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Food Safety and Quality Conference

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Conference Place: The South San Francisco Conference Center
8:00 - 8:30 Registration and Breakfast (Juice, Tea, Coffee, and Bread)
8:40 - 9:00 Opening Announcement
Keynote Speakers
9:00 - 10:00 Detection of Foodborne Pathogens for Food Safety
Daniel Y.C. Fung -
Director of Rapid Methods and Automation
in Microbiology Workshop (KSU)
-Professor, Dept. Animal Science and Industries, Kansas State University
10:00 - 11:00 Current Foodborne Outbreak and Iegal Issues
William D. Marler, Esq. -
MarlerClark attorneys at Law

11:00 - 11:20 Coffee Break in Exhibitors' Section (Salon G,H,I,J)
11:20 - 12:20 - Industrial Actions for Food Safety and Quality
Stan Bailey, Microbiologist, bioMerieux (2008 IAFP President)
12:20 - 1:30 Lunch will be supported by conference organization
1:30 - 2:30 Food Safety and Quality Challenges of food products
Erdogan Ceylan - Director of Research. Silliker, Inc.
2:30 - 3:30: - Foodborne Outbreaks and Food Industries' Actions
Jenny Scott - IAFP President (2000-2001) - VP-FPA
3:30 - 3:50: Coffee Break in Exibitors' Section (Salon G,H,I,J)
3:50 - 5:00: Wine and Cheese Reception Visting Exhibitors' Sections
Sponsored by Bio-Rad (Wendy Lauer)
5:00: Adjourn

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Conference place: The South San Francisco Conference Center (Salon F-J)
8:00 - 9:00 Registration and Breakfast (Juice, Tea, Coffee, and Bread)
9:00 - 10:00: Special Presentation for Ethnic Food Safety
Daniel Y.C. Fung -Director of Rapid Methods and Automation
in Microbiology Workshop (KSU)
-Professor, Dept. Animal Science and Industries, Kansas State University
10:00 - 11:00:Extending food safety throughout the supply chain
Craig Henry - Senior VP. GMA/FPA
11:00 - 11:20 Coffee Break in Exhibitors' Section (Salon G,H,I,J)
11:20 - 12:20 Pathogenesis of E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and Listeria monocytogenes
Dong-Hyun Kang, - Associate Professor, Washington State University
Director of Detection Center, National Alliance Food Safety and Security
12:20 - 1:20 Lunch will be supported by Conference organization.
1:20 - 2:10 - Rapid detection methods for food safety and quality
Ken Davenport - Global Technical Services Product Specialist -3M
2:10 - 3:00 - The Changing Food Safety Landscape: Protecting Our Products and Consumers in a Global Society, Paul Hall, - IAFP President (2004-2005)
3:00 - 3:45 Major Spoilage bacteria in Fruit and vegetable juices- Alicyclobacillus,
SuSen Chang - Research Associate, Washington State University
3:45 - 4:00 Coffee Break in Exhibitors' Section (Salon G,H,I,J)
4:00 - 5:00 Panel Discussion: Food Industries' Actions for Food Safety and Quality.
Dicussion leader : Stan Bailey
5:00 Certificate and Adjourn
Click here to see conference program

FDA to look at mandatory traceability system
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Source of Article:
9/18/2008-On the heels of the end of worst foodborne outbreak in history, lawmakers are looking to a mandatory traceability system in the U.S. According to a Reuters report, lawmakers said a mandatory program was not only overdue, but needed to restore consumer confidence.
Many food processors and produce firms use traceability systems on a voluntary basis, but do so with no official performance standards.
"It is the system that is broken," said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, chair of the House Appropriations subcommittee on agriculture. "You still do not have mandatory traceability, mandatory performance standards. You are looking for a needle in a haystack."
DeLauro plans to introduce a new proposal that would create a separate safety agency within the Department of Health and Human Services to handle all food safety issues currently administered by FDA.
"We are going down a road of examining what is going to work," said David Acheson, the Food and Drug Administration's associate commissioner for food protection. He told the subcommittee a mandatory program "would have an impact."
Acheson said FDA does not believe it has explicit authority to mandate a tracking system, the Reuters article reports.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 76 million people in the U.S. get sick every year with foodborne illness and 5,000 die.

FDA issues draft guidance on genetically engineered animals
By Ann Bagel Storck on 9/18/2008
Source of Article:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday released for public comment draft guidance on the regulation of genetically engineered (GE) animals.
The guidance is intended to clarify FDA's regulatory authority in this area, as well as requirements and recommendations for producers of GE animals and products derived from GE animals. To read the FDA document, click here.
Genetic engineering generally refers to the use of recombinant DNA techniques to introduce new characteristics or traits into an organism. Under the draft guidance, in cases in which the GE animal is intended for food use, producers will have to demonstrate that food from the GE animal is safe to eat. FDA will review this information as part of its food safety assessment. Depending on the species of animal and its intended use, FDA will coordinate with agencies in the U.S. Department of Agriculture and with other federal departments and agencies in regulating GE animals.
The comment period for the draft guidance closes Nov. 18.

UK: Salmonella victim bride wins compensation payout
Sep 17 2008 By Alison Dayani, Health Correspondent
Source of Article:
A BIRMINGHAM woman whose honeymoon was ruined by salmonella at an idyllic resort is set to be awarded compensation.
Mum-of-three Jennifer Bulman, from Castle Bromwich, spent more time vomiting and suffering with diarrhoea during the two-week honeymoon in the Canary Islands than with her new husband, Ian.
First Choice Holidays and Flights has admitted liability and fully accepted that there were problems with the Club Coleta Dora, in Fuerteventura.
Mrs Bulman, aged 36, is still suffering health problems two years after being struck by the severe gastric illness.
She said the dream holiday with Ian, now aged 43, and three children, turned to disaster just a few days into the trip when she fell ill.
It was diagnosed as salmonella in hospital in the UK.
Mrs Bulman said: ¡°I was virtually confined to the hotel room for the remainder of our holiday and even when I ventured to the poolside I had to be sure I was not far from a toilet.¡°This was my honeymoon and yet I spent more time away from my husband than with him.¡±
Mrs Bulman has since developed rheumatological problems linked to the salmonella infection, which means she has difficulty doing routine daily chores without help.
Family solicitor Nicola Blackburn, from Irwin Mitchell, Birmingham, said:
¡°Mrs Bulman continues to suffer with ongoing gastric and rheumatological problems and has not been able to return to work since her honeymoon two years ago.
¡°First Choice Holidays & Flights has admitted liability and negotiations are currently underway to settle Mrs Bulman¡¯s claim.¡±
She added: ¡°Although we are pleased that the tour operator has fully accepted there were problems, this is yet another example of a fundamental failure to ensure basic health and hygiene procedures were correctly implemented by the hotel owner.
¡°Holidaymakers should be able to look forward to their annual trip abroad without the fear of returning with long-term health problems, as sadly happened in Mrs Bulman¡¯s case.¡±
First Choice were unavailable for comment.

Representative calls for FDA to be split in two

By Tom Karst
Source of Article:
(Sept. 18, 4:32 p.m.) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration should be divided between food safety and drug and device safety responsibilities, said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.
What¡¯s more, DeLauro said she will introduce legislation proposing to do just that by late September.
DeLauro, chairwoman of the House agriculture appropriations subcommittee, made the suggestion at a Sept. 17 hearing focused on the salmonella outbreak investigation.
During her remarks, DeLauro said she plans to introduce the Food Safety Modernization Act the week of Sept. 22, which will seek to establish the Food Safety Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services that would have responsibility for all food safety issues currently administered by the FDA.
¡°To be sure, our ultimate goal must remain an independent, single food agency, but I believe that in order to begin fixing our broken system, we must act now, and this is the best way forward,¡± she said in her opening statement at the food safety hearing.
A news release from DeLauro¡¯s office said other components of the legislation will address traceability, process controls

Scientists reveal how food-poisoning bug infects foetus
1 day ago Source of Article:
PARIS (AFP) ? Scientists in France on Wednesday said they had figured out how a germ that causes potentially lethal food poisoning can be transmitted from a mother to a foetus.
The discovery was made among lab animals but is likely to be valid for humans too, which opens up potential targets for drugs that could block the transmission pathway, they said.
The listeria germ causes flu-like symptoms and can lead to meningitis and convulsions if it invades the nervous system.
Unpasteurised dairy products, contaminated meats and unwashed raw vegetables are possible sources of the bacterium, which enters the blood system through the intestine.
For reasons not fully understood, pregnant women are 20 times likelier than other healthy adults to contract the disease, called listeriosis. It affects eight in a million people in the United States, and five per million in France.
Infection of a woman during pregnancy can cause miscarriage or stillbirth, and is often passed on to newborns, so scientists have sought to find out how the bacteria moves across the placenta.
A team led by Marc Lecuit of the Institut Pasteur in Paris identified two invasive proteins, called InlA and InlB, that are essential to the molecular mechanism that infects the foetus.
Lecuit found that, among lab animals, only gerbils shared the same duo of biochemical pathways as humans.
In experiments, pregnant gerbils were orally infected with listeria bacteria.
Fluorescent tracers in the bacteria showed that the disease reached and crossed the placenta.
The fatality rate amongst the pregnant gerbils was 100 percent, a result so extreme that the researchers decided to use other analytical tools, which did not involve killing animals, to corroborate the data.
"In a species in which both pathways are functional, both InlA and InlB are critical for placental invasion and foetal infection," the study concluded.
In a second set of experiments, mice were genetically modified to activate one of the two pathways that was naturally blocked, again producing the predicted results.
Lecuit cautioned that his findings would not result in "immediate applications."
"When we fully understand the mechanism of a disease, we can devise a way to block it," he said. "But for now, the best way to kill the bacteria is still antibiotics."
The study is published by the British-based science journal Nature.

Chinese Formula Maker Hid Toxic Danger for Weeks
Distributors Say They Weren't Told Reason for Recall
(Wall Street Journal ? China)
Chinese manufacturer and local-government officials declined for weeks to disclose the discovery that a popular baby formula contained a toxic chemical even while the maker was recalling the product, the company's foreign partner and some domestic distributors said Wednesday.According to one distributor for Shijiazhuang Sanlu Group Co., Yu Qingyang in the southern province of Guizhou, Sanlu said in early August that it was taking back the formula because it "planned to change the packaging." China's government says contamination of baby formula with melamine has killed three infants and sickened more than 6,244 since the first reports of sick children in March. The figures include 158 infants with acute kidney failure. Authorities said this week that tests in recent days found melamine in baby formula from 22 Chinese manufacturers, including some of the country's biggest dairy companies.A mother sits beside her 16-month-old child, hospitalized for possible kidney-stone development from consuming tainted milk formula at a hospital in Wuhan, China.Evidence is mounting that such contamination is more widespread in China's dairy industry, with unscrupulous suppliers adulterating ingredients as a way to mask protein-deficient or diluted milk. On Tuesday, a Hong Kong supermarket chain pulled a mainland Chinese brand of yogurt popsicles from its shelves, saying they had tested positive for melamine. The poisonous chemical, used to make plastics and fertilizer, also boosts the apparent presence of protein.
"It's not just a problem with Sanlu now. So many companies have been involved," said Sherry Meng, mother of a 5-year-old boy. "As a consumer and a mom, I feel really angry, and concerned. It makes it hard to believe in any dairy products produced by China."
Sanlu reported to its board on Aug. 2 , six days before the Olympic Games opened in Beijing, that its baby formula was tainted. But public announcement of a recall came only last week, and the delay is drawing increasingly angry criticism from Chinese parents and others. On Wednesday, Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd., a New Zealand dairy company that owns 43% of Sanlu, said the Chinese company told local health authorities in early August that Sanlu had discovered melamine in samples of its product.
Instead of warning consumers, Fonterra said, Sanlu and the local government in its headquarters city here in northern China decided to quietly remove the toxic formula from stores. "We encouraged Sanlu, we encouraged the authorities, to go public," said Andrew Ferrier, Fonterra's chief executive. "They made their own judgment."
Some critics in China have suggested on the Internet that a desire to avoid bad news around the Olympics may have prompted Sanlu to maintain its public silence. While there is no evidence of that, Chinese companies were under strict orders at the time not to be the source of bad news that could disrupt the Games, and Chinese reporters were told not to report negative news.
Sanlu executives have issued an apology but haven't responded to repeated requests for comment. Fonterra also has been fiercely criticized for not going public. Mr. Ferrier said that after some "soul searching," it initially decided not to make a public statement on its own. It only informed its own government a few weeks later.
China's central government said it became aware of the problem only last week. Authorities have since announced a well-publicized recall, arrested several suppliers and sacked several local officials, including the head of a local food-and-drug agency. On Wednesday they detained for questioning Sanlu's former chairwoman, who was fired this week.
Two of the companies whose products contained melamine have sold infant formula in Bangladesh, Burundi, Gabon, Myanmar and Yemen, according to the authorities. It isn't clear whether any of the exported formula was contaminated. Sanlu milk powder exported to Taiwan has been recalled there.
The magnitude of China's adulteration problem underscores the risks in the country's often-diffuse and poorly regulated supply chains for foods, pharmaceuticals and other products. China has struggled to tighten oversight after a series of high-profile safety lapses -- including pet food contaminated with melamine and toothpaste tainted with a chemical used in antifreeze. Adulterated supplies of the anticlotting drug heparin from China were linked this year to more than 80 deaths in the U.S.Many companies doing business in China strictly supervise suppliers to ensure their materials are safe. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s Mead Johnson baby-formula unit said it imports all the milk it uses to manufacture formula at its plant in southern China because it considers the local supply chain too unsafe to use. Groupe Danone SA's International Nutrition Co. unit also says it uses only imported milk for the baby formula it makes in China. Nestle SA said it buys milk from local farmers who are supervised daily by its own agricultural officers.
Sanlu buys milk from many sources, including milk traders who buy raw milk from small farmers and mix it together before reselling it. Police have arrested three milk dealers, including two brothers who live in Sanlu's hometown. The pair began putting melamine in their milk last year to pass Sanlu's quality tests, according to China's official news agency, citing a police spokesman.
Agriculture experts say the way Chinese dairy farmers raise cows can result in protein-deficient milk. Some government officials also have surmised that dealers have been diluting their milk to maximize profits and using melamine to mask their actions.
Milk production has grown rapidly as farmers in recent years rushed to raise dairy cows, outstripping demand. As a result, many dairy farmers are struggling. Fu Guofang, a 48-year-old dairy farmer in Zhejiang province, said he sold about half his herd last year when milk prices dipped. "It is true milk farmers add water to raw milk when the purchasing price is too low," said Mr. Fu. But he said he doesn't think farmers know enough to add chemicals to the milk.
Sanlu began investigating reports of illnesses among children drinking its formula as early as March, according to Fonterra. Fonterra's CEO, Mr. Ferrier, said repeated lab tests over the following months failed to find any problems. Meanwhile, Sanlu donated baby formula to victims of the Sichuan earthquake in May.
Shortly before a Sanlu board meeting Aug. 2, the company discovered melamine in the formula, and promptly informed its directors including three Fonterra representatives, Mr. Ferrier said. He said Fonterra urged an immediate public recall.
But local authorities said they "were not in a position" to make a public announcement, Mr. Ferrier said. "They were very clear about how they wanted to proceed."
When weeks went by with no public comment from the Chinese authorities, Fonterra reported the situation to the New Zealand government. New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark was informed, and she ordered her ambassador in Beijing to notify authorities there. The ambassador did so Sept. 9, said Ms. Clark's spokeswoman.
China's central government said it was informed of the problem by provincial authorities Sept. 8 and quickly responded. 9-18-08

LIVE FROM E. COLI SUMMIT: processors urged to question new FSA format
By Tom Johnston on 9/17/2008
Source of Article:
CHICAGO Meat processors should familiarize themselves with the Food Safety and Inspection Service's new methodology of conducting food safety assessments (FSAs) and the potential problems they will present to the industry.
That was the message from Kerri Harris, president of the International HACCP Alliance, as she addressed more than 150 attendees at a meat industry conference focused on preventing E. coli O157:H7.
The conference is jointly sponsored by the North American Meat Processors Association (NAMP), American Meat Institute (AMI), National Meat Association (NMA), and American Association of Meat Processors (AAMP).
Harris credited FSIS for trying to achieve more consistency in FSAs and continuing to review the new methodology. (See FSIS launching new method of food safety assessments on, August 25, 2008.) However, she criticized using what she characterized as very broad "yes or no" questions that do not relate to food safety programs and regulatory requirements and leave too much to the interpretation of the Enforcement, Investigations, and Analysis Officer (EIAOs) conducting the audits.
Harris pointed to several questions as examples, including "Is the equipment free of cracks, pitting, rust or other defects that could affect cleaning and sanitizing procedures?"
"That depends on the eye of the beholder, how well my contacts are working that day and how hard I want to look," she said.

Another question asks, "Are there any findings during the course of the FSA that raise a concern as to whether the sanitation system is adequate to meet the sanitation performance standard requirements (e.g. ventilation, condensation, structural integrity)?"
Harris used this question to point out that while FSIS inspectors are in the plants daily tracking such information, EIAOs conducting the new FSAs may come up with findings that conflict with the those of the daily inspectors. The new methodology introduces an unnecessary layer of regulation on establishments, NMA Director Emeritus Rosemary Mucklow told "There needs to be accountability for the assigned (daily) inspectors, not some new layer on top of these establishments."

FDA Pushes Food Industry To Clarify Allergen Labels
By Alice Turner 20:18, September 16th 2008
Source of Article:
The Food and Drug Administration has stepped up to finally force food makers to use a standard label system for allergens. Currently, food companies are required by the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA) to place labels on packaged foods containing most common food allergens, such as milk, eggs, fish, Crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts and soybeans, or any other ingredient that contains protein derived from one of these foods or food groups.
However, there is no clear indication on the actual labels. Also, there is a possibly very hard to overcome issue which stems from the fact that food plants pack many types of food on the same machines. This means that traces of allergens could find their way even in stuff that doesn't use allergen ingredients. Again, there is no clear indication on the safe level of allergens in terms of parts per million or some other standard measure.
The awkward labeling system leads to allergic people eating food which says it may contain allergens, because almost all packed food now has one of these labels. Companies, seeking to avoid possible lawsuits, are making sure they place one of these labels so they stay clear of legal trouble, even when there might not be a real risk of contamination.
This is, for allergic people, like selling food which says: May contain E. coli or other harmful bacteria. The FDA wants companies to toss the "may" factor and state clearly that the food product either does contain allergens or does not.
The Food and Drug Administration has scheduled a public hearing today, Tuesday, in order to develop a new labeling system which will provide better information to allergic consumers. The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network claims that more than 12 million Americans are currently living with food allergies, and there are around 30,000 emergency room visits every year triggered by allergic reactions.
It is thought that six to eight percent of children under the age of three have food allergies and nearly four percent of adults. Allergens may induce anaphylaxis and eventually anaphylactic shock, which is a severe systemic reaction that may lead to death.

Way to protect babies from Listeria found
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor
Last Updated: 7:01pm BST 17/09/2008
Source of Article:
The death of around two dozen babies each year in the UK could be prevented as a result of the discovery of how a disease-causing bacterium crosses the placenta from mother to unborn child. Infection with Listeria monocytogenes in healthy adults causes a mild flu like illness however, the infection can result in meningitis or blood poisoning in new born babies. According to the Health Protection Agency, last year alone there were 28 infected babies of which 23 died, mostly as a result of miscarriage and still birth. The babies that survive often suffer severe damage. Now, thanks to studies of gerbils and mice, Prof Marc Lecuit and Prof Pascale Cossart of the Pasteur Institute, Paris, and colleagues have discovered how the bacterium manages to move from mother to unborn child. The infection begins with ingestion of food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, which can then cross the intestinal barrier and reach the bloodstream. The bacterium is then able to cross the barrier between the blood vessels of the brain (blood-brain barrier) or cross the placenta to disseminate to the fetus in pregnant women. They report in the journal Nature that two bacterial invasion proteins, InlA and InlB, are required for the bacterium to target and cross the placental barrier, marking the first time that this has been revealed.
"It helps understand why some Listeria strains (those that express a functional InlA), but not others (that express a truncated version of InlA) lead to placental infection," says Prof Lecuit. Understanding how the microbe is able to cross the host's natural barrier, latching on to two specific molecules in the placenta (E Cadherin and Met) could help in the development of inhibitory molecules for use as drugs.
The idea would be that the drugs would prevent the bacterium from latching on to the placenta, explains Prof Lecuit. "It is too early to tell when inhibitory molecules could be tested in patients, and the molecule that would be tested first. The idea would be to use a compound able to inhibit InlA-E Cad and/or InlB-Met interactions."
Widespread in nature (water, soil, plants, animals) the bacterium can contaminate many foods: raw vegetables and ready-to-eat foods, such as prepacked sandwiches, pate, butter, soft mould-ripened cheeses, cooked sliced meats and smoked salmon.
As well as pregnant women, the elderly and immunocompromised - such as Aids, blood cancer or organ transplant patients - are also at risk.
Among them listeriosis is responsible for septicemia, meningitis and encephalitis. Antibiotics are in most cases effective but the infection is nevertheless still lethal in 20 to 30 per cent of infected individuals. In healthy adults, symptoms are generally less severe and can result in a simple gastroenteritis.

Irradiation Only Part of Food Safety Solution
09/17/2008 Source of Article:
MONTEREY, Calif.¦¡Irradiation is part of the food safety solution, but not the only one, food safety experts determined September 11 at the Fresh Express Fresh Produce Safety Research Conference. Irradiation could be the ¡°silver bullet¡± of food safety, Michael Osterholm, director for the Center of Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota and advisor for Fresh Express. He said, however, not enough has been done to understand irradiation. Jeff Farrar, branch chief, Food and Drug Branch of the California Department of Public Health argued, ¡°even if irradiation did work as hoped, consumers wouldn¡¯t accept it and doubts consumers would pay a premium for irradiated produce,¡± reported.

The romance of raw milk
(Kansas City Star, MO)
Sarah Burnett and her family don¡¯t just believe in raw milk. They make a good part of their livelihood selling it.
At Heritage Farms near Cameron, Mo., their herd of mostly Jersey and Jersey-cross cows grazes pasture that has been in the family four generations. The family milks the cows, filters and chills the milk and delivers it to customers in Missouri.
¡°We tell people, ¡®We take it out of the cow, filter it and it¡¯s yours,¡¯¡± Burnett says.
That¡¯s what worries regulators, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The Burnetts are among several hundred small American dairy farmers producing raw, or unpasteurized, goat and cow milk ? and more consumers are clamoring to buy it.
Proponents say raw milk is an essential and delicious part of a healthy diet. Critics say drinking it is downright dangerous and sales should be banned. The debate is surprisingly vitriolic, given that even the most optimistic estimates put the number of raw milk drinkers at 500,000 nationwide.
Sixteen states ban raw milk sales, according to the Weston A. Price Foundation, a nonprofit organization that maintains a list of raw milk suppliers and supports a legal defense fund for farmers. In some other states, raw milk can be purchased only as animal feed, as part of a cow share program or with a doctor¡¯s prescription.
Regulatory, legislative and legal pressure elsewhere left several Kansas City-area raw milk producers too nervous to be interviewed for this article, and few customers were willing to divulge their sources.
So, let¡¯s be clear: It is legal to produce and sell raw milk in Kansas and Missouri with some restrictions. Kansas consumers must buy it at the farm, and dairies can advertise only with an on-farm sign. Missouri dairies can sell raw milk on the farm or deliver it to customers. Retail sales at farmers markets or other outlets are not allowed in either state. It¡¯s also illegal to sell raw milk across state lines.
At issue is a single process: pasteurization. Developed in the 1860s by Louis Pasteur, pasteurization uses heat to kill bacteria and other pathogens. It was adopted by the U.S. dairy industry in the early 20th century, which is either a good or bad thing, depending on your viewpoint.
Raw milk advocates admit poor animal nutrition and dirty production methods did aid the spread of disease in bygone days. Pasteurization helped solve the problem, but today¡¯s stainless steel equipment, milking machines, refrigeration and other advances make it unnecessary now, says Sally Fallon-Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation.
¡°We have the technology today to get clean raw milk to everybody in every corner of the nation,¡± Fallon-Morell says.
Twice a day Pamela Nee, who farms near Gardner in Johnson County, opens the gate to her goats¡¯ pen, and five LaMancha and Nubian females take turns trotting into the open-air milk shed. They scramble onto knee-high stands and munch grain as Nee brushes their coats, washes their udders and her hands and aims the first squirts into a cup to check for injuries or illness that could affect the milk.
She efficiently empties udders into a stainless steel, filtered bucket and then transfers the milk to a stainless steel milk can. It goes into a nearby freezer so it will chill quickly. The evening¡¯s milk will be added later; then Nee might turn it into cheese, butter or yogurt, or simply drink it.
¡°I believe raw milk is safe if it comes from healthy animals and is handled correctly,¡± says Nee, who also teaches cheese-making workshops.
Raw milk is said to be rich in vitamins and minerals, beneficial enzymes and bacteria and other heat-sensitive components that can do everything from aid digestion and boost immunity to fight arthritis, heart disease and other ailments.
For Greg Tamblyn, a Kansas City-based motivational humorist and musician, raw milk is essential for keeping his sinuses, throat and singing voice free of congestion.
¡°If I eat pasteurized milk, cheese or yogurt, it¡¯s just hard on my vocal cords,¡± says Tamblyn, who began drinking raw milk in 1975.
Danny Veerkamp of Lawrence grew up drinking raw milk and was thrilled to recently discover a local source. ¡°It¡¯s so much better, so much different,¡± says Veerkamp, who also makes yogurt and butter with raw milk.
The National Dairy Council¡¯s Web site says it¡¯s a myth to say raw milk is healthier than pasteurized milk. Such misconceptions, it says, ¡°stem in part from failure to understand modern conventional dairy farming practices and the health importance of milk pasteurization.¡±
As far as the FDA and other food safety watchdogs are concerned, the risk of food-borne illness simply outweighs any potential benefits. ¡°Raw milk should not be consumed by anyone at any time for any reason,¡± says John Sheehan, the director of the FDA¡¯s division of plant and dairy food safety.
According to the FDA, pasteurization kills dangerous bacteria like escherichia coli, campylobacter, listeria and salmonella. These bugs can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, headache, vomiting and exhaustion ? misery for anyone, but a serious health threat for children, pregnant women, elderly people or others with a weakened immune system.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Kansas and Missouri state agriculture and health departments echo the FDA¡¯s position. Why is their view so unequivocal Because raw milk and products made from it can make people sick.
The CDC identified 45 outbreaks of food-borne illness linked to unpasteurized milk or cheese made with unpasteurized milk between 1998 and May 2005, the most recent period for which figures are available. A total of 1,007 people became ill, 104 were hospitalized and two died, the CDC says.
In December the Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported two outbreaks of campylobacteriosis that sickened 87 people in the state. One was linked to cheese made with raw milk, the other to liquid raw milk.
And, while raw milk is a small slice of the dairy market, it was associated with 30 percent of dairy-related outbreaks between 1990 and 2005, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington, D.C.-based health and nutrition advocacy group.
¡°There is no way any producer of raw milk can guarantee the milk they produce is consistently free of pathogens,¡± Sheehan says.
Still, raw milk fans argue the risks are minimal when compared to recent outbreaks caused by ground beef, spinach and jalapeno peppers. Food-borne illness from all sources sickens an estimated 76 million people a year, landing 300,000 in the hospital and killing 5,000, according to the CDC.
¡°The only way you are 100 percent guaranteed not to get sick from food is not to eat and to starve to death,¡± Fallon-Morell says.
All that makes buying raw milk a transaction of extreme trust. Advocates encourage others to ask plenty of questions, visit farms and get to know producers to ensure milk is handled safely.For Burnett, milk safety starts with the cows. Theirs is an intense pasture-rotation system, where cows are moved daily to fresh grass. They feed stockpiled forage during the winter, but cows don¡¯t get any grain.Calves stay with their mothers longer, so the cows don¡¯t need to be milked as frequently. These choices keep the herd healthier and reduce the risk of dangerous bacteria in the milk, Burnett says.The Burnetts milk once a day, four days a week, starting in April. Production peaks at one gallon of milk per cow per day and then tapers off until the cows dry up in November. At a more typical dairy operation, cows are milked twice daily and produce around 6 gallons a day.The farm is truly a family one. Burnett¡¯s great-grandfather moved there from Kentucky in 1915. Her father, Duane, farmed 160 acres of the original land with his father until the elder Burnett¡¯s death in 1997. He now runs the operation with Sarah and her siblings, Hannah and Matthew.
The family also produces free-range eggs, pasture-raised poultry and natural pork using organic methods. Marketing, deliveries and family time round out their week. It¡¯s a change from the more labor-intensive, conventional approach Sarah Burnett grew up with.
¡°We¡¯ve milked year-round, and we¡¯ve bottle-fed calves. We¡¯ve dealt with chapped teats, frozen teats all those issues,¡± she says. ¡°We don¡¯t want to fight that hard.¡±
On milking days the cows are cleaned off outside the barn. Once they are moved inside, the cows¡¯ udders are washed with soap and water. The Burnetts use a portable milker and then take the milk into the house to be filtered, chilled in an ice-water bath and refrigerated at 37 degrees.
Milk is portioned into gallon, half-gallon and quart glass jars and kept on ice while Burnett makes deliveries, including a stop to meet customers at Badseed Market in downtown Kansas City. Like most raw milk, theirs is not homogenized, 1/2 cups of cream to rise to the top of every gallon.?allowing about 1 (Homogenization uses high pressure to evenly distribute fat globules throughout the milk.)
Burnett also builds trust with customers through e-mail and plenty of ¡°face time¡± at the Liberty Farmers Market, where her family sells products other than raw milk. They also held their first farm tour in August.
¡°We¡¯re honest and open with our customers,¡± she says.
Most fans of raw milk find their source by word of mouth, although the Weston A. Price Foundation does maintain a list of raw milk dairies on its Web site (
Raw cow¡¯s milk generally costs about $8 a gallon; goat milk is about $12 a gallon. Careful handling is essential. Sarah Burnett of Heritage Farms near Cameron, Mo., urges customers to transport milk in an ice-filled cooler and handle it carefully.
¡°We tell customers to use smart sanitation,¡± Burnett says. ¡°Wash their hands, and keep the milk really cold.¡±
Raw milk doesn¡¯t come with a ¡°use by¡± date like pasteurized milk, but it will generally keep about two weeks when handled properly, producers say. 9-17-08___________

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