B.C.’s anti-raw-milk offensive continues

Here’s the latest missive — a ready-to-print op-ed opinion piece sent out by the government to media outlets in beautiful British Columbia, No one could say they’re not trying hard to get their message out:


By Perry Kendall
[319 words]
Jan. 5, 2010

VICTORIA - There have been several media stories over the past few weeks concerning "raw milk" product consumption in British Columbia. The term "raw" in this case refers to unpasteurized milk.

By law, all milk sold or distributed in B.C. must be pasteurized - a process that raises milk to temperatures high enough to kill harmful bacteria. This is not a new public health protection idea. Commercial pasteurization of milk was first introduced in 1895, after Louis Pasteur discovered that the process inactivated spoilage organisms.

Pasteurization of raw milk has prevented thousands of illnesses and deaths. It is one of the great advances in public health of the 20th century. It removes potentially harmful bacteria, while in no way compromising milk's nutritional qualities.

The BC Centre for Disease Control advised this week that it has tested and confirmed fecal contamination in raw milk products distributed recently in the Lower Mainland.

This should serve as another strong warning that drinking unpasteurized milk can result in illness, long-lasting serious diseases, or even death. Disease- causing bacteria found in unpasteurized milk include E. coli, salmonella and campylobacter.

There is no research to substantiate the claims that raw milk has better nutritional and medicinal qualities than pasteurized milk. As recent outbreaks demonstrate, even raw milk with a normal appearance from apparently healthy cows can contain bacteria with the potential to cause human illness.

Even though the consumption of raw milk in B.C. is limited, there have been several outbreaks caused by this practice. Sadly, some of these illnesses occurred in children who were given raw milk by well-intentioned parents. All parents should realize that children are among those at highest risk, as they tend to consume more milk.

It is important that all British Columbians be aware of the serious health risks associated with consuming unpasteurized milk. Any perceived health benefits of drinking raw milk are most certainly offset by the serious risks of contracting disease.


(Dr. Perry Kendall is B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer)

For more information on government services or to subscribe to the Province's news feeds using RSS, visit the Province's website at www.gov.bc.ca.

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