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Response to Snake Alchemist (Original post)

Fri Feb 24, 2012, 04:39 PM

26. FDA’s crackdown on raw-milk cheese based on flawed data analysis

 

http://grist.org/food-safety/2011-02-10-what-will-the-fda-do-about-the-60-day-aging-rule-for-raw-milk/

Has there been a serious jump in illnesses from raw-milk cheese recently? You might think so if you’ve read recent major pieces in The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/05/business/05cheese.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper and The Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/05/AR2011020502210.html?hpid=topnews&sid=ST2011020503601 — or the study put together by product liability law firm Marler Clark, http://www.marlerblog.com/legal-cases/the-raw-milk-beat-goes-on-a-look-at-the-literature-and-the-60-day-raw-milk-cheese-aging-rule---updat/ which documented 54 illnesses attributed to raw milk cheese in 2010.

The FDA is certainly concerned. It has been considering significantly tightening the rule that allows producers to sell unpasteurized cheeses to the public, so long as they have been aged 60 days. Major changes to the 60-day rule could severely damage the growing artisanal cheese industry, some of whose products command $20 to $25 a pound. What none of these sources discussed is how the illnesses attributed to raw milk cheese last year compared to other years. The 60-day aging rule for raw milk cheese has been in effect since 1949, partially in response to outbreaks of typhoid attributed to raw milk cheese. All of which prompts this question: Have illnesses from raw milk cheeses been a serious public health problem since then?

Since none of the articles or the Marler Clark study addressed that question, I decided to do some searching through the data. I examined the data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) from 1973 throgh 2008 — a period of 36 years. For data covering 1998-2008, I used the online CDC database http://wwwn.cdc.gov/foodborneoutbreaks/Default.aspx on foodborne illnesses, and scrolled through all the reported illnesses year by year, beginning in 1998 (the first year covered) looking for those attributed to unpasteurized and pasteurized milk cheeses. I didn’t count those attributed to queso fresca, a soft cheese that isn’t aged and thus isn’t legal under FDA regulations. For data going back to 1973, the CDC provided a table http://grist.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/cdc-foodborne-i.pdf on illnesses from raw milk and associated products in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund http://www.ftcldf.org/ in 2007.

Here’s what I found:

Remarkably, from 1973 to 1999, a period of 26 years, there’s not a single report of illness from either raw milk or pasteurized milk cheeses. It’s only in 2000 that we see the first illnesses from raw milk cheese — one outbreak in 2000 that sickened 18, then two outbreaks in 2001 leading to 31 illnesses, and one outbreak sickening 18 in 2003.


Thereafter, the pace of illnesses picks up, though sporadically. After no illnesses were reported in 2004 and 2005, the data in 2006 show 121 illnesses from raw milk cheese, and in 2007, the number has increased to 162. Then, there were no reported illnesses in 2008. Interestingly, illnesses from pasteurized milk cheese begin showing up in recent years as well. In 2006, there were 41 illnesses from pasteurized milk cheese, and 161 in 2007. In 2008, when there were no illnesses from raw milk cheese, there were 45 from pasteurized milk cheese. Pulling it all together, the CDC data show 350 illnesses from raw milk cheese over the nine years from 2000-2009, or an average of 39 per year. (If you average the number out over the entire 36-year period, the average goes down to nine per year.) While there were fewer illnesses from pasteurized milk cheeses during that same nine-year period — 247 — there was one death.

snip


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my take:

According to the regulations in the European Union (including here in Sweden) all raw milk products are "legal" and considered "safe for human consumption", and can be sold without any price, variety or quantity restrictions. However, the European countries are free to add certain requirements, usually special sanitary regulations and frequent quality tests (at least once per month) are mandatory.

http://www.reading.ac.uk/foodlaw/f-eu-law.htm

Your FDA (Obama-appointed Michael Taylor of MONSANTO is your food safety czar, ffs! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-smith/youre-appointing-who-plea_b_243810.html ) works in tandem with big agra/pharma businesses to enforce a corporate facistist model of state control that crushes the small and medium sized business, well exempting the large multi-nationals from much-needed oversight. The so-called 'safe' mainstream products from these corporate overlords are oftentimes worse in terms of long-term effects and basic outcomes than many natural or unprocessed products. Disgusting.


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http://www.preventcancer.com/consumers/general/milk.htm

Why is American Milk Banned in Europe?

American dairy milk is genetically-modified unless it’s labeled “NO rBGH”
Genetically-engineered bovine growth hormone (rBGH) in milk increases cancer risks.
American dairy farmers inject rBGH to dairy cows to increase milk production.

European nations and Canada have banned rBGH to protect citizens from IGF-1 hazards.

Monsanto Co., the manufacturer of rBGH, has influenced U. S. product safety laws permitting the sale of unlabeled rBGH milk. (Monsanto would lose billions of dollars if rBGH were banned in America.)

Q. Is there any milk not contaminated with rBGH and IGF-1?
A. Yes. Milk that is clearly labeled “NO rBGH” is free of rBGH and does not contain excess levels of IGF-1.

Q. What about cheeses?
A. American-made cheeses are contaminated with rBGH and excess levels of IGF-1 unless they’re labeled “NO rBGH”. Imported European cheeses are safe since Europe has banned rBGH.

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