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CDC Study on Dangers of Raw Milk Consumption

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Rockydog View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rockydog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: CDC Study on Dangers of Raw Milk Consumption
    Posted: 13 December 2014 at 18:09
There is a new study out from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)that will appear in the January 2015 CDC Journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. The average number of food borne illnesses from drinking raw milk has quadrupled in recent years as more states allow sale and consumption of raw milk.

From 2007-2012 there were 81 foodborne outbreaks associated with raw milk, an average of 13 per year. These outbreaks sickened nearly 1000 known victims and hospitalized 73 people. Of the 78 outbreaks where a single etiologic agent was the source the breakdown looks like this:

Campylobacter      62 outbreaks (81%)
E. Coli            13 outbreaks (17%)
Salmonella enterica 2 outbreaks   (3%)
Coxiella burnetii   1 outbreak    (1%)

Multiple Bacteria were identified in 3 outbreaks.

Outbreaks associated went from 30 in 2007-2009, to 51 during 2010-2012. in the 2007-2009 time frame unpasteurized milk caused 2% of all foodborne out breaks. By 2010-2012 unpasteurized milk caused 5% of all foodborne outbreaks. In a study from 1993 -2006 the average number of outbreaks per year was 3.

It's pretty easy to see that as more people have access to raw milk outbreaks increase. Since 2004 8 more states have passed legislation that allows for raw milk sales. Retail sales of raw milk are now legal in 30 states with 8 more allowing people to buy shares in a farmers herd of cows so that they can consume "their own" raw milk. Raw milk sales are not allowed in Interstate Commerce and both the FDA and CDC recommend against raw milk consumption. Yet congress introduced a bill last year to allow Interstate Commerce for raw milk. So far it has not been passed. for more info go to:

http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/21/1/14-0447_article

As for my background on this topic; I have worked for a major US milk processor for 30 years doing on farm milk quality control. Prior to that I was a dairy farmer who raised his family on raw milk. Knowing what I know now from my exposure and education about bacteriology, as it relates to raw milk, I was a fool to do so. I recognize that some feel very strongly about the purported benefits of raw milk consumption. IMO even if there are benefits they are more than outweighed by the risks. If it's the homoginization you are trying to avoid either buy pasteurized "creamline" milk or buy raw milk and a home pasteurizer. The cost of the pasteurizer is minimal compared to illness or death from consuming raw milk. RD
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HistoricFoodie View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 December 2014 at 04:53
Not arguing with your conclusion, Rockydog. But I notice the report, as you present it, deals with raw numbers used specifically to maximize their scariness.

Me, I wonder what those numbers show if expressed as a percentage of use. That is, how many people consumed raw milk or raw milk products (i.e., cheese) versus the thousand who took sick.

By the study's own numbers, only 5 percent of all foodborne illnesses can be traced to raw milk.

The mathematical fact is that as more people consume raw milk and raw milk products, the number of illnesses will naturally go up. The question (unanswered in the study) is how that compares to a total raw milk diet? In other words, if there was no pasteurized milk, and the percentage of foodborne illness from it remained at, or near, 5%, then the conclusion is meaningless.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Percebes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 December 2014 at 10:46
Campylobacter is the most common cause of diarrheal illness in the US.
Diagnosed cases avg 14 cases per 100,000 of the general population.
And estimated at 1.3 million cases a year.

So if I read this correctly there are an avg of 13 cases a year in the US in the CDC study coming from Raw Milk and the vast majority 81% come from Campylobacter.

I see this as approx. 10 cases of Campylobacter a year in the US related to Raw Milk from an estimated incidence of 1.3 million cases.

Somehow the math does not support 5% of illness from Raw Milk when we only look at Campylobacter


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HistoricFoodie View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 December 2014 at 11:33
Well, gee, Murray. You don't think the paternalistic CDC would skew the figures on us. Or count on the fact that most people won't do the math.

I'm thinking that being as USDA has a lip-lock on boutulism (another non-issue), CDC cast about for something of its own to claim.

Meanwhile, we're still out there slaughtering about 75,000 of each other every year. But nobody's suggesting we stop driving cars.

Let's relate the two. Of all the people who got sick from food, 5% did so from raw milk. 5% of 75,000 is 3,750. Not 3,750 people who got sick; 3,750 who got dead.

Somehow, compared to that, I can't get excited about 73 people who had an uncomfortable time in the hospital
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Percebes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 December 2014 at 12:10
As a chef the greatest source of contamination comes from my food broadliners who are breaking up larger pack sizes to all go on one pallet to a specific restaurant.
With thousands of orders to pick each night-speed is of the essence.

So they throw 10 chickens in a box from a case of 24 and then load 4 salmon in a nearby box onto my order etc etc.

All of this contamination occurs before I even receive the product. At that point my staff can contribute to the problem with their own lapses.

I wonder how much of the raw milk contamination is actually cross contamination from unwashed hands.
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HistoricFoodie View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 December 2014 at 14:00
....or milk that's been improperly stored along the food distribution highway or at home?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rockydog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 December 2014 at 22:05
A couple of comments here based on reply posts.

HistoricFoodie, You wrote"Not arguing with your conclusion, Rockydog. But I notice the report, as you present it, deals with raw numbers used specifically to maximize their scariness."

I didn't write the report the CDC did. Raw numbers are raw numbers. Any interpretations as to scariness are perhaps in the eye of the beholder. An Opinion if you will...

Percebes, Let's not confuse outbreaks with cases. There were 10 outbreaks with indeterminate cases and I believe you compared outbreaks to the number of cases of campylobacter nationwide. I'll admit a relatively small number of outbreaks. But we don't know how many outbreaks it took to result in the 1.3 million cases.

I agree with both of you in the fact that there are tons of risks out there for food contamination. I see them in stores and restaurants all the time. Cutting boards, knives, hand washing.

I was simply trying to highlight one that has an easy fix. Don't drink raw milk. Much the same as keeping separate cutting boards in your kitchen or sanitizing them between uses.

Raw milk cheeses are another whole topic. Specific cheeses made from raw milk really scare me. The very process of making cheese encourages bacterial development. We warm milk to a bacteria friendly temperature, add rennet and bacterial cultures that develop cheeses into the styles we are familiar with. Aged cheeses made with raw milk are fairly safe if we let them age long enough for the lactic acid to develop to the point that the acid kills the bacteria present. Raw milk cheese curds or soft cheeses, fresh mozzarella, young Colby cheeses etc. made from raw milk can actually have increased numbers of pathogens present because the cheese making process encourages their growth. And yet home cheese making kits encourage the use of raw milk, even for cheeses that will not be aged. Again, let's use a process that encourages bacterial growth utilizing an ingredient that we can be fairly certain contains harmful pathogens. It's like putting a turbocharger on a car that has a huge puddle of brake fluid under one wheel. We can be fairly certain that the brakes won't work but, what the heck, we love speed don't we?

One of the farthest reaching outbreaks a few years back occurred when a plant, using pasteurized milk for making cheese, had a leaking pipe on the raw intake side of the pasteurizer. An employee placed a bucket under the leaking pipe and then emptied the bucket into a cheese vat full of pasteurized milk early in the make process. The bacteria from the unpasteurized milk in the bucket grew in the cheese, most of which was sold as fresh curd in a tourist type shop. This resulted in an out break among tourist from several states. The investigators contacted everyone they could find who had signed the guest book at the store. Several had been treated and some hospitalized on their vacation.

Obviously, I am passionate about this topic. My optometrist confided to me that she drove out to the country nearly every weekend to by raw milk, illegally I might add, for her family. We discussed the risks and perceived benefits and she was not moved. I told her that I would be seeking another optometrist. If a health professional who has a Doctoral Degree does not have enough judgment to avoid health risks, why would they exercise any better judgment in evaluating my heath care needs and why would I entrust my eyes to their care?

People all have their opinions. I'm not here to ruffle anyone's feathers just stating my opinion. Take it or leave it. Your choice, and you won't ruffle mine by leaving it. RD
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 December 2014 at 20:25
Raw milk has never really been on my radar, but RD's comments here carry a lot of weight:

Quote As for my background on this topic; I have worked for a major US milk processor for 30 years doing on farm milk quality control. Prior to that I was a dairy farmer who raised his family on raw milk. Knowing what I know now from my exposure and education about bacteriology, as it relates to raw milk, I was a fool to do so. I recognize that some feel very strongly about the purported benefits of raw milk consumption. IMO even if there are benefits they are more than outweighed by the risks. If it's the homoginization you are trying to avoid either buy pasteurized "creamline" milk or buy raw milk and a home pasteurizer. The cost of the pasteurizer is minimal compared to illness or death from consuming raw milk. 

I could be wrong, but seems to me that those who want raw milk would be giving up little by pastuerising it; it would still be as natural as can be, and it would be safe.


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Melissa Mead View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Melissa Mead Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 December 2014 at 19:10
Unless it's like cider, which doesn't taste the same once it's been pasteurized.
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