Pasteurization protects people

A Kansas State colleague was telling us about his travels during the winter break, including a visit to a daughter-in-law who is seriously committed to providing her young children – and his grandchildren – with raw or unpasteurized goat’s milk.

I said we’d update the table of outbreaks and he could provide it, as information, without the lectures, to his daughter, and possibly leverage the future health of his grandchildren, although that kind of discussion wouldn’t go very far (even though several of the outbreaks involve raw goat’s milk).

Columnist Stephen Hume of the Vancouver Sun writes today that he doesn’t believe claims that pasteurizing milk destroys its nutritional value or that it’s a conspiracy of big agribusiness and big government to promote the interests of big pharma.

I see pasteurization of dairy products as a blessing. It prevents our return to a dreadful past in which diseases transmitted by raw milk afflicted hundreds of thousands every year. In fact, they still do in many parts of the world where people can’t get pasteurized dairy products. …

Raw milk advocates who trumpet the health benefits of unpasteurized products are in fact the beneficiaries of precisely the public health “conspiracy” to pasteurize that so many deride and vilify.

I’m all for personal choice, and there are lots of risky foods out there. Choice is the reason raw milk farmer Alice Jongerden in British Columbia can risk public health, waste tremendous public health resources that could be better used elsewhere, and take up time in the Supreme Court of B.C. by asking judges to set aside a 2010 court order that prohibits her from producing and packaging unpasteurized dairy products.

I choose not to consume raw dairy because the pasteurized alternatives offer an easy disease control option, and I try not to inflict food poisoning risks on my children, who don’t have much of a choice.

An updated list of outbreaks related to raw and unpasteurized milk and products is available at:

Real raw milk facts? Barf

I am immediately suspicious of anyone who says they speak fact.

It’s like I’ve told my kids for years – and I’m especially ingraining you, 16-month-old Sorenne — anyone who has to say, ‘trust me’ is immediately untrustworthy.

So when a web site is named,, I’m wondering whose real facts are involved. Is there a publicly available document for deciding whose facts count? We have one, it’s available at

And these folks haven’t studied risk perception and communication 101 – facts are important but never enough.

I get all the BS surrounding raw milk – went through all that with genetically engineered foods over a decade ago – and I get all the BS the geniuses in the raw milk movement post about how the last thing they ate made them sick, especially if it was at a fast-food joint (it wasn’t).

Any investigation of foodborne illness is fraught with uncertainty and speculation. That’s where epidemiology comes in, to make statistically-based best guesses to prevent others from getting sick.

It’s better than faith-based food safety.

What is most disconcerting about all the chatter around raw milk is the waste of scarce public resources – inspectors got better things to do, especially when there is a ready solution available (hint, it’s pasteurization).

Oh, and we (left, not exactly as shown) speak fact.