled this information from the RealMilk.com website. They have documented research in scientific journals to prove their premise:
PROTECTIVE COMPONENTS: Raw milk contains numerous components that assist in:
- Killing pathogens in the milk (lactoperoxidase, lactoferrin, leukocytes, macrophages, neutrophils, antibodies, medium chain fatty acids, lysozyme, B12 binding protein, bifidus factor, beneficial bacteria);
- Preventing pathogen absorption across the intestinal wall (polysaccharides, oligosaccharides, mucins, fibronectin, glycomacropeptides, bifidus factor, beneficial bacteria);
- Strengthening the Immune System (lymphocytes, immunoglobulins, antibodies, hormones and growth factors) (Scientific American, December 1995; British J of Nutrition, 2000:84(Suppl. 1):S3-S10, S75-S80, S81-S89).
PASTEURIZATION is HARMFUL: Many of these anti-microbial and immune-enhancing components are greatly reduced in effectiveness by pasteurization, and completely destroyed by ultra-pasteurization (Scientific American, December 1995; British J of Nutrition, 2000:84(Suppl. 1):S3-S10, S75-S80, S81-S89).
DANGERS EXAGGERATED: Although raw milk, like any food, can become contaminated and cause illness, the dangers of raw milk are greatly exaggerated. In an analysis of reports on 70 outbreaks attributed to raw milk, we found many examples of reporting bias, errors and poor analysis resulting in most outbreaks having either no valid positive milk sample or no valid statistical association (ResponsetoMarlerListofStudies.pdf).
USDA/FDA STATISTICS: Based on data in a 2003 USDA/FDA report: Compared to raw milk there are 515 times more illnesses from L-mono due to deli meats and 29 times more illness from L-mono due to pasteurized milk. On a PER-SERVING BASIS, deli meats were TEN times more likely than raw milk to cause illness (Intrepretive Summary – Listeria Monocytogenes Risk Assessment, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Sept. 2003, page 17).
OUTBREAKS DUE TO PASTEURIZED MILK: Due to high-volume distribution and its comparative lack of anti-microbial components, pasteurized milk when contaminated has caused numerous widespread and serious outbreaks of illness, including a 1984-5 outbreak afflicting almost 200,000 people. In 2007, three people died in Massachusetts from illness caused by contaminated pasteurized milk (Real Milk PowerPoint, slide 30).
FORTY-YEAR-OLD SCIENCE AND ANCIENT HISTORY: Claims that raw milk is unsafe are based on 40-year-old science and century-old experiences from distillery dairy “factory farms” in rapidly urbanizing nineteenth century America.
MODERN ADVANTAGES: Compared to 30-50 years ago, dairy farmers today can take advantage of many advancements that contribute to a dramatically safer product including pasture grazing, herd testing, effective cleaning systems, refrigeration and easier, significantly less expensive, more accessible and more sophisticated milk and herd disease testing techniques.
UNIQUE FOOD: Raw milk is the ONLY food that has extensive built-in safety mechanisms and numerous components to create a healthy immune system.Pasteurized Milk Illness in PA Last Summer
Pasteurized Milk Made People SICK Last Summer in PA
So far you have gotten a lot of facts from me. But what you are about to hear is a little bit of anger. Because this incident at my raw milk farm is being so overblown by the media, yet cases of pasteurized milk contamination goes UN-REPORTED! It is infuriating.
Last summer there was an outbreak of Yersinia enterocolitica. which is similar to Campylobacter. At least 12 people were made SICK by PASTEURIZED MILK. See here: 2011-PAHAN-0221-10-31-ADV
I don’t remember hearing about THIS in the news report? Why? And Why did they start REPORTS about contamination before it was proven at the Raw Milk farm that I purchase from? EVEN BEFORE the TESTS were IN! YET, the only time I knew about the Pasteurized Milk contamination report was when I was researching the PA Health department page AFTER the events had been confirmed!! No big overblown scare here! No ambulance chaser lawyers knocking on the doors of litigation over pasteurized milk being blamed for the illness it caused!
All Foods Have Potential to Make You Sick!
This is MEDIA BIAS — Plain and simple. It is meant to scare you away from drinking real milk — RAW MILK. EVERY SINGLE FOOD THAT YOU PUT IN YOUR BODY CAN MAKE YOU SICK! EVERY.SINGLE.ONE!!
- REMEMBER the Spinach Scare?
- REMEMBER the Tomato Scare?
- REMEMBER the contaminated turkey? (granted it’s Cargill – CAFO meat, but still this is purported to be ‘safe’ to eat by our ‘trusty’ government)
- REMEMBER the Cantaloupe Scare?
Honestly, these days I am MORE afraid of the things that are killing me SLOWLY that no one notices, than the things that make me physically ill immediately. Your body is sick because it is DOING it’s JOB! It is purging the illness naturally! It is fighting the bacteria that is not supposed to be there. However, your body was not made to fight the the unnatural processes and chemicals that are added to our modern day convenience foods.
Some things that have been called ‘food’ are not nourishing at all and these have long-term consequences that have yet to be acknowledged by mainstream medical professionals. This is why this blog exists. We exist to speak the truth where it is not being proclaimed in the mainstream media or medical world.
Now, you are free to choose what you want to believe. But I will continue to purchase raw milk or I won’t drink milk at all!! BTW, if you have been blessed by your farmer and the hard work they are doing, be sure to tell them! They shoulder a lot of responsibility to feed us. I posted a thank you to mine here.
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