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The Great Controversy Surrounding Raw Milk

By Theodora Filis

The controversy over whether people have the right to produce, sell, buy, and consume raw milk products is a huge one these days. 

Government regulators in Canada and the US insist they are protecting the public against dangerous effects of raw milk, while those who seek raw milk and other raw foods say their way of eating – is healthy.

Advocates of raw milk point out that pasteurization is not a guarantee milk, and milk products, will be safe. In fact, they claim heating milk (pasteurization) makes the lactic acid and other heat-sensitive antimicrobial substances less effective at fighting bacteria.

Michael Schmidt, Canadian farmer, raw milk activist, and board member of the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) – a non-profit organization, dedicated to "restoring nutrient-dense foods to the North American diet through education, research and activism" – received a sentence of one year probation, and a fine of $9,150, from Ontario Judge, Peter Tetley, during formal sentencing on Wednesday, November 29, for providing cowshare owners with raw milk.

The WAPF has been criticized by medical and health experts for "purveying misleading information" and "failing to update their recommendations in light of contradictory evidence".

Got Raw Milk?

In March 2010, the FDA issued an alert regarding confirmed illnesses, in the US sate of Michigan, associated with Campylobacter in raw milk. There is also evidence that raw milk and raw milk products carry and transmit disease-causing bacteria, such as E. coli O157:H7, Campylobacter, Salmonella, and Listeria.

While demand for other raw foods including nuts, meat, and honey, is growing, some say the controversy over raw milk is due to the dairy industry's hopes of keeping raw milk off the shelves.

Producing and buying raw milk is not illegal: licensed dairies can legally sell the product in retail outlets in eleven US states. Twenty US states allow consumers to buy unpasteurized milk directly from farms or to participate in programs in which people buy a part ownership of an animal and are entitled to the milk. US interstate sales of raw milk, however, are banned by the FDA.

Consumers should be educated about the pros and cons of these products before they purchase them. Consumers should also investigate the source of any raw milk they plan to buy and the background of the seller.

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