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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Sally Fallon Morell and the Weston A. Price Foundation, you better get a very good lawyer – and lots of insurance

SallyMorell-med.jpgThe National Journal reported on the “Moo-in” in Washington D. C. where Morgan the cow held court. It looked like all had fun poking fun at the FDA and touting the taste and alleged benefits of raw milk. However, this quote (which I hope someone has on tape) was really quite shocking:

Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, said the laws against raw milk crossing state lines have nothing to do with safety and everything to do with economics.

“Children who start out on raw milk are very healthy children,” she said. “They don’t have asthma, they don’t have allergies, they don’t miss days at school, they don’t get sick, and they don’t have digestive problems. Raw milk is a magic food, and we are here to defend that magic food.”

“Magic food, “ Really? Sally, you need to “lawyer-up.” The next family who relies on your words, and the Foundation’s website, and their kid becomes ill after drinking raw milk, you will have a problem.  I have spoken about this before at the AVMA Conference in Seattle awhile back (as quoted on “THE BOVINE”:

“Trade Association Liability” and says, “The crux of trade association liability is whether consumers rely on the association’s information and expertise.”

  • I would like to know what schools she attended in order to make sure my family never moves there. Obviously they did not do a very good job teaching critical thinking. If they did she would be able to understand that magic does not exist and that it is wishful thinking to believe that raw milk is safe. Further, she would know how unethical it is to try and convince people to give a dangerous item to children since they can not make an informed decision, maybe she is in favor of allowing children to playi with revolvers with one bullet in the chamber. Not much of a difference between the two.

  • Mary McGonigle-Martin

    Yes Jim. I put that gun to my son’s head when he tried raw milk. He got the bullet. Sally doesn’t believe there are any bullets in the gun.

  • Sharon Zecchinelli

    But you all would give your children any medicine a doctor prescribes because the doctor said it would be good. Gads…this fight over the right to drink raw milk is just ridiculous. Raw milk isn’t inherently dangerous. Millions of people do drink it every day and don’t get sick from it. Raw milk is a lot less dangerous than driving a car, a lot less dangerous than eating grocery store deli meat or salad greens. I know I am wasting my words here on you, Bill, and especially on Mary.

  • Bix

    “Magic food.” That’s quite a leap from science. I wonder why she chose to use those words.

  • John

    Why am I not hearing anything about HOMOGENIZATION? That is unarguably 100% about shelf life and does nothing at all to make the milk safer… to the contrary, it actually makes the milk harmful. I believe homogenization does more to hurt the benefits of milk than does pasteurization. Read about Xanthine Oxidase, a protein in milk that is normally harmless as long as the milk is not homogenized. As soon as homogenization occurs, this protein gets incorporated into the resulting tiny fat molecules and can enter the blood stream, where it scrapes against your arteries to cause disease. If the milk is not homogenized, then this protein gets broken down differently, in a way that does not cause arterial disease.
    (Disclaimer: it has been a couple years since I read about this, so please go do your own research to confirm all this… I believe I got the jist of it correct, but you should all go get more details about it.)

  • Chuck

    Two sets if ketters come to mind after reading Sally Fallon (N0) Morrell’s comment: OMG! and WTF! Is she the new head of the Bill Marler Retirement fund, the one that will assuredly make him insanely rich via incredibly stupid public statements?

  • James Holladay

    Raw milk from a cow, properly reared and raised, is in no way dangerous. Milk from an idustrialised dairy, from a diseased cow pumped full of antibiotics is. I don’t care how much you boil it, I personally won’t touch it, not only from a nutritional stand point but from an ethical one.
    Sensational statements based not on fact, but opinion, can hardly be considered critical thinking. A big problem today for a lot of us is we don’t ask questions, we accept what we’re told without asking who’s saying it and why. When someone comes around who challenges our beliefs we attack them for being stupid or insane for going against what they say, despite the fact that doing what they say has seen cancer, heart disease, obestity, diabetes, and othe diseases sky rocket.

  • Jim, I assume that “Sensational statements based not on fact, but opinion, can hardly be considered critical thinking” – you are talking about Ms. Fallon’s “Magic” comment? Also, I got an email from a legal friend who suggested:
    “I’d point out that all members of the WAPF board need good E&O policies.”

  • Describing raw milk as “magic food” was probably not a good idea. Yet the response from lawyers is telling–where there is risk, there is opportunity.
    I am truly amazed by this debate re: availability of raw milk. Raw milk is not inherently a problem. Hundreds of years ago as people left farms and moved to cities, there was no appreciation for the role of bacterial contamination. History tells us that illness and needless deaths occurred before the advent of pasteurization. It is important to understand risk of drinking raw milk increased because lack of sanitation and refrigeration of the raw milk.
    We have better science today. My guess is that it is very possible to produce and distribute raw milk with little risk of contamination and disease, even over state lines.
    Maybe the Weston Price Foundation doesn’t need lawyers as much as it needs scientists to carefully study the issue and stop relying on anecdotes to scare the public. Eating food is inherently risky. The goal is to reduce risk. If we banned all classes of food that ever caused someone to be ill there would nothing left to eat..

  • Doc Mudd

    WAPF’s mouthpiece, Sally Fallon Morrell and her fellow quack cultists shamelessly encourage risky behaviors. They should step up and take responsibility for their dangerous faux-medical advice.
    Sally & loopy disciples should become living donors of kidneys and other organs as compassionate recompense for health damage inflicted by them through their blatant quackery…

  • Sharon Zecchinelli

    Dear Doc Mudd,
    I resent being called a quack cultist just because I have a food preference. I suppose when people don’t have any knowledge about the subject at hand, the easiest thing is to call names. The same thing happens in political arguments, replace the words with racist.
    Mr. Marler, why did you approve his post? Just to inflame the dialog?
    Should I call you names because you eat primarily out of the grocery store and consume foods that I consider extremely risky; homogenized milk and probably low fat/no fat at that, low fat/no fat anything and everything at your doctor’s direction, everything with soy in it.
    Where is civility and the agreement that we each should work out our own consumption practices for ourselves?

  • Sharon, my guess is that he was not responding to you, but to Sally Fallon’s “magic food” comment, and I agree with him on that one.

  • Sharon
    You ask if the post here was “Just to inflame the dialog?”…You hit the nail on the head. This is a dialog that needs no inflaming. All it does is boost raw milk sales and encourage more people to join buying clubs so they can get access to it. I don’t happen to agree with Sally Fallon on the “magic food” statement, but I defend her right to say it. It’s at the other end of the spectrum from FDA dairy chief John Sheehan’s statement that raw milk is “inherently unsafe.” As I recall it, Bill Marler disagrees, feels raw milk can be sold from farms under certain conditions. Would he ever rail against Sheehan the way he rails against Fallen? Care to take a bet?
    David Gumpert
    Author: The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food Rights

  • Sharon, my guess is that he was not responding to you, but to Sally Fallon’s “magic food” comment, and I agree with him on that one.

  • Sharon, my guess is that he was not responding to you, but to Sally Fallon’s “magic food” comment, and I agree with him on that one.

  • David, you raise an interesting point. Perhaps “inherently unsafe” is a nuts as “magic food.” As for Mr. Sheehan, I have never spoken to him nor met him. I once tried to link to him on Linkedin and he refused. You see, I seem to piss off everyone.
    I do think there needs to be a compromise and I think what I posted on your blog sometime ago was a good start. However, I am so tired of the personal attacks and anti-science, anti-government BS, I do not even know where to begin, or why I would even try. It’s like the Coptic’s and the Muslim’s in Egypt. At this point my goal is to simply stop legislation where I can. At least I know that I will be making it harder for kids to become ill.
    I must admit I was a bit concerned about your “war” language in your passionate speech in Washington D.C. – you and Sally seemed to have gotten a bit carried away by the crowd.

  • You certainly can make the argument that I’ve been guilty of inflaming the dialog. Guess I just had a sudden urge when I read your post for something softer, more compromising, as you suggest…from both sides. I’m not sure that can ever happen in an online environment where it’s so easy to lob verbal grenades.No, I think the only hope is for real person-to-person or organization-to-organization dialogs. You allude to the AVMA meeting where you spoke a couple years ago–I remember it well, I spoke there as well, and felt as if some improved understandings came out of it. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any followup and, if anything, the atmosphere has become more hardened–you are no longer even leaving open the possibility of accepting any state legislation, just out to quash it all. And I’m talking about “war” in response to federal undercover agents coming into people’s homes to seek out food. Guess we have a ways to go.

  • Michele Jay-Russell

    There was follow-up after the AVMA conference and your input was important. A working group created the website http://www.realrawmilkfacts.com. Through outreach to regulators, academia and consumers and evidence-based research, we broke new ground in addressing the raw milk conundrum: http://dhs.wifss.ucdavis.edu/pdf/AVMArawmilkconundrum.pdf

  • RC

    COWS MILK IS FOR COWS. So simple.

  • Michele,
    With all due respect, your “working group” can’t even be remotely considered to be objective and open-minded about the raw milk issue. Only one member has ever expressed an inclination toward expanding availability of raw milk, and certainly not since becoming a member of your group. That isn’t the kind of follow up I was referring to, which could realistically lead to improved understanding, compromise and reconciliation among the various parties.

  • Doc Mudd

    Invoking “war” and “magic”…not much of an invitation to compromise.
    Food poisoning from salmonella, campylobacter, listeria, e coli; personal injury including Guillain-Barre Syndrome and Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome…not much of an incentive to compromise.
    Science-based public safety in one corner, zealous personal belief in “magic” in the opposing corner…not much common ground upon which to compromise.
    WAPF and raw milkies aren’t seeking compromise…they’re demanding a capitulation of science and common sense by legislators and FDA.

  • Jen

    The comment about children not getting asthma or allergies from raw milk may be a bit misleading. I was raised on raw milk and I have asthma, allergies, and I’m lactose intolerant. This may not happen to every child but to say raw milk is “magic food” is a bit silly. Also, people should research where there milk comes from. It is quite shocking to see the conditions dairy cows and their male offspring (veal) have to go through to give us humans a food item our body doesn’t even need. We drink milk because we are consumers and it tastes good and we don’t care where it comes from, we just want it. For some reason, we feel entitled to anything at any cost. It’s a shame.

  • Sometime ago I penned – “What I’d Recommend: Raw vs. Pasteurized Milk”
    Eventually, I came to the conclusion that:
    1. Raw milk should be sold only on farms that are certified by the state and inspected and tested regularly. Make ambiguous black market milk/cheese sales and “pet food sales” meant for human consumption clearly illegal
    2. Raw milk should not be sold in grocery stores or across state lines–the risks of mass production and transportation are too great; the risk of a casual purchase by someone misunderstanding the risks is too great, as well
    3. Farms should be required to have insurance coverage sufficient to cover reasonable damages to their customers
    4. Practices such as outsourcing (buying raw milk from farms not licensed for raw milk production) should be illegal
    5. Colostrum should be regulated as a dairy product, not a nutritional supplement
    6. Warning signs on the bottles and at point-of-purchase should be mandatory. An example: “WARNING: This product has not been pasteurized and may contain harmful bacteria (not limited to E. coli O157:H7, Campylobacter, Listeria and Salmonella). Pregnant women, infants, children, the elderly and persons with lowered resistance to disease (immune compromised) have the highest risk of harm, which includes Diarrhea, Vomiting, Fever, Dehydration, Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, Reactive Arthritis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Miscarriage, or Death, from use of this product.”
    Frankly, with the “magic food” and “we are at war” language coming from the raw milk proponents, I have been more focused on stopping raw milk sales were I can, because, I certainly do not see how even my suggestions have been discussed rationally by the proponents. Frankly, I have given up on compromise. It is hard to have a discussion when you are being called a fascist, and a tool of big agribusiness or government, and yes, an ambulance-chasing vampire.

  • Nicole

    I think it’s crazy that there is such an uproar over raw milk that farmers and their families have been living off of for hundreds of years. But my real sticking point is one of risk. Yes, there may be a small risk with drinking raw milk, but there’s risk in everything. Every time I eat raw tuna in my sushi, I take a risk of it being contaminated. Every time I click my seatbelt I take a VERY large risk of getting in an accident. And lastly, every time we inject our kids with vaccines (which btw contain very dangerous substances like mercury, formadehyde, acentone etc..) we take a risk that our children can have a serious or even deadly side-effect. So WHY is it ok for us to know the risks of things like vaccines and say “yes, I know the risks and I’m willing to take them” (to which the FDA says “pull up your sleeve!”) but we can’t say “Yes, I am willing to take any risk that comes with drinking raw milk, fill up my glass.” I’ll give you the answer in one word- MONEY!

  • Melanie

    Bill, I do appreciate that you seem to have a willingness to compromise and see that the FDA side may also be nuts with some of their assertions. And I don’t always like the dramatic language that comes from the raw milk camp – it seems to turn some people off.

    But as a raw milk drinker (regularly for 6 years without incident from the Amish farmer in question), I understand the passion behind those words. When you feel like David, your “Goliath” can seem pretty big and menacing. And the FDA has the power to strong arm in some profoundly limiting ways.

    The compromise we’re looking for is to be given the freedom to make our own choices like we do on so many other things that have potential risk. And labeling the milk with the potential risks, just like we label other products (raw fish, cigarettes, etc.) may be a legitimate part of that compromise.

    The problem with many of your recommendations for raw milk producers is that the cost would put a small farmer out of business (see anything by Joel Salatin). But maybe that’s the point? The recommendations are also full of double standards – industrialized, pasteurized foods cross multiple state lines everyday and still risk bacterial outbreaks. Encouraging, not eliminating, local exchange of food products is a preventative measure that would actually require less reactionary pasteurization.

    To discourage farm to consumer relationships in favor of pasteurized industrial food is a sad direction for our food culture and health. The founding fathers all drank unlabeled raw milk from their own cows or uncertified neighboring farms without taking out a life insurance policy.

    The way we’re obtaining milk from our trusty Amish farmer is not that different. We have visited the farm and witnessed it’s cows grazing on the food they were made to eat, in the sun (which provides real vitamin D), and seen first hand the farmer’s proper food production and hygiene practices. (Any pasteurized milk drinkers been to their local CAFO? I’d demand pasteurization too.)

    The FDA seems to think that the product gets an automatic dose of bad bacteria when it crosses a state line. It takes 2 hours for my sealed gallons of raw milk to make it from the clean Pennsylvania farm to my home, in a refrigerated truck (full of much less product than the big ones criss-crossing our country with pasteurized milk), and it’s properly cooled the whole time. Where is the concern?

    Some more intellectual compromises that I’d like to see from you, Mr. Marler:

    Raw milk may not be “magic,” and the government may not believe in “superfoods,” but could you look at the science and at least admit that when the bad bacteria that everyone is so focused on isn’t taking over one of our gallons of clean, properly produced raw milk, that there’s actually some pretty good stuff in there and some of it probably doesn’t survive pasteurization? They are two quite different food products.

    I would also appreciate your research into and acknowledgement of the money trail and motives from the pasteurized milk industry – unless your part of it, then never mind I guess. If not, then why do you think the pasteurized fish industry isn’t going after all the nation’s sushi joints?

    Raw milk consumers are not all silly nitwits with a bizarre need to take unnecessary risks. And you don’t need a law degree or a role in the government to do research, think critically, or question biased authority.

    I appreciate the civil conversation and hope for more.


  • Jim

    @Melanie – the world needs more intelligent beings such as yourself.

  • I think that Sally should disclose who her largest sponsors and donors are, just like any other lobbyist.

  • Kristen Papac

    Amy, WAPF would argue that they are not a significant lobbyist or trade association, but a tax exempt non-profit.
    Bill, I think you got to Sally: