Raw Milk Contamination?

mobile-milking-machines

If you have only one cow, milking by hand makes the most sense. A generation ago my father used to milk sixteen cows by hand everyday. Most modern farmers would use a portable milking machine. Big processors have a milking parlor which is a massive capital investment.

I was listening to CBC Radio today and heard a warning from the BC Center for Disease Control about raw milk contamination at Home On The Range in Chilliwack, BC. I have not been able to find a reference to any sickness caused by the contamination. Please read Raw Milk Products Contaminated for the full story. This is my response to the CBC News article:

washing-glass-jars

These are glass jars just washed and sterilized in a commercial dishwasher. The device to the left is used to filter and pour the milk into the jars.

My name is Caroline Cooper. I am the Chapter Leader for the Weston A Price Foundation in Kamloops, BC. The Weston A Price Foundation supports people trying to get nourishing traditional foods. Raw milk is one of these traditional foods that has nourished generations of farming families.

The cooperative members of Home on the Range want to have a product that they cannot get through the Industrial Food System. These members have pooled their resources to buy a herd of milking cows. They have contracted with an agister/milker and lease land so the members can get raw milk.

I would hope in a free country like Canada, a group of like minded individuals would still have the right to organize themselves and, as a group, contract for special services or products. If safety is a true concern, this closed system of commerce is very safe.

I believe the needs of the BC Center for Disease Control and the cooperative members of Home on the Range are not that far apart. Everyone wants a safe product. It would be more helpful if the BC Center for Disease Control used its excellent resources to help the cooperative to improve their safety protocols. I would hope an enlightened government would use its power to help, not penalize, its citizens.

It is important to realize that it might be great if the government used its resources to help herdshare programs improve their safety methods, but the government does not have jurisdiction regarding inspection or regulation of the products of the herdshare program. This is because the products of the herdshare are not being sold. The monetary transaction occurs between the herdshare members and the agister/milker under contractual agreement. Any products of the herd are shared between the herdshare members in proportion to the member’s shareholding. (If there are any lawyers out there that can weigh in on this point of law, I would appreciate it.)

raw-milk

Here is raw milk, raw butter and raw butter oil stored in the fridge after processing. Do citizens have the right to make a contract with a farmer for special foods? Should the government have the right to impose their rules into the voluntary transactions of citizens?

Updated January 6, 2010: This is a link to Michael Schmidt’s blog called The Bovine. There is a posting written by Gordon Watson, a herdshare member of Home on the Range, about the situation in Chilliwack, BC. This is a link to Health Authority Cracks Down On Raw Milk. It is a story about Deb Purcell’s search for better health for her child.

I still have not been able to find any proof that someone has become sick from the stated food contamination. If anyone sees any test results from the BC Center for Disease Control please forward the information to me.

Undated January 7, 2010: I contacted Sally Fallon yesterday and she had a number of questions that the BC Center for Disease Control could answer to clarify this situation:

1. How many people in the area became sick?
2. How many of these people drank raw milk?
3. Did they test the milk?
4. If so, did they find a pathogen?
5. If they found a pathogen, did it match the pathogen that made people sick?

Many of the answers are in the following email from Home on the Range. The email was written by Gordon Watson, a long term member of the Home on the Range cooperative:
On January 6, 2010, I got a copy of the lab results which was given to one of our former depots, by Vancouver Coastal Health. A ‘cfu’ means colony forming unit. The presence of colonies of bacteria is the way foods, in particular milk, are tested for pathogens. It is important to realize that we live in a world of bacteria everywhere. Colonies of bacteria may be either ‘good’ bacteria or ‘bad’ for human beings. For purposes of food safety, what matters is the sheer quantity of colonies present in a one gram sample of milk. The less the better. The FOOD QUALITY SAMPLING RESULTS for milk from our herd show that the colony forming units range between 1,300 for the butter and up to 3,000 for other products. The fluid milk was 2,400. Thus, the tests from the BC Center for Disease Control show that our milk is well under the 10,000 cfu standard for pasteurized homogenized milk retailed in BC.

I still cannot find a reference to anyone becoming sick. Therefore a tie to the strain of bacteria found in the raw milk products is irrelevant at this point.

January 14, 2010: I have just received an email from a shareholder/worker of Home on the Range. Sui Ryu has started a blog about her insider experience with the raw milk issue in Chilliwack, BC. This issue is not only about having access to a nourishing traditional food such as raw milk. It is about the individual’s basic right to choose the source and type of food the individual considers healthy.

Updated January 21, 2010: Michael Schmidt, Raw Milk Activist, Acquitted!

8 thoughts on “Raw Milk Contamination?

  1. Hi Caroline. Thanks for your post regarding the recent media hype about risk of raw milk. I work closely with Alice, and I know all the cares she put into her operation to make sure of the safety of the raw milk products. And I believe that most shareholders are aware that they are to take initiative in making sure that they understand what it means for them to be raw milk consumers. I work for the farm, but I am shareholder, too. And I am confident in the food produced at this farm. If not, I have already cancelled my share by now. I am dissapointed in the relevant health agencies to be doing little to do what they are mandated to do, which is to ensure and to promote public health. I do not believe the most recent warning has such effect. By the way, congratulation on the progress you’re making toward the herdshare of your area. I was planning to attend the upcoming meeting. However, I have to help with Alice and will miss the meeting this time. I look forward to your update and wish you the best with your endeavor.
    Regards,
    Sui
    Chilliwack, BC

  2. Dear Sui,

    I don’t know if you remember me, but you gave me a tour of Home on the Range. I had just returned from the Weston A Price 2008 Conference in California. I also visited the two raw dairies supplying the state of California. Plus I got to see and smell the conventional dairies that supply the industrial milk in the state. This is a link to a posting on the experience:
    http://eatkamloops.org/archives/1332

    Both Organic Pastures and Claravale Dairies are large operations with heavy costs in land and equipment. What I learned at Home on the Range was that a small operation could do the same without the massive overhead. I was very impressed with the simplicity of the operation and the simple methods used for handling milk safely. I will use aspects of Home on the Range as a model for the Kamloops Herdshare Program.

    Please come and visit anytime. You are very welcome!

  3. Yes I remember you. I was inspired by you in many ways, and since your blog was up, I have been enjoying the great reads! Isn’t it interesting, that the health agency’s result actually shows that the raw products were well within the standard bacteria count for store-bought milk? It’s just helping to solidify our confidence in going “raw”! It’s unfortunate people are so conditioned to be afraid of “bacteria”. We are alive thanks to them. Also, this recent media pressure reminds me of my visit at Aldor Acre in Langley who has a nice fancy dairy presentation facility, mostly for school trips. I went there as a family, and asked the farmer what she thought about raw milk. She said she drank the milk she produced, but she wouldn’t recommend for city folks because their immune system wasn’t most likely built as strong as that of the farm folks. Interestingly, she was affirming my belief in raw milk.

  4. Dear Sui,
    As I have been reading media releases on this story a number of questions come to my mind:
    1. Are there any ill people connected to the “contaminated” raw milk?
    2. Why hasn’t the media asked BCCDC for the number of cases of illness in the area?
    3. Why hasn’t the media asked BCCDC if there is a proven link between the pathogens in the ill person(s) and the raw milk?
    4. Why are the raw milk samples consider “contaminated” if the colony forming units (cfu) found in the samples are less than the industry standard?
    5. Have we put out a province wide warning on a food item without having proof of a direct link to an actual illness?
    6. Was there even a need to do a province wide warning if the milk is owned and consumed by ONLY cooperative members of Home on the Range?
    I am very perplexed by these questions.

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  6. Pingback: Ontario Court Reverses Lower Decision for Raw Milk Farmer

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