July 2011

photofsn.JPGI am at the 100th meeting of the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) in Milwaukee (See our booth). All the talk of course was about food safety as I gave the opening speech this morning about the Food Safety Modernization Act and handed out $40,000 in scholarships to local, state and international health departments

Screen Shot 2011-07-31 at 2.03.02 PM.pngThe Pennsylvania departments of Health and Agriculture and the Allegheny County Health Department are advising the public of the possible health risks associated with products, specifically glass-bottled milk, from Brunton Dairy in Aliquippa, Beaver County.

Since June 15, five individuals – three young children and two older adults – developed diarrhea and other symptoms caused

So, who is winning?

I was asked to talk with Sally Fallon Morrell on the Kojo Nnamdi show on WAMU Public Radio in D.C. last week in what the host determined to be the “Raw Milk Wars.”  The producer who called me said that she had tried to find someone, anyone, in public health to go on the show, but everyone refused.  So, she was left with me.

Sally, who has become famous for her pronouncement that raw milk is “magic” was pleasant enough, as was the host and the callers – even my friend Harry.  Some the comments on the WAMU were a bit harsh, but after two decades of being a lawyer, I am more than used to that.   I especially warm to the comments by members of the “Teat Party.”

I was struck by a number of things that Sally said during the show.  One assertion she said made me think I need to do the experiment she suggested of putting Campylobacter in raw milk, leaving it in the fridge for two days with the bottle cap off, and like magic, the Campylobacter disappears.

I was not at all surprised that she mentioned that between 1% and 3% of people in the U.S. consume raw milk – recent CDC’s FoodNet data supports that.  This gets me back to “Dead Milk” 23, “Magic Milk” 202 – who is winning?

I have been keeping track of “Outbreaks, Illnesses and Recalls Linked to Raw (Unpasteurized) and Pasteurized Dairy Products, United States since January 1, 2010 – July 30, 2011.”  Here is the breakdown:


  • 18 raw dairy outbreaks with 202 illnesses, 24 hospitalizations, and no deaths (16 fluid raw milk, 2 aged raw milk cheese)
  • 1 pasteurized dairy outbreak with 23 illnesses, 2 hospitalizations, and no deaths
  • 1 queso fresco Mexican-style cheese outbreak with 5 illnesses and hospitalizations, no deaths
  • 3 sporadic illnesses and hospitalizations from illegal Mexican-style cheese, no deaths

Recalls (no illnesses reported)

  • 11 raw dairy (5 fluid raw milk, 6 aged raw milk cheese)
  • 6 queso fresco Mexican-style cheese
  • 1 chocolate milk due to inadequate pasteurization
  • 1 imported Italian cheese made from pasteurized milk

I know, I know David, some of the raw milk outbreaks and recalls are from raw milk that is intended to be pasteurized, but someone simply could not wait and drank it raw.  However, many of the above outbreaks and recalls came from raw milk truly intended to be consumed that way, and the outbreaks and recalls still happened.  Given the amount of pasteurized milk and cheese consumed in the U.S. yearly versus the amount of raw milk and cheese consumed, 23 illnesses (although unacceptable) sure seems like the winning side when then raw milk side is sickening 202.

I am sure that David, Young Bill or Sally might well dispute the numbers above or claim the outbreaks did not happen, or the recalls were not necessary, or there is simply a grand conspiracy to try and pry the glass of raw milk or slice of cheese out of their cold dead hands.  That is a debate public health should be engaged in.

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The CDC has reported that a total of 99 individuals infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Agona have been reported from 23 states between January 1 and July 22, 2011. The number of ill persons identified in each state with the outbreak strain is as follows: Arkansas (1), Arizona (3), California (7), Colorado (1)

A Houston company is recalling products made with fresh cut papaya in connection with the multistate outbreak of Salmonella Agona.

papaya-fruit-plate.jpgGHSW of Houston said it was notified that papayas used in its products were associated with the Agromod Produce recall. On July 23, Agromod announced a recall of papayas imported from Mexico that have been

Tri State Beef, a Cincinnati, Ohio, establishment, is recalling approximately 228,596 pounds of beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The following product is subject to recall:


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