I was curious what the “beef” was really all about. According to the State of California, “the new standard sets a maximum amount of coliform bacteria at no more than 10 bacteria per milliliter (mL) in milk sold raw to the consumer, the same limit required for pasteurized milk. This level is consistent with both national and international public health and food safety requirements as reflected in standards set for pasteurized dairy products by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Canadian Food Inspection Service, and the European Economic Community (EEC). It is also the same standard currently used for raw milk sold for direct consumption in several western states, including Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, and Washington.”
The State also suggested the following for reducing the risk of bacteria being in the raw milk:
• Properly managing manure, bedding, housing and pastures to prevent cows from arriving overly dirty at the milking parlor.
• Washing the udders and teats of cows, and ensuring they are clean and dry prior to milking.
• Ensuring the hands of milkers are clean and dry
• Use of an appropriate commercially available pre-milking teat sanitizer to further reduce the amount of bacteria contacting milking equipment.
• Milking any cows with infected udders last, and ensuring such milk is properly excluded from milk intended for consumption.
• Ensuring all equipment throughout the entire milking system is properly cleaned and sanitized after each milking.
• Ensuring detergents and sanitizers are used at effective concentrations, and that adequate amounts and temperatures of hot water are utilized.
• Establishing and adhering to a maintenance schedule for milking equipment to ensure proper operation and to replace worn out inflations, hoses, gaskets and other parts that can harbor coliform bacteria.
• Providing sufficient refrigeration to ensure milk is properly cooled and stored at 45 degrees or below.
• Ensuring the milk products plant where the raw milk is handled and finally packaged for the consumer is also properly constructed, clean and sanitary. Bottles of raw market milk must be mechanically capped to avoid contamination from workers’ hands.
So, the rules seem to work in other states and other parts of the world? I certainly hope the State of California does not cave to pressure from the raw milk folks, who seem to spend as much time or more on the internet blogging and making Youtube videos as they do milking. Perhaps Arnold, “The Governator,” will call and ask me to come in to assist in the defense of the State? On the other hand, perhaps I should just stay out of the fight, let the raw milk people win and continue to provide me with work? I’ve always wanted to own land in Fresno and Paicines. Perhaps I can give up my "Batman" title for "Bill the Barbarian?"
We are continuing to investigate the raw milk and raw milk product E. coli O157:H7 outbreak from the Fall of 2006 that the State of California linked to Organic Pastures. What we have learned from Health Department records was that there were a total of 6 cases (5 culture confirmed, PFGE patterns indistinguishable) consisting of 4 boys and 2 girls. The median age was 8 years (range 6 – 18 years). All had bloody diarrhea – 3 were hospitalized, 2 with HUS. 5 had a history of consuming Organic Pastures raw milk products (one was raw chocolate colostrum). No E. coli O157:H7 was detected in the product, but high fecal coliform counts were found in the colostrum and chocolate colostrum (at least 1 sample from each product had high standard plate counts). 199 Organic Pastures cows’ feces were tested, 3 were positive for E. coli O157:H7 but were different from the outbreak strain by PFGE.
I had posted earlier on "The Legal History of Raw Milk." I was recently sent a very great PowerPoint from a presentation given at The Association of Food and Drug Officials by Joyce WeinIliya, Assistant Attorney General State of Texas in June of 2007. The PowerPoint PDF is here.