By Robert Cohen Executive Director Text Only





      February of 1999 has been filled with news stories confirming the worst fears of the dairy industry. Reports of bacterial infections in milk given to kids in the Dominican Republic caused 1,000 schoolchildren to become ill. Fifty of those children were hospitalized. Contaminated milk contained samples of 22 different bacteria. At the same time in America, a nationwide milk recall was ordered for 270,000 cases of milk products due to possible Listeria contamination. Kohler Mix Specialties of Minnesota first recalled milk and dairy products from supermarket shelves in eight Midwest states, then expanded the recall to include all 50 states.

      Tests on unsealed cartons of skim milk revealed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes. Symptoms of Listeria infection can occur up to 45 days after ingesting a tainted product. Beware the Ides of March. The Listeria bacteria can cause fatal infections in young children and the elderly. Healthy people may suffer flu-like symptoms. Pasteurization does not work. Every American knows this. Odoriferous milk from your refrigerator is dumped on day ten, but eaten with cereal on day nine. Do you wonder what you are drinking? Twenty-two different bacterium were naturally cultured from pasteurized milk in the Dominican Republic.


      The USDA and FDA have recently revealed that Americans might be ingesting too many antibiotics in meat. The official announcements did not mention milk, yet cows and steers are treated with the same antibiotics and the average American eats significantly more milk and dairy products than meat.


      After genetically engineering the bovine growth hormone, Monsanto learned that cows were getting mastitis, painful ulcers on their udders which resulted in an increase in pus, blood and bacteria in milk. Monsanto arranged to have their top scientist, Margaret Miller, hired by FDA where she reviewed her own research. Aware that dairymen would have to treat cows with more antibiotics, Miller simply raised the allowable levels of antimicrobials farmers could put in milk.


      Miller arbitrarily increased the allowable level by one hundred times -- from one part per hundred million to one part per million!

      On March 16, 1994, a letter signed "concerned CVM employees" was circulated to members of Congress, GAO, Dr. David Kessler (Commissioner of FDA), the Inspector General of the United States Richard P. Kusserow, and Michael Hansen of Consumer's Union. The letter in part reads:

      "Dr. Miller (wrote) a policy on use of antimicrobials in milk. She picked an arbitrary and scientifically unsupported number of 1 part-per-million as being the allowable amount of antimicrobial in milk permitted without any consumer safety testing. This is for any antimicrobial. A cow could be treated with several antibiotics and each one would be permitted to be in milk at a level of 1ppm without additional consumer safety testing. Effects of the different antibiotics could be additive and this is not taken into account."

      Michael Hansen of Consumers Reports testified and brought attention to Congressional committees that 52 drugs are known to be used as antibiotics to treat mastitis. According to Consumer's Union, FDA had approved only 30 of those antibiotics. Milk is routinely tested for the presence of six different antibiotics. Farmers are aware of the antibiotics being tested. Do you imagine they might be tempted to use any of the other 46 not currently being tested?


      When something doesn't work for the dairy industry the FDA often helps private industry by changing the standard. This does not make the product any safer but it does allow the FDA to officially state that the drug residue is "well within safe levels." This is usually done at the expense of the consumer.

      Margaret Miller's name recently "popped up into the news" again. It seems that FDA recently approved a powerful liquid antibiotic for lactating dairy cows. It is called:


      Before approval, FDA allowed residues of 30 parts per billion of this antibiotic to show up in milk samples. Unfortunately, milk samples tested out at 300 parts per billion. What did FDA do? They changed the standard! The new standard is now 300 parts per billion!

      There is evidence of both comedy and tragedy...The Dannon Yogurt Company cannot use this milk because the antibiotic kills the acidophilus which they add to their cultured product. Not so cultured, huh? FDA approved this product, and whose name do you think they have as contact for more information? None other than Margaret Miller, Ph.D. Her phone number is 301-827-5282. Let Dr. Miller know how happy you are about arbitrary changes in antibiotic protocols. Give her number to your congressman and demand an investigation.


      The World Health Organization (WHO) recently conducted an assessment of the health risks of dioxins in Geneva, Switzerland. Peter Montague, who writes RACHEL'S ENVIRONMENTAL NEWSLETTER, obtained copies of the unofficial report. Hundreds of past issues of this brilliantly written newsletter can be found at:

The most recent issue of Rachel's (issue #636) referenced DIOXINS and revealed:
"Eighty to ninety percent of our daily dioxin intake comes from eating milk, meat and fish. Breast-fed infants take in 70 picograms of dioxin per kilogram of body weight per day - seven to seventy times as much as the average adult. Despite this, breast-fed infants are healthier than infants fed bottled formula."


Robert Cohen (1-201-871-5871)
Executive Director
Dairy Education Board

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