Monthly Archives: November 2008

Nestle ordered to recall melamine-tainted baby formula in South Africa

Nido and Lactogen, two Nestle products affected by the recall in South Africa

Nido and Lactogen, two Nestle products affected by the recall in South Africa

Unlike in the United States where public health officials are pretending it’s “business as usual” (see post below), South African health officials have ordered Nestle to withdraw products from store shelves.

Here are excerpts from two news stories covering this latest development in the melamine saga. The first, from The Times, titled “Nestle Baby Formula Recall”, is by Nivashni Nair:

Tests reveal high melamine levels in two batches of local infant formula

BATCHES of Nestlé baby formula have been pulled off shelves in South Africa after tests showed they contained unacceptably high levels of melamine.

Blog: Contaminated baby formula: From the mouths of cows

The department of health said yesterday that mothers should stop using the products Nido and Lactogen and return them to the shops at which they were bought. Continue reading

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FDA finds melamine in American baby formula but recommends parents continue using it — WTF?

FDA Chemist testing for melamine. FDA photo.

FDA Chemist testing for melamine. FDA photo.

Thanks no doubt to the far-reaching results of globalization, companies that supply 90% of the American baby formula market are finding melamine in their products. Here’s an excerpt from the Associated Press story (via The Huffington Post):

“Traces of the industrial chemical melamine have been detected in samples of top-selling U.S. infant formula, but federal regulators insist the products are safe. The Food and Drug Administration said last month it was unable to identify any melamine exposure level as safe for infants, but a top official said it would be a “dangerous overreaction” for parents to stop feeding infant formula to babies who depend on it.

“The levels that we are detecting are extremely low,” said Dr. Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “They should not be changing the diet. If they’ve been feeding a particular product, they should continue to feed that product. That’s in the best interest of the baby.” Continue reading

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Melamine (Chinese milk additive) 101

In today’s post we feature a picture parade that tells the story of melamine contamination in milk products, what it is, what it’s for, how it works and some hints on how to recognize and avoid contaminated foods.

Chinese mother feed their babies -- Telegraph photo

Chinese mothers feed their babies -- Telegraph photo

Adulteration of milk has historically not been limited to China. In North America, in the early decades of the last century, substances such as chalk were added to milk from large dairy farms that tried to cut their costs by feeding their cows distillery swill (leftovers from the distillation process) instead of hay and pasture. With it’s fairly recent shift to industrialization, China may well be going through a similar sort of birthing pains as were once felt here in Canada and the United States. But while we used chalk, they’re using melamine. But the purpose was the same — to make the milk seem more nutritious than it really is.

Ultimately, the lesson of the melamine scandal is: Know where your food is coming from. Cultivate personal relationships with local growers, because the corporate food chain just can’t be counted on to look out for the health of consumers. Beyond melamine there’s the whole issue of GMOs just lurking under the level of public awareness. How long will it take before GMO contamination becomes the next “melamine scare”?

Thanks to farmer Michael Schmidt for passing the following information and pictures along to the Bovine, which he received in the form of an email. We’ve edited some of it for style and content. Continue reading

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The economics of cow-shares in Canada and good news for Calgary milk lovers

A happy Vancouver area cow-share member getting milk from Bert Jongerden at one of several Vancouver-area drop off points for Home on the Range.

A happy Vancouver area cow-share member getting milk from Bert Jongerden at one of several Vancouver-area drop off points for "Home on the Range". Gordon Watson photo.

Here’s some advice Gordon Watson recently gave to some folks who are considering establishing a cow-share dairy operation in the Calgary area. Gordon Watson is associated with Alice Jongerden’s Home on the Range farm near Chilliwack B.C., just a little east of Vancouver, which may well be Canada’s largest raw milk cow-share operation.

“Here is a thumbnail sketch of what we’ve learned in a year and a half:

A cow on a mainly grass-fed diet will produce an average of three gallons of milk per day. One gallon is four quarts. A quart is 32 fluid ounces. A liter is 39.36 fluid ounces. Forget the metric system and use American measures. The same people who are tuned-in to real food are intuitively opposed to globalization, which was what the metric system was created for; choose you this day whom you will serve

On the premise that a household will use a gallon of milk a week, then one cow will supply 21 households. So it takes a group of about 21 shareholders to underwrite one cow in production. Remember ; that cow will be dry for two months a year.  Two cows in milk will pay the overhead and provide half a day’s wage for someone who will do the stoop labour. Six cows in milk is a full time job at industrial wages. By the time you have 20 cows in milk, you should be making enough to be able to pay for a piece of property. That model is best suited to two families who will share the work Continue reading

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Our duty to defy lies and intimidation

We need to stand up to big dairy by getting our milk straight from the cow.

We need to stand up to "big dairy" by getting our milk straight from the cow.

Here’s the latest from David E. Gumpert’s The Complete Patient blog, based on David’s “state of raw milk” address to the recent Wise Traditions conference in San Francisco. Here’s an excerpt:

“….However, it is clear that the education will only work if consumers are walking the walk. As the double whammies of the federal court case against Mark McAfee and the New York court decision against Meadowsweet Dairy make clear, we are dealing with people who are desperate–perhaps more desperate as time goes on and they see public attitudes shift–to carry out the agendas of Big Ag and Big Pharma, and will stop at nothing to accomplish their agendas, including:

  • Dishonesty, when they say that all raw milk contains pathogens, and they know it doesn’t;
  • Misrepresentation, when they say people have been dying from drinking raw milk, when they know the only deaths came from imported bathtub cheeses made from raw milk, which serious raw milk producers disavow;
  • Interfering in private transactions between consenting adults when they argue, and a judge agrees, that groups of individuals can’t buy whole food directly from farmers;
  • Engaging in censorship by ordering small sellers of nutritional products not to post links to web sites that provide information on the benefits of real food.
  • Continue reading

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Raw-milk shares in Massachusetts

Lucky, the raw milk cow. Photo from Paskamansett Farms

Lucky, the raw milk cow. Photo from Paskamansett Farms.

Here’s a sweet little locavorian paen to raw milk from Elspeth Pierson of Dartmouth, Massachusetts. She gets her raw milk from Paskamansett Farms, which is also the source of the picture which accompanies this story, a picture of “Lucky” the cow. Visit the farm’s website to read the story of how “Lucky” got her name. Here’s a bit of what Elspeth says on her “Diary of a Locavore” blog:

“As you may know, I’m part of a milk coop that buys raw milk straight from Paskamansett Farms in Dartmouth. I’ve gotten a pig there, and several chickens, and even a turkey this Thanksgiving, but mostly, it’s about the milk.

It isn’t legal to sell raw milk at stores in Massachusetts. The laws vary state by state, some allowing cow sharing, others sales at farmers markets, and still others full delivery. Continue reading

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Slow food’s slow road to change — gourmet elitists for social justice?

The two worlds of slow food. Photo on left by Giuseppe Cacace/AFP Photo/Newscom. Photo on right by Lisa Abend.

The two worlds of slow food on display at the Turin "Terra Madre" event. Photo on left by Giuseppe Cacace/Agence France Presse/Newscom. Photo on right by Lisa Abend.

To add to the theme we started in our last post, here’s an excerpt from a report on that Slow Food event in Turin Italy at which the visiting school children were drinking raw milk from a vending machine. But first a brief introduction:

While the Slow Food movement has long found favour among the culinary cognoscenti, Slow Food’s agenda has also inadvertently highlighted the economic disparity between those who can afford an enlightened way of eating and those who subsist on the margins of society while growing food for the rich and discerning. Lisa Abend explores this theme in her recent story for the Christian Science Monitor, dated November 24th. Here’s some of what she says:

Somewhere between the exquisite vial of 25-year-old balsamic vinegar, fermented in cherry wood, that Modena’s Acetaia del Cristo sells for roughly $150 and the few dusty potatoes that Ann Petroni hawks on a blanket she brought with her from Burundi, lies the future of Slow Food, founded in 1989 to counteract the pernicious effects of fast food. Continue reading

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