Tag Archives: low risk

Controversy in social media over “raw milk is a low-risk food” assessment

by Nadine Ijaz

Researcher Nadine Ijaz

It is healthy that we are seeing some vigorous conversation about raw milk safety this week.  In an earlier post, I responded to some inaccurate depictions of my work on this front.  The discussion continues across social media, with the twitterverse circulating a position paper to reproduce some of the raw milk science myths which I debunked in my recent presentation to the BC Centre for Disease Control here in Canada.  That position paper gives some historical context for pasteurization, cites some accurate evidence, and describes one family’s story of raw milk induced illness; it also makes some important errors. While one is entitled to express an opinion online, it is important to differentiate what is scientific evidence.

Of course it is terribly unfortunate that a beautiful young child would and did become severely ill from consuming unpasteurized milk contaminated with E. coli 0157 as the paper’s author reports; and I feel certain that raw milk producers and consumers would agree that it is regrettable.  One would certainly wish Ms. McGonigle-Martin, her son Chris, and their entire family well; and wish to do the utmost to prevent any such future occurrence. These stories are absolutely worth telling, to honour the family’s experience. Continue reading

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Pushback and rebuttal on “raw milk is a low-risk food” Wall Street Journal story

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:

Doug Powell’s Barfblog logo, David E. Gumpert, Nadine Ijaz

“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. Continue reading

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“New Studies Confirm: Raw Milk is a Low-Risk Food” — Wall Street Journal

From the Wall Street Journal:

“Washington DC, June 11, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Three quantitative microbial risk assessments (QMRAs) recently published in the Journal of Food Protection have demonstrated that unpasteurized milk is a low-risk food, contrary to previous, inappropriately-evidenced claims suggesting a high-risk profile. These scholarly papers, along with dozens of others, were reviewed on May 16, 2013 at the Centre for Disease Control in Vancouver, BC (Canada), during a special scientific Grand Rounds presentation entitled “Unpasteurized milk: myths and evidence.”

The reviewer, Nadine Ijaz, MSc, demonstrated how inappropriate evidence has long been mistakenly used to affirm the “myth” that raw milk is a high-risk food, as it was in the 1930s. Today, green leafy vegetables are the most frequent cause of food-borne illness in the United States. British Columbia CDC’s Medical Director of Environmental Health Services, Dr. Tom Kosatsky, who is also Scientific Director of Canada’s National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health,welcomed Ms. Ijaz’s invited presentation as “up-to-date” and “a very good example of knowledge synthesis and risk communication.” Continue reading

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