Editorial on Raw Milk in Metroland’s Newmarket Era-Banner Newspaper

From a recent editorial in the the Era-Banner:

“There is a growing trend in society toward more natural food consumption.

What began with people buying products directly from farmers at local markets, through farm share programs or at actual farms, has spread to grocery store shelves through the growth of things such as organic products, hormone- and antibiotic-free meat selections and packaged food that’s free of artificial colours and flavours.

By and large, the trend is a good thing. The fewer unnatural additions to food, the better, if only because we don’t have adequate research on the long-term effects of some food additives.

However, where the research exists, we must allow modifications to food that are proven to be beneficial for society.

That’s the case when it comes to milk.

There is a peaceful demonstration planned for March 16 outside the Newmarket Courthouse to support Ontario farming family Michael Schmidt, Elisa Vander Hout and Markus Schmidt, who produce and distribute raw milk through a herd share program.

The adjective ‘raw’ is applied to milk that has not been pasteurized.

Ontario has required pasteurization of all milk sold or distributed for human consumption since 1938.

The only people allowed to consume raw milk in the province are people who own the cows, their families and guests in their homes.

The Schmidt family moved the debate into something of a grey area by selling shares in the cows to other people who want to consume raw milk. The family scored a legal victory on that matter in 2010, only to have a higher court overturn the ruling.

The Schmidts now face another injunction against distributing raw milk.

Advocates of raw milk say it is healthier than pasteurized milk, because some nutrients and beneficial bacteria are destroyed in pasteurization.

While it’s true that pasteurization reduces a small number of milk’s benefits, it also eliminates potentially fatal bacteria, which is why the law against selling and distributing raw milk must stand.

Louis Pasteur developed the pasteurization process in 1862, and there’s no doubt humans consumed unpasteurized milk for millennia before that.

Most raw milk won’t cause any ill effects, particularly when it’s consumed shortly after it is taken from the animal.

The problem is, when there are ill effects, they are very serious.

Among the bacteria that can be found in raw milk are Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria and, most troubling, the bacteria that cause typhoid and tuberculosis.

In 1927, raw milk caused a typhoid epidemic in Montreal that affected more than 5,000 people and caused 533 deaths.

Typhoid and tuberculosis are very contagious diseases, so if a few people contract them by drinking raw milk, they can spread the infections widely.

In many places around the world, selling raw milk is legal, but even in those places, top medical officials often warn against its consumption.

In the United States, where some form of selling raw milk is legal in more than half of the states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has done extensive research that shows the risks associated with unpasteurized dairy….”

Read more in the Era-Banner.

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