I spend a lot of time trying to convince companies why it is a bad idea to poison their customers – either suing them through Marler Clark or educating them through Outbreak Inc

Educating consumers is also something we all need to do for ourselves.  We need to pay attention to what we consume.  However, in our search for knowledge about what may be good for us, shouldn’t we expect that the manufacturers and sellers of our food be fair and unbiased about the risks of consuming the food they sell us?

Warning Labels – the "Holy Grail" of manufacturers and sellers.  Many manufacturers and sellers think that a warning label saves them from their customer (or the customer’s child) from suing them if the product in fact has a defect – in the case of food – a pathogen that can sicken or kill.  But, a warning label is a "double-edged sword."  If you are too honest – "the product may contain E. coli, Listeria or Campylobacter – consume this product and it may kill you" – that might be bad for sales?  Too vague and what do you get?

What do you think about Organic Pastures’ warning label?  Real or Imaginary?  Perhaps it is just best to keep the shit out.

California Code of Regulations

Title 17. Public Health
Division 1. State Department of Health Services
Chapter 5. Sanitation (Environmental)
Subchapter 2. Foods and Drugs
Article 3.7. Raw Milk and Raw Milk Products

S 17:11380. Required Health Warning on Labels of Raw Milk and Raw Milk Products.

(a) Raw Milk and raw milk products shall bear the following warning on the principal display panel or panels of the label:


Raw (unpasteurized) milk and raw milk dairy products may contain disease-causing micro-organisms. Persons at highest risk of disease from these organisms include newborns and infants; the elderly; pregnant women; those taking corticosteroids, antibiotics or antacids; and those having chronic illnesses or other conditions that weaken their immunity.

‘Raw milk product’ means any food which contains raw milk, and shall include, but not be limited to, cheese (except when ripened or cured at least 60 days pursuant to sections 37975 and 38001 Food & Agric. of the Food and Agricultural Code), cream, butter and kefir.

Hmm, I wonder if Organic Pasture’s Warnings are sufficient?

  • Interesting question. But it misses the real question: Is the labeling really something the raw milk opponents care about, or just a distraction? in other words, would the proper labeling/warning signs cause them to change their views? I think not. If so, this is an interesting discussion point, but probably not meaningful in the larger scheme of things.

  • Michele

    Nice post. I looked at a bottle of this raw milk at a store, and pretty much needed a magnifying glass to read the warning label (and I don’t wear glasses). Shouldn’t the government warning include a font size that the average person can see? Or, perhaps the label could be printed and posted on the dairy case at point-of-sale.

  • I just got this email:
    The label on your blog is old. They did a major re-design of their whole line about 8 weeks ago. The milk jugs are square now. This paragraph is now below the one in the picture on your blog:
    “Because every immune system is different, the producer, distributor, and retailer of this raw product disclaim any potential consumer liability caused by the purchase of this product. By purchasing this product the consumer assumes the risk of consuming this bio-diverse whole food.”
    My thought – what the hell does that mean?

  • cheryl berenson-MPH student OHSU

    Looks to me like it (raw milk) shouldn’t be on the shelf(cooler). Who really pays for the medical care when someone gets sick? If i was in business i wouldn’t venture into this market- it is an accident waiting to happen!!

  • Mary

    Why aren’t children listed on this government warning label? The warning label is on the back of the bottle. How would someone know to look for it?
    How about a label with simple language posted right on the front of the bottle? “This product might contain cow shit. If so, it could make you severely ill or even kill you. You may want to boil it before you drink it.”

  • John Munsell

    Perhaps 15 years ago, USDA required all meat plants to print Safe Handling Labels on each box of meat we produced. This ruling was but an exercise in futility, because NONE of our customers read them. Laws can be passed with all kinds of labeling requirments, but if such labels are not read, they are virtually useless. Bottom line: food manufacturers need to produce safe food, and a multitude of labels will not insulate the manufacturer from liability. Labels are but mere window dressing, a proasic attempt to assuage consumer concern that the food contained therein is wholesome.

  • raw milk drinker

    I feel sorry for you.. you are uninformed.
    I drink raw milk…and am healing up from a lifetime of being sick from “fda safe foods” with no nutritional anything to them, and lactose intolorance. pastrized milk, ice cream made from pasturized milk is nothing but poison.
    I trust raw milk, I drink organic pastures milk all the time and never get sick like i did when i was drinking psturized milk.
    Here’s your real problem right here… real milk, raw milk, cures diseases and strengthens immune systems so that people are not getting sick as much and not going to the dr. for meds..
    it’s not the case against raw milk.. cause that’s not the problem.. it’s that the medical people are afraid that their jobs could be in jepardy cause raw milk is good for you.
    this is the real reason that people are against raw milk.
    life has changed for the better because i stopped drinking that pasturized poison. lactose intolorance doesn’t happen with raw milk. just pasturized. cause pasturized milk is bad for you.

  • Pasteurized milk drinker

    Raw milk drinker…when you (or, God forbid, your children) get Salmonella, shiga-toxin producing E.coli, Campylobacter, Listeria, or some other nasty, life-threatening bacterium, don’t say you weren’t warned.
    If you want to drink raw milk, fine. Pasteurization is one of the biggest public health successes of the last 200 years. If you choose not to take advantage of it, and it’s legal where you live, I’m not inclined to stop you. Lots of other boneheaded activities are still legal.
    But don’t willfully ignore/deny the risks. When you deny the validity of the preponderance of scientific evidence demonstrating the hazards of raw milk consumption, you just come across as crazy, which doesn’t help your case. Here’s a hint: you raw-milk advocates should be marketing your cause as a free-will issue, not a scientific debate. Science is not on your side.
    But you should NOT be giving that stuff to your children, who aren’t able to make informed choices about what they eat, and who are more vulnerable to bacterial infections. They can DIE. Do you understand that?!

  • parent

    What my children eat (or drink) is entirely my responsibility and right to decide.
    You choose to give your adulterated poison, I choose to give mine the health building food that has nourished untold generations.

  • As interesting and old as this conversation is — here are the facts (both scientific and personal)
    1. People die from drinking pasteurized milk – see https://www.marlerblog.com/2008/01/articles/legal-cases/4-people-dead-after-drinking-listerialaden-pasteurized-milk-from-massachusetts/
    2. The product, as usual is not the problem — it is the process. Manure is not a natural ingredient in any kind of milk… it has to be introduced.
    3. Enzymes and nutrients are killed during the pasteurization process. Regardless of the product science has shown repeatedly that when we process anything we destroy natural elements of the product.
    4. With the same mentality towards medical care lets approach all food, drink, and personal behavior in our United States and label/outlaw those that end in tragic results. Lets talk obesity, diabetes, smoking related health issues. Does this justify the use of any product? No. It just shows that we close our eyes to many things that are bad and are even produced to be bad for us.
    5. Does the consumer have the right to choose? Yes.
    6. Does the manufacturer/distributor have the responsibility to ensure the safe production and handling of a product? Yes
    7. Read the Swiss or British studies on raw milk benefits towards allergies and asthma.
    8. Can raw milk be dangerous — Yes. But no more so than any other product (peanut butter, vegetables, chicken, etc.) it is how the item is handled. Work on safeguards that allow a product that has been shown to have health benefits to be sold to the public to enjoy those benefits.
    9. People wanting raw milk are not just a bunch of activists — they are mothers, fathers, consumers, white collared, blue collared, men and women of faith and without, they are us === they have the right to choose.
    Vote Milk!

  • karen roth

    I am a western-trained dietitan working at a mainstream healthcare institution. I absolutely recommend RAW MILK. The nutrition if far superior to pasteurized milk. Here’s why:
    1. Pasteurization is a heating process. The temperature needs to rise to 176 degrees to kill pathogens. However, that same heat also kills the essential enzymes needed to properly assimilate the vitamins and minerals. For example, phosphatase is needed to properly absorb the calcium. When you drink pasteurized and ultra pasteurized milk, it becomes a poor source of calcium.
    Why is pasteurization needed? Well, factory farms that produce the milk is the source of the problem. When thousands of cows are in tight proximity of each other in an industrial shed, they cannot escape exposure to their own fecal waste. Combine this with their diet. A cow’s natural diet is grass. When they are fed a corn-based diet, this creates digestive problems for them. This is one of the factors that makes them so sick. When the cows are unhealthy, the milk is unhealthy. This is why there is such a need to pasteurize. Would you eat a sick, rotten, unhealthy tomato? No. The same is true with all food. The more fresh and healthy, the more nutritious and tasty. Local, organic, sustainable farms feed their cows their natural grass diet, and the cows do not suffer in their environment. The healthy cows produce healthy milk. Then you will see amazing changes in the health of the individual.
    It took me 8 months to finally get up the courage to drink raw milk, because I was told it is unsafe. It couldn’t be farther from the truth. I have lowered my cholesterol, my hair has stopped falling out, and I have a calm, contented nervous system, just to name a few. This is because I have made the choice to eat unpasteurized foods. I am left to wonder if you have been paid by a lobbyist from the Chemical industry to proactively add “negative spin” talk about raw milk, to influence the public. It is not going to work anymore. The people have the most power, actually. As Michael Pollan states: If people really knew what happens on factor farms, they would not want to eat food coming from there anymore. I highly recommend you see the movie “Food, Inc”, out in theatres now.