Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Raw milk and people with influence

It’s happened again! Bill Marler quotes a Washington State Department of Agriculture News Release, reporting that three recent Escherichia coli infections in Washington have been linked to drinking raw, unpasteurised milk. The Washington state departments of Health and Agriculture have put out new warnings about the risks of consuming unpasteurised milk and milk products.

All the patients involved have reported drinking raw milk from the same supplier. Though no E. coli have been found in the most recent batch of product tested, the Washington State Department of Agriculture did find in the dairy the same strain involved in one of the illnesses.
Bill Marler, Doug Powell and I have all written on many occasions about the hazards of consuming raw milk. Doug has emphasized that personal freedom is all very fine, but young children cannot exercise freedom of choice. They are often the ones made ill by bacteria carried in raw milk. If you think that we are a bit over the top on this issue, have a look at the You Tube clip of Barb Kowalcyk talking about her son, Kevin, who contracted haemorrhagic E. coli infection.

A few days ago, Tamati Coffey was shown on TVNZ’s “Breakfast” programme milking a cow and then drinking the milk. No real problem there. The show’s hosts, Pippa Wetzell and Paul Henry then discussed the merits of drinking raw milk. Typically, Paul reckoned he wouldn’t touch the stuff, but I was surprised when Pippa, who recently had a new baby, argued that drinking raw milk is good for you. Many people watch this programme every day and there must be a proportion of those who are mothers of young children. Judging by the daily feedback, viewers hang on every word the presenters utter. I have to admit that I too enjoy the quick repartee of Paul and Pippa, but her throwaway line could easily influence parents to feed raw milk products to their children, with potentially disastrous consequences.

Perhaps television presenters should be a bit more careful when it comes to expressing views on the safety of foods – they are not trained in food safety. As they said in the post-war years when I was a lad “Careless talk costs lives”. It’s just as true today.


Bill Marler said...

There are links to a outbreak report and video from a raw milk outbreak on - client videos.

John said...

Thanks Bill. I read all your blogs and shamelessly refer to them on a regular basis!

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