Queensland raw milk producers say Victoria reaction to death and 3 HUS cases is ‘knee-jerk’

Moves by the Victorian Government to introduce new laws aimed at preventing people from drinking unpasteurized milk have prompting questions about whether other states will do the same.

vacvaccine.bs.dec.14Under the changes being introduced in Victoria, suppliers will forced to either pasteurise the product, or add an agent to make it taste bitter.

The changes come after the death of a three-year-old boy earlier this month, after he drank raw milk earlier this month.

Victoria’s Consumer Affairs Minister, Jane Garrett, says the new laws aim to make bath milk undrinkable, by adding an ingredient to make it taste bitter.

“If people do accidentally confuse raw milk with pasteurised milk, they will either be drinking a product that is safe because it’s been pasteurised, or it will have the foulest taste known to human kind and they will not be able to continue drinking it,” she said.

There are less than ten raw milk producers in Queensland, but some are already nervous that similar regulations could be introduced in the Sunshine State.

Following the child’s death in Victoria, Queensland Health came out strongly against the sale of unpasteurised milk.

At the time, Queensland Health’s chief medical officer Dr Jeanette Young said she would like to see big changes in the rules governing ‘bath milk.’

Yesterday a spokesperson for the Queensland Health Minister said the Government’s position had not changed since then.

The state’s producers of unpasteurised milk say there is no need for greater regulation.

Cleopatra’s Bath Milk manager Trevor Mahaffey says the decision in Victoria is a knee-jerk reaction and he doesn’t believe the Queensland Government will follow suit.

He says buyers should be allowed to make their own decisions.

“It’s a shame that the minister down there (in Victoria) hasn’t looked at both sides of the argument and spoken to people from both sides,” he said.

Mr Mahaffey also said it had not been proven the child in Victoria had died as a result of drinking unpasteurised milk.

stupid.jenny.dec.14But, three other kids developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a kidney ailment consistent with shiga-toxin producing E. coli.

Even more baffling was the comments from Queensland Dairy Farmers Organisation president, Brian Tessman, who says it is up to the government to decide how it legislates around raw milk.

“They need to decide is it an acceptable risk or not and either decide if they should ban it or put a quality assurance system on it,” he said.

“They need to go on the science and I am not a scientist and we don’t have anyone at the QDO with the scientific qualifications needed to make that decision.”

Maybe they should get some. Or shut-up.

California county food inspections turn up an array of eye-opening violations

Inspectors, according to The Modesto Bee, pop unannounced into more than 2,300 food service providers throughout Stanislaus County at least twice a year. In the past two years, they’ve suspended licenses 43 times for violations ranging from lack of hot water and warm refrigerators to roach and rat infestations and sewage on the floor.

larry.david.rest.inspec“We hope all our businesses stay viable, but our job is health and safety,” said Jami Aggers, director of the county’s Department of Environmental Resources. Her office deploys 14 inspectors throughout the county. In addition to food service, they also check wells, septic systems and tattoo shops.

Most of what they find, good or gross, is available to anyone with Internet access. Those who aren’t tech-savvy can ask to see hard copies of inspection reports, which must be produced at every food service business.

Some areas of California go a step further, posting letter grades in eateries’ windows reflecting general sanitation and food safety practices. Momentum for such seems lacking in the Northern San Joaquin Valley, although Aggers isn’t opposed.

Stanislaus’ website is the only one in the Northern San Joaquin Valley to post inspection reports of each of its more than 2,300 facilities. The website is limited, however, because the user must know a restaurant’s name or address from a broad field. Also, there is no way to search for time-based reports in case someone wants to avoid eateries with recent problems. To see for yourself, go to http://sbtapp1.co.stanislaus.ca.us/DERFoodFacilities.

Reports on San Joaquin’s website are color-coded, allowing a user to quickly see if an eatery has had major problems (red) as opposed to minor (blue) or those that have been corrected (green), but no specifics are listed. Go to www.sjcehd.com/Programs/Consumer_Protection/food_and_restaurant_inspections.htm

Chinese officials dismissed over diseased meat scandal

China has dismissed eight officials after pork from pigs infected with a “highly contagious virus” was found to have entered the market, state media said Monday.

PigThe country’s latest food scandal was revealed in an investigation by state broadcaster China Central Television which said the annual revenue of the tainted pork was more than 20 million yuan.

The meat had come from slaughterhouses in the city of Gaoan in central Jiangxi province and had entered at least seven provinces in total, said the report, which was first broadcast Saturday.

Don’t thaw meat on melons: FDA warns Brooklyn wholesaler to clean up its act

Coral Beach of The Packer writes the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has Brooklyn wholesaler New Yung Wah Trading Co. in its sights because of unresolved food safety issues that include rodents nesting in a box of thawing meat that was stored on top of fresh melons.

melon.berriesOn Dec. 23 the FDA posted its Dec. 9 warning letter to co-owner Juan Qing Lin. FDA officials cited numerous instances of live and dead rodents, birds flying through the warehouse and landing on fresh produce and other food products during a two-week inspection of one of the company’s warehouses.

There were also plumbing problems, leaking roofs and clogged floor drains. The company had until Dec. 24 to reply to the warning letter.

Deli meat dates matter: Subway investigating date coding fraud in China

In an industry with expensive and perishable ingredients, extending the storage life of inputs at food service can make the the difference between making money and going out of business. subway-sandwich
Since most are based on quality attributes, and not safety, best-before dates doesn’t usually grab my attention. It does when it comes to deli meats. Food service date coding rules are based on Listeria monocytogenes growth; a 2003 U.S. FDA and FSIS quantitative risk assessment identified deli meat as the highest risk food category for Lm illnesses and deaths.
Reuters reports that Subway, purveyor of lots of deli meat, is investigating Chinese media reports that some of their staff were altering storage date codes to push profits.
U.S. fast-food chain Subway is investigating media reports in China that workers at an outlet in Beijing doctored food labels and used produce beyond its expiry date, a Shanghai-based spokeswoman for the firm said on Monday.
Chinese media reports that started circulating on Friday said workers at a Beijing outlet for Subway, which operates globally as a franchise business, changed expiry and production dates on meat, drink and vegetable produce to extend their use.
“Our headquarters here is now investigating the matter,” a Subway spokeswoman said. She said the firm had not reached any conclusions. “We want to investigate what caused the labeling issue and whether or not it was the action of a single franchised outlet.”
The Subway spokeswoman said the firm sent teams to inspect its franchises around the country each month and that it gave staff training on food safety and handling produce.
The Beijing food regulator had also launched an investigation, she added.

Georgia restaurant needs more training on food safety

The health score of the Silver Dragon in Conyers dropped 50 points during a recent routine inspection, and the inspector said management and employees needed additional training on food safety codes.

silver.dragonRaw meats were not being handled with care to prevent contamination. For example, raw chicken and raw beef were thawing inside the same container with juices co-mingling. The Rockdale County inspector said different meats should be kept separate because they have different cook temperatures. Putting them together risks cross-contamination.

Other raw meats were also thawing incorrectly. Raw chicken was in the vegetable sink. Some raw frozen meat was left on the prep table to thaw at room temperature. It was placed in the meat sink under running water.

Silver Dragon, 1889 Highway 138, Conyers, scored 47/U, a steep drop from previous scores of 96/A and 95/A.

Points were also taken off because employees were not following hand-washing procedures. One was observed washing hands without soap. Another washed hands in the dish sink. Two of the employee hand sinks were filled with dishes, scoops, utensils and pieces of wood.


Gorgonzola recalled over Listeria contamination in Austria

According to The Local, Gorgonzola cheese produced by Italian manufacturer CasArrigoni has been recalled from sale after it was found to be infected with Listeria.

gorgonzola-recall-sideThe infected cheese was reportedly recalled immediately from points of sale across Austria and nobody is reported to have been sickened yet, but eight people in Austria died in 2009 because of exposure to Listeria bacteria in cheese, and this summer at least 12 people are reported to have died in Denmark after eating lunch meat contaminated with the bacteria.

‘Recoil in horror’ Raw milk producers to be forced to make their product unpalatable under new Australian state regulation

Raw milk producers will be subject to tough new restrictions, making it harder to sell the product for human consumption, the Victorian Government has said.

5961062-3x2-340x227Under the new regulations, dairy farmers producing milk must either make it safe for human consumption or make it unpalatable by adding a bittering agent.

“Raw milk producers will have to either treat the milk with a pasteurisation process to make sure that any harmful bacteria are killed before there is a risk that consumers will drink it,” Victorian Minister for Consumer Affairs Jane Garrett said.

“If they don’t wish to go through this pasteurisation process, they will be required to add a very small drop of an agent that makes the milk entirely unpalatable.

“This means that the smallest amount will make the individual recoil in horror, which will prevent absolutely the deliberate or accidental consumption.”

The Victorian Health Department said four other children also became ill after drinking the product.

The new rules allow manufacturers and farmers to turn raw milk into non-edible products, Ms Garrett said.

“It is used often in making soap for example, or making stock feed and that can be done without it ever gracing the shelves,” she said.

She said farmers who breached the new rules would face a fine and could have their licences cancelled.

“These new conditions will help protect Victorians from the serious risks of drinking raw unpasteurised milk,” Ms Garrett said.

“Despite the labelling of raw milk as not fit for human consumption, some Victorians have been put at risk from drinking it.

pasteur“Raw milk has legitimate uses, but is not safe to drink. We are going to better regulate the industry to protect consumers.”

 Raw milk, choice and kids



 In May 1943, Edsel Bryant Ford, the son of auto magnate Henry Ford, died at the age of 49 in Detroit, of what some claimed was a broken heart.

Biology, however, decreed that Ford died of undulant fever, apparently brought on by drinking unpasteurized milk from the Ford dairy herd, at the behest of his father’s mistaken belief that all things natural must be good.

Shortly thereafter, my mother – then a child — developed undulate fever, which my grandfather, with no knowledge of microbiology, attributed to the dairy cows on his farm in Ontario, Canada.

He got rid of the cows and went into potatoes, and then asparagus.

Earlier this month, the latest in a seemingly endless number of outbreaks attributed to raw or unpasteurized milk, contributed to the death of a 3-year-old in Victoria, Australia, and left at least three other children under the age of five with hemolytic uremic syndrome, a side effect of infection with shiga-toxin producing E. coli.

In addition to the personal tragedies, every outbreak raises questions about risk and personal choice.

It’s true that choice is a good thing. People make risk-benefit decisions daily by smoking, drinking, driving, and especially in Brisbane, cycling.

But the 19th-century English utilitarian philosopher, John Stuart Mill, noted that absolute choice has limits, stating, “if it (in this case the consumption of raw unpasteurized milk) only directly affects the person undertaking the action, then society has no right to intervene, even if it feels the actor is harming himself.”

Excused from Mill’s libertarian principle are those people who are incapable of self-government — children.

Society generally regulates what is allowed for children – most parents aren’t having a scotch and a smoke with their 3-year-olds.

Celebrity chefs, would-be farmers and the wannabe fashionable can devoutly state that grass-fed cattle are safer than grain-fed by spinning select scientific data — except that the feces of cattle raised on diets of grass, hay and other fibrous forage do contain E. coli O157:H7 as well as salmonella, campylobacter and others.

Ten years ago, Ontario’s former chief medical health officer, said, “Some people feel that unpasteurized milk is either not bad for their health (they don’t believe the health risks) or they actually believe that it has healing properties because it’s all natural and untainted by government interference.” 

Except poop happens, especially in a barn, and when it does people, usually kids, will get sick. That’s why drinking water is chlorinated and milk is pasteurized — one more example of how science can be used to enhance what nature provided.

Yes, lots of other foods make people sick, but in the case of milk, there is a solution to limit harm – pasteurization.

Society has a responsibility to the many — philosopher Mill also articulated how the needs of the many outweighed the needs of the one — to use knowledge to minimize harm.

The only thing lacking in pasteurized milk is the bacteria that make people, especially kids, seriously ill.

Adults, do whatever you think works to ensure a natural and healthy lifestyle, but please don’t impose your dietary regimes on those incapable of protecting themselves: your kids.

Dr. Douglas Powell is a former professor of food safety in Canada and the U.S. who now resides in Brisbane and publishes barfblog.com


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Dubai’s Camelicious hopes to export its camel milk to U.S. market

Officially called Emirates Industry for Camel Milk & Products (EICMP) — but far better known by its playful brand name, Camelicious — the farm represents one of Dubai’s very few attempts at actually producing something: healthy, natural camel milk.

camel.milkAbout 250 people work at EICMP, on a huge tract of land covering 25 to 30 square kilometers.

“Dates and camel milk are part of the staple diet of Bedouins. This is what people here used to live from,” said company communications director Kirsten Lange, interviewed during our recent visit to EICMP. “Quite a few locals have camels. They drink the raw milk from their own camels, even though they might live in the city.”

At the moment, about 3,600 camels make up this operation, Lange said. The idea is to have 10,000 animals within the next two or three years.

So how do the workers keep track of all these dromedaries?

“The camels have numbers, but of course our vets know the old ones,” Lange said as she guided us around the farm. “Once in awhile, we give them names. Once we had a camel with lots of hair; we called her Tina Turner. They have GPS trackers on their collars, and we have a very extensive database. On every camel we have a huge database, and they get regular blood and urine tests.”

The point is to get these camels to produce as much milk as possible. The average camel gives seven liters a day, though not all camels are producing at all times. Daily production averages 5,000 to 6,000 liters, she said.

Last February, the company got permission from U.K. authorities to export its camel milk to the British market. The Camelicious brand is now available in selected ethnic stores in London, Brighton, Manchester and Bradford. Milk powder has also been shipped to potential partners in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries. …

However, getting the green light from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could be a long way off, especially considering that it’s still strictly illegal to import or sell camel milk in the United States.

As good as its camel milk may be, Camelicious won’t be doing business with one Middle Eastern country anytime soon: Israel. Besides the fact that the UAE and Israel don’t have diplomatic or trade relations, camel milk isn’t kosher — as any rabbi can attest — and is therefore prohibited under Jewish law.

It ain’t about food safety: Why halal certification is in turmoil

Kirralie Smith is a permaculture farmer from northern New South Wales and a mother of three. She is also the public face of the virulent campaign to boycott halal food and products.

UnknownHalal means permissible for Muslims to eat or use, and Smith’s Facebook page “‘Boycott Halal in Australia” has 41,000 supporters. She speaks at events organised by “Islam-critical” groups such as the Q Society, which has also been involved in local campaigns to stop mosques being built. Her “Halal Choices” website, she says, gets 80,000 visitors a month. 

She says her objection is not to Islam itself but the extra cost she thinks is imposed on Australian consumers by companies paying to have products – everything from milk to pies and shampoo – certified halal. 

Halal products are certified as being free from anything that Muslims are not allowed to eat or use (such as pork and alcohol). The products must be made and stored using machines that  are cleansed according to Islamic law. 

Large processing plants will have Muslim staff members who are accredited in some instances to bless the factory. Halal slaughtering of animals in Australia is done after they are stunned.

Smith and her supporters claim halal certification is a scam by Muslim interests to raise money for mosques and therefore for “jihad.” They base this assertion on media reports in France, Canada and the United States claiming certification funds had been paid to organisations linked to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Yet neither Smith nor her unofficial patron, the Q Society, could elaborate on the Australian situation.