Raw milk roundup #10 – 10 new stories

CBC radio’s “the current” on the recent Listeria scare  — blaming raw milk cheese in Quebec

Part 3: Raw Milk Cheese – Jourdenais

Earlier this week, a group of cheese connoisseurs gathered in Toronto for a chance to sample some raw milk cheese, and get a little education, courtesy of the host, Canadian Chef, Gurth Pretty. We aired some tape from a celebration of raw milk cheese, held earlier this week in Toronto.

But last September, artisanal cheese was on Quebecers’ lips. for a much less palatable reason. It’s been more than five months since the day known as “Black Saturday” in Quebec’s artisanal cheese industry. Three hundred cheese shops, producers, and grocery stores were forced to destroy fridges full of cheeses that the government feared may have come in to contact with other locally produced cheese that had been infected with listeriosis. This outbreak was not related to the Maple Leaf Listeriosis crisis at the time.

Much of the industry has been slowly recovering since then. But not Quebec’s raw milk cheese makers. A few years ago, raw milk cheese was hailed as an up-and-coming cottage industry in Quebec. But since September, as many as half of the province’s raw milk cheese producers have stopped production. And there are fears that the whole industry could be gone within a year if nothing is done.

Gilles Jourdenais owns the Fromagerie Atwater in Montreal. It was one of the retail outlets caught up on “Black Saturday.” 16-hundred kilograms of cheese were removed from his shop and destroyed. He was in Sutton, in Quebec’s Eastern Townships this morning.

Raw Milk Cheese – Scientist

Clement Falardeau is with Quebec’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, or MAPAQ. That’s the ministry that made the decision to destroy thousands of kilograms of cheese rather than testing it for the listeria bacteria. And we asked im if — looking back on it now — he thinks the ministry made the right call.

And for a second opinion on that question, we were joined by Mansel Griffith. He’s a food microbiologist and the Director of the Canadian Research Institute for Food Safety at the University of Guelph. He also holds a Sr. Research Chair with theNational Science and Engineering Research Council which is funded in part by theDairy Farmers of Ontario.

Now, they should have interviewed Dr. Carol Vachon from Quebec City. He had some interesting things to say about the weak link between the Quebec Listeria outbreak and all the raw milk cheese that was confiscated and presumably destroyed. Perhaps the Bovine can contact him for an opinion on the subject at some point.

Letter to the Editor of the Baltimore Sun: “No inherent danger lurks in raw milk

Thank you for your balanced article on the unprocessed milk debate (“Got (Raw) Milk?” Feb. 16).

In the rush to label raw milk inherently unsafe, most people make a huge logical mistake. If raw milk is inherently unsafe, why aren’t other raw foods also considered inherently unsafe?

The real issue in food safety is not the natural product, whether it is a fruit, a vegetable, an egg or raw milk, but how the food is produced, processed, handled, transported and stored.

Any food can become contaminated at any time, even milk that has been pasteurized, and can then cause illness or death.

To make our food supply safer, we need to examine the origins of the possible contamination. The role of government inspectors should be to remove unethical producers, not to penalize small farmers who do their best to provide clean, healthy, natural foods to their customers.

In the case of raw milk, if we want a clean product, we need to have: 

•Healthy cows raised in a healthy environment with healthy feed – animals raised in confinement are crowded together, increasing the likelihood of fecal contamination, and must then be fed antibiotics to keep them from becoming sick. 

•A clean environment – not only for the cows’ feeding but for their milking; clean equipment, milking parlor and containers reduce the chances for pathogens to enter the milk in the first place. 

•Proper handling and storage of the finished product at all times. If milk is not handled properly, if it’s improperly stored or if the consumer handles the milk improperly, it is more likely to become contaminated.

I began purchasing raw milk from a Pennsylvania Amish farmer two years ago after talking with a friend of mine, a yoga teacher and studio owner, who had drunk nothing but raw milk for 30 days (no other food, just the milk). Not only could she take part in the advanced yoga workshop we were attending but she had plenty of energy, her skin was clear and radiant, and she was extremely happy with how she felt. 

I haven’t had the nerve to embark on a milk fast, but I have noticed that my migraines have disappeared, my digestion is better, my immunity is stronger and my energy level has risen. 

I have also met others who have vastly improved their own and their family’s health by eliminating poor-quality processed foods in favor of high-quality local produce, pastured meat and natural dairy products.

I have made other dietary changes over the past two years, so I won’t say that raw milk cured all my ills. But it has played a significant part in the improvements I’ve experienced….”

Letter to the Financial Post from a Thornhill mom who can’t drink the milk in this country. But she does fine with the unpasteurized milk she gets in Europe.

Raw Milk Please — Gordon and Susan Welch

“Why is raw milk illegal for sale in Canada? Oh, I know the answer to the question, but there are so many reasons why the answer is wrong. Raw milk is safe, healthy – and delicious!

I want to be a farmer. I guess I’m farming now… but I mean a real farmer… more on that later. For now, let me say that one thing I want to do as a farmer is sell raw milk. This is legal in many jurisdictions around the world. If you think it’s something unsafe, fit only for nostalgia and underdeveloped nations, then please…. think again. Raw milk is legal for sale in several U.S. states, including California! The laws vary quite a bit, but one of my fondest memories of Maine is walking into a store and buying raw milk in a glass bottle that was produced on a horse-powered farm. Wow. That’s not 100 years ago… it’s right now – and I believe – the future, too.

For now, we have a hero in Michael Schmidt.

Someday soon, perhaps Canadian governments will allow freedom of choice for our food~”

Maryland Bill would once again recognize legitimacy of Cow Boarding  From Lancaster Farming:

“ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland General Assembly Delegate J.B. Jennings (R-7) recently introduced bill HB1080, on dairy animal ownership, to restore Maryland farmers and citizens’ right to engage in contractual agreements called agistments.

According to the Maryland Independent Consumers and Farmers Association (MICFA), agistments are arrangements for pasturing and managing a horse or livestock animal and have existed for centuries. Dairy agistments are a situation in which farmers pasture, feed and milk a cow for the owners who might not have the land themselves. Horse boarding is a common agistment practice. Agistments have been compared to time-share arrangements. In many states, cow owners benefit from their animals’ milk production in this way, according to MICFA.

“I sponsored this legislation so that Maryland consumers can obtain fresh milk in Maryland and support Maryland farmers,” Jennings said. “It is especially important right now that farmers be able take advantage of all economic opportunities available to them. I hope to see Maryland dairy farms thrive once this legislation passes and the right of farmers and consumers to engage in agistment agreements for dairy animals is restored.”

In 2006, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, under the directions of Ted Elkin, deputy director, Office of Food Protection and Consumer Health Services, redefined dairy agistments as a sale of raw milk, thereby criminalizing cow shares in Maryland and sending thousands of Maryland consumers to other states for fresh milk, according to MICFA. Fresh milk advocates say Jennings’ bill would return these revenues to Maryland agriculture. Farmers support HB1080, because during this time of economic crisis in Maryland, when many are looking to the government for economic support, it would create substantial business in Maryland……

Jonas Stoltzfus addresses Pennsylvania legislature at a hearing on raw milk legislation on September 18, 2007. An excerpt (from InfoWars):

“….In the sixties a little black woman sat down in the front of a bus in Mississippi. It was against the law for that little black woman to sit in the front of the bus in Mississippi in the 1960’s. The law was wrong.

Fast forward fifty years later, in Cumberland county, Mark Nolt was selling milk and milk products to his customers, good stuff, I have consumed his products, it’s the best. But to sell this stuff is against the law. This law is wrong.

Just as it is my right to choose wherever I want to buy my food, so it is Mark’s and every other farmer’s right to sell his product to whoever wants to buy it. I don’t need a permit or permission to buy anywhere I want to. The farmer doesn’t need a permit or permission to sell his product to anyone. This, folks, is not about health, it is about control.

Two hundred thirty years ago, fifty-six leaders signed The Declaration of Independence. Let me quote several lines from this famous document: “The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States…He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.” How far away from that situation are we today? We have again come to the place where this is a proliferation of offices and officers harassing us the people and living off of our substance.

We the people will not put up with this attempt to restrict and control our lives. Mahatma Gandhi changed the course of history in India by peacefully ignoring the rule of England. He did what was right.

Martin Luther King Jr. helped to change the course of history in the United States by peacefully ignoring the wrong law of the land.

We the citizens of this Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will change this attempt to control our activities by ignoring this wrong law. We are demanding that the politicians who put us in this place change this law and restore again to us our freedom to buy and sell where and when we like. It is our right.”

Which states have the most illnesses from raw milk — not a trick question

“Imagine for a moment that sales of luncheon meats like salami, bologna and hot dogs were prohibited in half the states beginning in 1993, because such products causemore than 6,000 illnesses each year (see page 13 of the publication, which is actually about illnesses in a different year–this is hypothetical, remember).

Now imagine, 15 years later, you are studying data from 1993 to 2006 on the number of illnesses from luncheon meats in all 50 states.

In which states would you expect to have the most cases of foodborne illness caused by luncheon meats—the ones in which sales were illegal, or the ones in which sales were permitted?

This is not supposed to be a trick question. At least I haven’t been able to determine the trick, because I’ve been thinking about it for the last six days, since that raw milk symposium outside Washington last Tuesday, sponsored by the International Association for Food Protection, and couldn’t find anything overtly tricky.

My answer is always the same: the states that prohibit luncheon meats would have fewer outbreaks of illness  because, well, there’d be less bologna, salami, and hot dogs available for sale than in the states where it was legal. And then I wonder, once again, am I missing something here?…”


Topics not directly related to raw milk:

Update and Review on the Manna Storehouse story from Journal of Whole Food and Nutrition:

“…If a dozen or more white terrorists held two women, 10 children, toddlers and a baby hostage for six hours, the event would be on television nationwide and on the front pages of newspapers the next day….”

“….Three snipers with high-powered rifles were aimed at the home with ten children being homeschooled. Babies and toddlers were inside also. About twelve armed sheriff deputies along with agents from the Lorain County (Ohio) Health Department and the Ohio Department of Agriculture raided and ransacked the inside and held the family for six hours inside a room in their home outside Lagange, Ohio.

Food, computers and phones were seized from their private home along with 61 boxes of grass-fed beef and lamb were taken that was butchered, wrapped and labeled by a licensed and USDA inspected butcher shop and delivered the day before. According to the expired search warrant, deputies were to seize money and bank accounts. The storehouse of organic foods from a variety of suppliers as well as the personal food stock were taken as the terrified family watched.

Why? A dozen eggs had been sold after being coerced by an undercover agent. As anyone would say, “there is more to it than that”. Yes, there was more. The owners of the home, Jackie and John Stowers, and their Manna Storehouse, an organic food co-op inside, were alleged to have operated without having a retail food license.

But this event did not make the newspapers or television news much at all, leaving the public unaware to this day what occurred on December 1, 2008, not far from my house…..”

American public losing confidence in government regulation of the food supply — peanut scandal just the latest straw. Excerpt:

“The conclusions of a pioneering survey from the University of Minnesota’s Food Industry Center and Louisiana State University’s AgCenter should come as a surprise to no one.

The deadly salmonella outbreak tied to peanut butter made at a filthy Georgia processing plant has caused consumer confidence in the food supply to plummet. Just one in five Americans now believe the food supply is safer than it was a year ago, according to findings from the latest Continuous Consumer Food Safety/Defense Tracking Study (CFST). The study, funded by the National Center for Food Protection and Defense at the U, provides a valuable ongoing look at consumer concerns, expectations and perceptions. It’s updated weekly — unlike other surveys that swoop in occasionally on food issues.

Consumer confidence dipped last year with the outbreak of salmonella first linked to tomatoes but later tied to peppers. Confidence rebounded, the CFST found, only to nosedive to a new low with the peanut butter salmonella outbreak that has sickened at least 500 and killed eight people, three of whom were Minnesotans….”

How to treat cancer with foods. Gee, could that be possible? I thought you had to go to the hospital and get chemo and radiation and all that stuff. Isn’t that required by law? Wow, what if you could just get better by eating right. Why wouldn’t the Cancer Society be all over this solution if it really works? Another cancer therapy link.


Filed under News

3 responses to “Raw milk roundup #10 – 10 new stories

  1. Why do a blanket destruction of all the suspected cheeses? Is there not a way of testing for listeriosis on a cheese wheel by wheel or batch by batch basis?


  2. thebovine

    Precisely. I think what we’re seeing with the mass confiscation of large amounts of raw milk cheese in Quebec is a politically motivated act with two agendas. One agenda is for the government to appear to be doing something about Listeriosis. And agenda two is to discourage the raw milk crowd from getting ideas about moving any more into the mainstream.

    Here in Ontario, I buy Quebec-made raw milk cheese in the health food stores, where it’s commonly available. The flavour is far better than the Ontario organic cheese made from pasteurized milk.

  3. Bernie Bailey

    This goes back to previous comments I have made. Based on thirty years in the dairy industry it is a simple twenty four hour test for bacteria levels ( I am sure its faster now ) and to Michael Schmidt’s case this is the proper way to track the organic/fresh products that are for sale to the public but again he and you are not fighting about health and safety you are fighting the lobby groups companies that would make no penny on raw milk sales.

    I am one vote

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