The recent Wall Street Journal story quoting the findings of Canadian researcher Nadine Ijaz to the effect that, contrary to current regulator attitudes, raw milk is in fact an inherently low risk food, has prompted some backlash, notably on Doug Powell’s Barblog:
“The scientific fringe craves the credibility – the impateur — of the scientific mainstream. It fuels conspiracy theories, drains public health resources, and unnecessarily worries a lot of folks; it’s a recycled tactic often used in the politics of genetically engineered food, water fluoridation, and so on. Mainstream science can be wrong; but it’s better than astrology….” and so forth.
To reply to this critique about the science supporting the “raw milk is a low risk food” thesis, David E. Gumpert and Nadine Ijaz have each independently spoken to the issue in a new post on The Complete Patient blog:
David: “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has had no hesitancy about spending taxpayer dollars to promote its viewpoint that raw milk is a mortal danger. A couple years back, I called the FDA on its practice, after it spent nearly $2,500 with a press release service to put out single warning on a slow-news weekend about possible illnesses at a private food club from raw milk, long after any possible threat had passed.
The hidden agenda behind the press release was clearly propaganda. It had nothing to do with safety or science…”
“Ijaz made a well-received evidence review on unpasteurized milk at the British Columbia (Canada) Centre for Disease Control (BC CDC). Her research debunks raw milk health and safety claims across all sides of the debate. It was picked up by the Wall Street Journal thanks to a media release from the Weston A. Price Foundation. This kind of exposure represents a wonderful opportunity for sincere scientific debate based on actual evidence…or so Ijaz thought.
But, of course, discussion is the last thing some food safety professionals in the academic and government orbit seem to want. Anyone who advocates such a rational approach tends to be shot down, such as in this case, with terms like ‘astrology’ and ‘conspiracy theories’ and ‘scientifically-sounding garble.” This arrogant academic said he decided to `leave it to others to comment on the uh, unique interpretations of risk assessment`. So much for scientific rigour….”
Nadine: “In my BC CDC Grand Rounds presentation of May 16, 2013 entitled Unpasteurized milk: myths and evidence, I reviewed a substantial number of peer-reviewed studies to deconstruct myths propagated on various sides of the raw milk debate. In that presentation, I employed evidence-based perspectives towards a balanced critique of raw milk consumer claims as well as those presented by North American public health bodies. My goal is to begin depoliticizing the raw milk debate and to bring a higher standard of scientific rigour to this long-controversial subject.
My evidence review concluded that while little evidence substantiates several common raw milk consumer claims, neither is raw milk as uniquely hazardous today as it was in the 1930s. While acknowledging the ongoing value of pasteurization as a public health intervention, I systematically deconstructed what appears to be a fundamental and unprecedented bias against unpasteurized milk in the scientific literature and by public health bodies. I also critically examined recent evidence around the proposed protective effects of raw farm milk on the development of atopic conditions in young children, as well as evidence pertaining to industrial milk processing`s possible health impacts….”