Scotch and a smoke with your kid? Raw milk fans cheer state laws

Bioethicist Arthur Caplan, head of the Division of Medical Ethics, at New York University, tells Today Health, “Adults drive, cliff dive and smoke, but they have to be informed about risks. The ethical considerations become much more difficult when kids are involved.”

colbert.raw.milkThat’s because kids disproportionately get sick from raw milk.

This past week, West Virginia — which, like many states, bans the direct-to-consumer sales of raw milk —joined other states in a growing movement called herd sharing, which allows citizens of the state to sign a contract with a farmer, buy shares of a cow, and then to pay the farmer to care for the animals and milk them. These shareholders then get the milk in all its raw glory.

“A lot of states are looking at raw milk sales in one way or another, including herdshares, which are sometimes called cowshares,” says Pete Kennedy, president of the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund, a group which opposes the ban against interstate sale of raw milk. “But it’s tough trying to get legal or expanded access to (raw) milk for people who want it, and state by state, it can get a little crazy.”

That’s because back in the late 1980s, the Food and Drug Administration prohibited the distribution of raw milk across state lines for direct sale to consumers. But the U.S. can’t halt products being made within a state to be sold inside that state. That’s led to a patchwork of state laws governing the sale of raw milk.

SnakeOilIn California, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, among other states, you can buy raw milk straight from a retail shelf or farmer’s market, according to the advocacy group. But in New York and Massachusetts, for example, you have to go to a licensed farm to buy raw milk. In Illinois and Kansas you can buy from an unlicensed farm, but if you live in Florida, you can’t buy it at all, unless it’s for your pet.

Currently, the FDA, the World Health Organization, American Medical Association, American Veterinary Association, International Association for Food Protection, and the National Environmental Health Association advise against drinking raw milk, as does the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“People want to be more responsible for their sustainable environment and what they are putting into their bodies but they conflate the two issues because natural doesn’t always equal healthy,” says Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, professor of pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine and lead author of the American Academy of Pediatric position statement on raw milk.

The dairy industry worries that illnesses from raw milk sales could damage public confidence in the safety of dairy products.

“I grew up on a dairy farm and anytime you start milking a cow I will tell you they start defecating, and it can get everywhere,” says Dr. Faith Critzer, a food microbiologist with the University of Tennessee and a food safety extension specialist for the state of Tennessee. “There are just too many points of contamination and pasteurization will get rid of contamination. It will save your life.”

“These are educated people and getting some to change their minds about raw milk is difficult,” she says. “But when things go wrong (with raw milk), they can go terribly wrong.”

Klosterman discusses the ethics of preventing dumpster diving

Dumpster diving, or freganism, has been around for a while but the current movement gained momentum through restauranteur (and Against Me! drummer) Warren Oakes’ magazine, Why Freegan?

Chuck Klosterman, author of one of the best music books, Fargo Rock City, answers a question in his other job as The Ethicist in the New York Times Sunday Magazine.Unknown


consider Dumpster-diving to be moral. I understand that supermarkets don’t like it because the divers are their potential clients. But is it ethically wrong to Dumpster-dive in a private Dumpster? TOMO JACOBSON, NEW YORK

You suspect the supermarkets are against this because the divers — if not allowed to take the rubbish — would be forced to pay for nonexpired food through conventional means. That would indeed be unethical; if food is deliberately being discarded, there’s no reason a person should be stopped from consuming what someone else views as waste. In actuality, however, supermarkets are primarily against Dumpster-diving because it happens on private property, and “diving” constitutes trespassing. Furthermore, having people rummaging around in garbage reflects badly on the perception of the business, not to mention the liability risks involved with allowing strangers to jump inside a massive metal box filled with refuse and then consume the contents. This is ultimately an issue over trespassing and how a private business wants to represent itself in the public sphere. The supermarkets absolutely have the right to stop people from rifling though their privately owned receptacles, in the same way that a homeowner does.

Trespassing may be a factor but grocery store food safety folks also worry that someone might pick out some food that makes them, or others, ill.

Possible foodborne illness at ethics conference

One of the cornerstones of ethics and social responsibility, but one that is rarely discussed, is don’t make people barf.

With an Alanis Morissette level of ironical irony, a number of Indiana State University students and employees reported having flu-like symptoms after consuming food they ate at the April 4 Ethics and Social Responsibility Conference at ISU.

ISU food service providers are denying that contaminated food is to blame.

Conference attendees were served box lunches of cold cut sandwiches, a fruit cup, a pickle and a bag of potato chips.

The Indiana Statesman contacted one of the event’s Scott College of Business student organizers who was instructed not to speak on the record about reports of illness linked to the conference.

But College of Business Associate Dean Bruce McLaren said he received reports on April 5 of attendees having become ill following the conference. McLaren said he knew of multiple students and faculty who became ill. After receiving those reports, he notified Sodexo, he said.

According to a statement issued April 12 by Sodexo public relations director Monica Zimmer, "Sodexo was notified about alleged foodborne illness at Indiana State University. We have reviewed our procedures and are confident they are in line with our stringent food safety standards."

"The health department completed three inspections in the Hulman Memorial Student Union this week and found no violations. In addition, Sodexo received a food safety score of 99% during a recent inspection by a third-party auditor."