‘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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34 sickened: Australian Xmas party not so simple

More than 30 people came down with food poisoning after a Christmas party in Victoria.

Disco-Scene-airplaneOne man was taken to hospital from the gathering in Portsea, while another 33 others suffered nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Paramedics say only a few of the 44 party guests, which included six children, were unaffected.

In yet another reminder that it really is 1978 in Australia, paramedic team leader Brendan Keane said Friday, “With lots of barbecues and parties over the holidays it’s important for people to take some simple food handling precautions and reduce the chances of food poisoning.”

If it’s so simple why do so many people get sick?

Crypto outbreak in Victoria, Australia pools

Victorians could be in the poo, literally, if they sought relief at the local pool.

Victoria’s chief health officer Dr Rosemary Lester said there has been a three-fold increase in gastro cases after hot weather sparked people seeking to cool off at pool.pooppublic swimming pools.

She urged those who have had diarrhea not to go into a swimming pool for at least 14 days after symptoms had stopped for fear of passing on the bug.

There were 155 Victorian cases of gastro caused by the cryptosporidium parasite last month, three times the February average of 53.

Australian sprouts recalled again

There’s been another recall of mung bean sprouts grown in Victoria (that’s where Melbourne is).

For the second time this month, mung beans and mung bean and alfalfa sprout mixes have been recalled due to E. coli contamination. The salad mixes were grown in two separate locations, one in Flowerdale north of Melbourne, and the other in Gippsland in Victoria’s south east.

ABC News reports that “last year 46 people in Germany died from eating E. coli contaminated sprouts, however this is a different strain of the bacteria and considered unlikely to make people sick.”

Fifty-three people died in the German E. coli O104 sprout outbreak. And again, no details on what kind of E. coli, or if anyone is sick.

A table of sprout-related outbreaks is available at http://bites.ksu.edu/sprouts-associated-outbreaks.

165 sick from norovirus at Canadian student journalism conference up from 75

The Victoria Times Colonist (that’s in British Columbia, in Canada) reports 147 delegates are believed to have contracted norovirus during the final night of a four-day university journalism conference at the Harbour Towers Hotel and Suites, and the final tally has yet to come.

More than one- third of the 370 delegates attending the Canadian University Press national conference went down with severe nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Eighteen hotel staff also contracted the virus about 24 hours after the first few students showed symptoms, according to hotel management.

"That’s a really significant outbreak," said Dr. Murray Fyfe, chief medical health officer for the Vancouver Island Health Authority. "And the fact that we had people who were perfectly well and then became ill after coming into contact with others or got sick when they got home, that’s really typical of norovirus."

The highly contagious virus kept some delegates isolated in their hotel rooms for days before they could check out.

Public health should protect public health and name names; Victoria health types resort to blame the consumer defense

After the belated public notification about a salmonella outbreak linked to Rizzo’s Pizza in Ballarat, Australia, the Herald-Sun uncovered a bunch of other incidents of people barfing in the state of Victoria that were never or belatedly made public.

A poisoning outbreak at a sushi bar that left 84 people sick and 19 in hospital is among serious food safety incidents kept quiet by authorities.

Other cases uncovered include 17 diners who fell acutely ill after eating Vietnamese chicken and pork rolls; 10 people struck down after eating eggs Benedict at a cafe; and 13 people who fell crook from chicken parmigiana at a hotel.

Health department figures show a significant rise in salmonella cases in the past two years, many of them linked to eggs (a table of raw-egg related outbreaks in Australia is available at http://bites.ksu.edu/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia).

Brooke Dellavedova, a principal at Maurice Blackburn, said she often heard about food poisoning outbreaks, but new laws meant class actions were difficult to mount on behalf of victims.

"So the proprietors get a slap on the wrist, if that, and that’s the end of the story," she said.

Department of Health spokesman Graeme Walker said the department did not routinely reveal the names of businesses because its role was to identify and remove the source and investigate the cause.

Acting chief health officer Dr Rosemary Lester said the information was not being kept secret and salmonella was common adding, "We do know that many cases of salmonella arise in the home and other outlets.”

This isn’t about where salmonella happens: this is about accountability by publicly-funded health types.

18 sick, 1 dead in Australian salmonella outbreak

A restaurant in Ballarat, northwest of Melbourne, was closed for a week on Dec. 30, 2011, after a cluster of salmonella infections including one death, were linked to the eatery.

A Health Department spokesman confirmed 13 cases of salmonella linked to the eatery, plus another five suspected cases.

Investigations are continuing into whether the death of an elderly man on December 30 is connected to the case.

Health officials said the premises required “a thorough clean-up” and they ordered an extensive overhaul of the business’s food-handling procedures.

Staff were also ordered to undertake more training in food handling.

In another example of repetition-doesn’t-make-it-right, he owner of the business said yesterday he was shocked by the incident.

“We’ve been using the same procedures for 21 years and never had such a thing. We don’t know what caused it but we have done everything the Health Department has asked us to do – everything – but we don’t know if it’s our fault or not.”

The owner said he had changed his supplier of eggs.

While the restaurant has reopened for business, it is still being monitored by Ballarat City Council.

Acting chief executive officer Jeff Pulford declined to say whether charges were pending.

“The matter is the subject of an ongoing investigation in conjunction with the Department of Health and as such it is inappropriate to make any comment,” he said.

If people were getting sick in Dec., the place was shut on Dec. 30, and almost two weeks later the restaurant is reopened with no more details than we’ve changed our egg supplier, it is more than appropriate to make a comment. How are consumers to know whether they should eat at the place or not?