CDC exaggerates the dangers of raw milk.

February 26, 2012 | 
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The United States government deliberately misinforms or misleads the American public on various matters.  It does so in order to manipulate public opinion about those matters and, therefore, to further the interests of large industry.

The following is an example.

On February 21, 2012, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released a study titled Nonpasteurized Dairy Products, Disease Outbreaks, and State Law–United States, 1993-2006.  This study purports to address the comparative rates of illnesses caused by raw dairy versus pasteurized dairy and whether those rates differ in states in which it is legal versus states in which it is illegal.  For purposes of this study, the category of dairy included cheese and yogurt.

According to the study:

  1. From 1993 to 2006, there were a total of 4,413 reported illnesses from all dairy products of which the pasteurization status was known.  Of these illnesses, 36% involved raw dairy, and 64% involved pasteurized dairy.
  2. The above illnesses occurred during 121 outbreaks, of which 60% involved raw dairy, and 40% involved pasteurized dairy.
  3. Among those who became ill, 239 were hospitalized because of their illness.  Of those, 202 had consumed raw dairy, and 37 had consumed pasteurized dairy.
  4. Of those who became ill, 3 people died.  Of those, 1 died as a result of consuming raw dairy, and 2 died as a result of consuming pasteurized dairy.
  5. Among the illnesses involving raw diary, 73% occurred in states in which it was legal to consume raw dairy.

According to the study, because raw dairy is consumed far less often than pasteurized dairy, raw dairy causes proportionately greater outbreaks, illness, hospitalization, and deaths than pasteurized dairy.

Real, raw, alive, delicious milk.

One day following the CDC’s release of the above-study, on February 22, 2012, the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) published a rebuttal titled CDC Cherry Picks Data to Make Case Against Raw Milk.  In it, the WAPF makes the following salient points:

First, the illnesses caused by all milk products are minuscule compared to the illnesses caused by other foods.  Sally Fallon Morell, president of the WAPF, states, “There are almost 24,000 foodborne illnesses reported each year on average. Whether pasteurized or not, dairy products are simply not a high risk product.”  The decision by the FDA and other food-safety agencies to focus so much of their resources on raw milk when its risk is so minor indicates that its concern for raw milk lies somewhere other than safety.

Second, the study did not explain the CDC’s decision to include such a narrow portion of time in relation to the amount of CDC data available.  It excluded data starting in 2007, in which at least 135 people became ill and 3 people died as a result of consuming pasteurized milk.  And it did not explain its decision to exclude data from the 1980′s.  According to Kimberly Hartke of the WAPF, “In 1985, there were over 16,000 confirmed cases of Salmonella infection that were traced back to pasteurized milk from a single dairy. Surveys estimated that the actual number of people who became ill in that outbreak were over 168,000, ‘making this the largest outbreak of salmonellosis ever identified in the United States’ at that time,” quoting an article from the Journal of the American Medical Association.  According to Fallon Morell, “the authors’ decision to cut the time frame short, as compared to the available CDC data, is troubling and adds to questions about the bias in this publication.”

Furthermore, the CDC study included data from states in which the sale of raw dairy was illegal.  By doing so, it decided not to distinguish between raw dairy products produced safely under state inspection, and raw dairy products produced under questionable conditions and without inspection.  The later obviously have a greater risk of contamination.

Finally, the CDC, when it estimated the number of people who consume raw dairy, deliberately underestimated such number by using old information.  It used data from a 1996-97 CDC study, which showed that no more than 1.5% of people consume raw dairy.  Its own recent survey conducted in 2006-2007 showed that 3% of Americans, or 9 million people, more than the total population of New Jersey, consume raw dairy.  The more accurate figure greatly reduces the proportionate risk of illness from raw dairy compared to pasteurized dairy.

In addition to those points presented by the WAPF, I would add the following:

The CDC study is inherently flawed because consuming healthy food always carries some risk, as I described at length in my post titled There is No Such Thing As Completely Safe Food.  Nevertheless, that risk is greatly offset by the increased health and vitality that one obtains by consuming food that is alive, natural, and that contains all its enzymes and vitamins intact.  The CDC study does not consider this.  It does not consider the reduction of other illnesses that result from consuming raw dairy.  And it does not consider the substantial increase of other illnesses caused by consuming pasteurized milk.  In other words, among those who consume raw milk, for every person who contracted a foodborne illness, thousands receive vastly improved immunity and health and therefore are better able to avoid other illnesses.  Conversely, those who consume pasteurized milk may avoid some increased risk of foodborne illness, albeit extremely slight, however, they are at a substantially increased risk of contracting other illnesses as a result of consuming food that has been processed.

So, in regards to raw milk, even with a minuscule increased risk of illness, I say, “That’s life.  Cheers, and drink up.”


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