Opinion: The Other E. coli Threat? Raw Milk
A CNN opinion piece written by Alex Berezow, PhD microbiologist and editor of RealClearScience.
The strain of E. coli that has killed at least 25 people and sickened more than 2,600 others in Europe is a terrifying reminder that killer microbes lurk in places where we least expect them. Though it is not a reason to panic, this incident should force us to rethink some important food safety issues.
One good place to start would be to completely ban the sale of raw milk and juice.
In April, the FDA cracked down on an Amish raw milk producer for selling its product across state lines without proper labeling, both of which are in violation of federal law. This predictably led to cries of “big government” telling people what they can and cannot eat. But given the effects of the deadly microbe that has been creeping across Europe’s food supply, the FDA’s decision is looking very responsible.
Raw food, in particular unpasteurized milk and juice, poses a very specific public safety risk that is unrelated to dietary concerns. Consuming a diet loaded with fat and salt is unhealthy, but the government has no business regulating that. Raw milk, however, is different. Unpasteurized milk has a greater chance of being contaminated with disease-causing bacteria than pasteurized milk.
Milking a cow is a fundamentally dirty process. The Seattle Times vividly recounted the story of a dairy cow defecating and splattering a raw milk producer in the face. The farmer hardly noticed and kept milking the cow. Because cows naturally carry harmful bacteria in their intestines, it is not a surprise that E. coli from his farm was later found in sick patients who had consumed his milk.
Real Life Dangers of Raw Milk
Several families offered to share their stories on video to help raise awareness about the potential risks and negative effects on health from drinking contaminated raw milk.Real Life Stories