North Carolina and the raw milk controversy
Source of Article: http://www.examiner.com/x-16563-Charlotte-Sustainable-Foods-Examiner~y2009m8d20-North-Carolina-and-the-raw-milk-controversy
August 20, 8:29 PMCharlotte Sustainable Foods ExaminerTaylor Blanchard
Raw milk, or milk that has not been pasteurized or homogenized, is becoming more and more popular – and controversial. Supporters of raw milk point to the health benefits of raw milk, while opponents point to concerns about disease and contamination.
Pasteurization and homogenization
Homogenization is a process that mechanically treats milk to create a uniform consistency. Without homogenization the cream of the milk would rise to the top.
Raw milk fans claim that pasteurization (and to some extent homogenization) affects the flavor of milk and also kills the beneficial bacteria, enzymes and vitamins found in milk. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) say that pasteurization is necessary to kill pathogens that could cause diseases and contamination including listeria, E.coli and salmonella.
The case for and against raw milk
Proponents of raw milk cite differences between milk from industrially raised animals and milk from pasture-raised animals – specifically that pathogens in milk are mostly a result of animal stress, poor sanitation and sickness – and raising animals on pasture eliminates these causes. The Real Milk Web site makes this point: “We do NOT recommend consumption of raw milk from conventional confinement dairies or dairies which produce milk intended for pasteurization.”
On the other side of the issue, the FDA and the CDC claim that pasteurization is necessary to prevent illness and death. They especially warn those with weakened immune systems, pregnant women, as well as the young and elderly to avoid raw milk.
According to the FDA’s Web site, the CDC, “reported that from 1998 to 2005, there were 45 outbreaks of foodborne illness in which unpasteurized milk or cheese likely made from unpasteurized milk were implicated. These outbreaks accounted for 1007 illnesses and 104 hospitalizations, and two deaths.” The CDC suspects the actual number of cases to be higher.
In comparison, the CDC also estimates that there are 76 million cases of foodborne illness each year in the United States. The CDC goes on to say that, “the great majority of these cases are mild and cause symptoms for only a day or two. Some cases are more serious, and CDC estimates that there are 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths related to foodborne diseases each year.”
Raw milk and the law
In North Carolina, it is against the law for farmers to sell raw milk for human consumption. Farmers may, however, sell raw milk for animal consumption.
In neighboring states, the laws are quite different. South Carolina licenses Grade A raw milk dairies that are inspected and tested. These licensed dairies may sell raw milk directly to consumers on the farm and via retail outlets. Virginia law allows consumers to purchase a “cow share” from a farmer who boards and milks the cow for the share owners.
Buying milk in North Carolina
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