By Robert Cohen Executive Director Text Only


The Wall Street Journal published a letter from a raw milk
advocate, Sally Fallon.  That letter described Fallon's
mistaken impression that unpasteurized milk is safer than
the pasteurized version which most Americans drink.  Nothing
could be further from the truth.  I decided to write a
letter to the Wall Street Journal, which follows. Will they
print it?  That remains to be seen.



Unpasteurized milk and dairy products contain surprises for
milk producers, including dangerous bacteria, despite the
claims made in Sally Fallon's June 17th WSJ letter.

When cows are milked, their body fluids are stored in
refrigerated bulk tanks while waiting for the trucks to take
the milk to the processor. Many farmers drink the raw
unpasteurized milk produced on their farms and they should
reconsider that practice.

The May 10, 1999 issue of HOARD'S DAIRYMAN, the dairy
industry magazine subscribed to by 108,000 "insiders" (dairy
farmers and milk producers), revealed that dangerous
bacteria are naturally present in milk.  The Hoard's article
revealed that scientists at South Dakota State University
tested bulk tank milk from 131 dairy herds and found that
32% of the samples contained one or more species of
pathogenic bacteria.

In addition, a survey of those farms revealed that on 60
percent of the surveyed farms, dad, mom and kids consumed
raw milk.

What were they drinking?  The study revealed the presence of
salmonella, listeria, campylobacter, yersinia, E. coli, and
staphylococcus.  Milk from hundreds of dairy farms are
usually mixed together and added to that carton of milk sold
in supermarkets.

Many bacteria are not killed by pasteurization.  Rod-shaped
bacteria form a "spore" at the first sign of heat ("spore"
is the Greek word for "seed"). When the milk cools, the
spore re-emerges into its original form.



Los Angeles County has just completed a study on the
health risks from drinking raw milk. They've issued a
report. Here are some of the highlighlights/lowlights.

Health Risks

"Diseases which may be transmitted by micro-organisms
in raw milk or raw milk products include salmonellosis,
campylobacteriosis, brucellosis, yersiniosis, listeriosis,
staphylococcal enterotoxin poisoning, streptococcal
infections, tuberculosis and E. Coli 0157:H7 infection."

In mid March, I will be debating raw milk advocate
Sally Fallon at the Toronto Total Health 2001
conference. Sally's web page:

I'll be sure to give Sally a copy of a study that appeared
in the journal Dairy Science (1999 Dec, 82:12). A study
was performed in which raw milk samples from dairy
herds were tested. Here is what scientists found:

"Bulk tank milk from 131 dairy herds in eastern South
Dakota and western Minnesota were examined for
coliforms and noncoliform bacteria. Coliforms were
detected in 62.3% of bulk tank milk samples... noncoliform
bacteria were observed in 76.3% of bulk tank milk."

Drink raw milk and you're not the only one at risk.
The Los Angeles County report reveals:

"Although the initial impact of the disease is on the
consumer, many pathogens may be transmitted from person
to person, including to family members, and patrons of
restaurants if the individual is a food handler. The fetus
of a pregnant woman may be at risk. Some of the diseases
associated with the pathogens can lead to death,
among vulnerable persons."

The Los Angeles County report cites Centers for Disease
Control estimates that no more than one out of 20 cases
of food borne illness are reported to local health
departments. Such illnesses are epidemic in nature, and
rarely reported by the media. Various examples of mass
milk poisonings were given in the L.A. study.

In 1985, an outbreak of listeria was linked to soft
cheese made from raw milk produced in Los Angeles
Of the 142 cases reported, 93 were in pregnant women
or their children. There were 48 deaths, including 20

Since 1973, 394 cases of salmonella have been
reported in Los Angeles County. Of these, 101 (25.6%)
were consumers of raw milk. Molecular fingerprinting
identified the strain of bacteria in ill persons as
the same as that found in raw milk samples.

Health Benefits of Raw Milk

A rigorous review of the medical and scientific literature
by the L.A. County investigators found no studies
suggesting health benefits from consuming raw
cow's milk.


A number of new subscribers to this list are big fans of
drinking raw milk.  Here are excerpts from a 1999
paper published in:

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
(MMWR. 1999;48:228-229)

Mass Treatment of Humans Who Drank
Unpasteurized Milk From Rabid Cows
Massachusetts, 1996-1998

Rabies is a viral zoonosis that is usually transmitted by
the bite of an infected mammal. However, in Massachusetts,
two incidents have been reported since 1996 of potential
mass exposures to rabies through drinking unpasteurized
milk. This report presents the investigations of these two

Incident 1

On November 12, 1998, the Virology Laboratory of the
Massachusetts Department of Public Health (VLMDPH)
diagnosed rabies in a 6-year-old Holstein dairy cow from
a farm in Worcester County.  Further analysis of the cow's
brain tissue with monoclonal antibodies revealed the cow
was infected with a variant of the rabies virus associated
with raccoons in the eastern United States.

The cow had been milked 12 times during the week before
death. Milk from the cow had been pooled with milk collected
from other cows, and an unpasteurized portion was
distributed for human consumption.  Public health
investigations identified 66 persons who drank unpasteurized
milk collected from this dairy during October 23-November
All 66 received rabies inoculations.

Incident 2

On November 12, 1996, the VLMDPH diagnosed rabies in
a 14-year-old Jersey dairy cow from a different farm in
Worcester County. Analysis with monoclonal antibodies
revealed the cow was infected with a variant of the rabies
virus associated with raccoons in the eastern United States.

An investigation identified 14 persons who drank
unpasteurized milk collected from this cow during this
period. All 14 persons received rabies injections.

The series of injections used to treat suspected cases of
rabies costs an average of nearly $2400 per person.

The Center for Disease Control reports that there have
been an average of 150 rabid cattle cases each year
reported since 1990.

Pasteurization destroys rabies.  Does raw milk sound
even less delicious than before?

If not, consider these 5 reasons NOT to drink raw milk:

"... curing alone (pasteurization) may not be a sufficient
pathogen control step to eliminate Salmonella, Listeria,
and E. coli O157:H7 from cheese."
(Journal of Food Protein, 1998 Oct, 61:10)

"A drop of sour milk may contain more than 50 million
(Modern Dairy Products, Third Edition Lincoln Lampert)

"Listeria organisms excreted in cow's milk escaped
pasteurization, grew well at refrigerator temperatures,
and were ingested by consumers."
(New England Journal of Medicine, 1985, 312, 7)

"Bulk tank milk from 131 dairy herds in eastern South
Dakota and western Minnesota were examined for
coliforms bacteria.  Coliforms were detected in 62.3%
of bulk tank milk samples...
(Journal of Dairy Science, 1999 Dec, 82:12)

"Raw material from animals which are inadvertantly
contaminated with fecal matters during production will
carry antibiotic resistant lactic acid bacteria into the
fermented products such as raw milk cheeses..."
(Journal of Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek, 1999 Jul, 76)

Robert Cohen author of:   MILK A-Z
Executive Director (
Dairy Education Board

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