By Robert Cohen Executive Director Text Only

K = Killer Bacteria

By the time one hears the snap, crackle, and pop from a bowl of Rice Krispies, that milk has been pasteurized three times. Another secret the dairy industry does not want you to know. Why doesn't the first time work, or the second, or third? Most people have experienced the putrid smell of soured milk. Pour it down the drain on day eight. Imagine what you consumed on day seven?

"Salmonella are widespread in the environment and hence can enter the dairy factory from various sources. Butter readily supports growth of salmonella at room temperature, but refrigeration or freezing for brief periods does not eliminate it. Salmonella can remain viable in butter for up to 9 months."

Journal of Dairy Science 1992;75(9):2339

"A drop of sour milk may contain more than 50 million bacteria...certain bacteria, especially organisms belonging to the genera bacillus and clostridium, have the ability to transform themselves into small bodies called spores. The word spore comes from the Greek word for seed. The spore can often withstand drying, the temperature of boiling water (pasteurization), and the action of some germicides. When suitable conditions return, the spore resumes its vegetative form and the bacterium again returns to the usual activities of its normal life cycle."

Modern Dairy Products, Third Edition Lincoln Lampert

"Milk from cows inoculated with listeria was pooled for 2 to 4 days and then heated at 162 degrees Fahrenheit for 16 seconds in a high-temperature, short-time pasteurization unit. Live listeria bacteria was then successfully isolated from the milk after heat treatment in 11 of 12 pasteurization trials."

Journal of Environmental Microbiology. July 1987 (53)

"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)

"In 1992, 19,000 deaths were attributed to infections caused by antibiotic- resistant organisms. They played a partial role in another 58,000 deaths that same year."

Your Health, June 1994

"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."

J Dairy Sci, 1999 Dec, 82:12

"There can be Chernobyl-like accidents. One of these occurred in the Chicago area in April, 1985. At a modern, large milk processing plant an accidental 'cross connection' between raw and pasteurized milk occurred. A violent salmonella outbreak followed, killing 4 and making an estimated 150,000 ill."

Robert Kradjian, M.D. The Milk Letter, August, 1994

"Raw material from animals which are inadvertantly contaminated with fecal matters during production will carry antibiotic resistant lactic acid bacteria into the final fermented products such as raw milk cheeses..."

Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek, 1999 Jul, 76

"The administration of subtherapeutic doses of antibiotics to livestock introduces selective pressures that may lead to the emergence and dissemination of resistant bacteria. The present findings clearly demonstrate that antibiotic-resistant bacteria in beef and milk pose a serious problem."

J Food Prot, 1999 Jun, 62:6

"Food producers and consumers must continue to take precautions against foodborne diseases, and early diagnosis and appropriate treatment of these illnesses are essential. Food products and water can become contaminated with microorganisms and toxins that make people ill..."

Postgrad Med, 1998 Jun, 103:6

"... curing alone may not be a sufficient pathogen control step to eliminate Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli O157:H7 from cheese.

J Food Prot, 1998 Oct, 61:10

Robert Cohen author of:   MILK A-Z

Executive Director (
Dairy Education Board

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