Batten down the hatches, boys, a storm a-gonna blow.
Time magazine ran an article on raw milk in this week's issue, written by Alice Park, and it doesn't say that raw milk is like Louis Armstrong's trumpet mixed with Van Gogh's paintbrush. All the raw milk nuts in the world are gearing up to pound their poor keyboards like a red-headed stepmule.
I've gone off on raw milk myself, the last time not so long ago in Raw Milk Article Long but Flawed. Time's article, unlike that one, wasn't written by a long-term raw milk advocate. When somebody objective writes on the subject, the answers come out completely different.
What heresy did Time commit? Judge for yourself.
The available evidence suggests that without a bug-killing step like pasteurization, even the cleanest dairy with the healthiest cows cannot always expect to produce safe milk. In testimony before Maryland state delegates, the FDA's [John] Sheehan stressed that raw milk in any form "should not be consumed by anyone, at any time, for any reason." He cited 45 outbreaks of disease from 1998 to 2005 that were traced to unpasteurized milk or cheese--and pointed to the dangers of exposing the vulnerable immune systems of young children, the elderly and those with immune disorders to the colonies of bugs that can populate untreated dairy. Raw milk makes up less than half of 1% of milk sales in the U.S. but accounts for twice as many disease outbreaks as pasteurized milk.
Farmers like [Mark] McAfee counter that all raw milk is not created equal. Government surveys, they claim, lump together raw milk that is destined for pasteurization--and therefore doesn't have to be table-ready--along with milk, like McAfee's, that is produced for human consumption. But that doesn't convince Kathryn Boor, chair of food science at Cornell University, who grew up on a farm drinking raw milk--but won't do it now. "You can't always tell when a cow is sick," she says. "And cows can sometimes kick the milking machine off. Generally, what's on the barn floor is not something I want in a glass."
What scientists like McAfee and Boor are saying is that for raw milk to be safe, it has to be perfect every step of the way every single time. Most foods rely on some sort of processing to ensure safety, which is what pasteurization is. Without that needed check drinking raw milk is like, well, as McAfee said, "playing Russian roulette with your health". Not worth the risk.
BTW, you'd think that a magazine with Time's resources could answer a simple question.
Why drink raw milk at all? Fans are convinced that heating destroys the good bacteria--the same probiotic critters that retailers now add back into some yogurts--as well as enzymes that can be beneficial to your health.
So. Is this true? Isn't the absolutely most important point of all to say that this claim either is real or is completely phony?
Yes it is. So why raise the claim -- and then never address it in any way at any time in the article?
Bad journalism, Time. Not as bad as what The Boston Globe committed when it printed that article I critiqued in my earlier post, but still not up to my standards. We're talking peoples' health, here. Get it both right, which you did, and complete, which you didn't.