In Official Reports, You’d Never Know It Was Pasteurized Dairy Making People Sick

It seems that almost any outbreak of illnesses potentially involving raw milk products prompts handwringing by the media, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), not to mention state and local public health agencies. I have yet to see a mainstream media article about raw dairy that doesn’t include warnings from federal or local public health officials about its dangers. 


Yet when people get sick from pasteurized dairy products, it’s a whole different ball game. We saw that in the article discussed following my previous post, about illnesses from bad milk among children at a Henrico County school in Virginia. There wasn’t even a mention that the milk was pasteurized. And can you imagine any media reporting on illnesses from raw milk, that the victims “exhibited ‘mild gastrointestinal symptoms’ that passed quickly”? Certainly if I said it, I’d be excoriated by raw milk opponents as totally insensitive and biased, especially since it was children who were sickened. 


This minor example of the reporting double standard turns up repeatedly. I just examined official government reports  (one from CDC and the other from FDA) on two of the most recent pasteurized-dairy outbreaks, involving cheese, one from a Wisconsin producer and the other from a Delaware producer. Here are a few things I noticed:


-The reports never mention pasteurized milk. It’s just cheese that got the people sick. At the end of one of the reports, it mentions potential problems in the production facilities that could have led to the contamination. 


-The illnesses, all from listeria monocytogenes, were very serious. In the case of the Wisconsin illnesses from Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, each of the six people sickened was hospitalized, and one of them died. In the case of the Delaware cheese illnesses, from Roos Foods, seven of the eight people made ill were hospitalized, and one died. Gee, two deaths in two pasteurized dairy outbreaks within the last year, and very little fuss.  And outbreaks in which more than 90 per cent of those made ill wind up in the hospital is highly unusual. 


-They downplay illnesses involving children.  The description of the Roos Foods outbreak from the FDA is particularly interesting in its wordsmithing. The reality is that three infants became very sick, but here is how the FDA describes the eight illnesses: "Five of the illnesses were related to a pregnancy; two of these were diagnosed in two mother–newborn pairs, and one in only the newborn. The three other illnesses occurred among adults.  One death was reported in California.” So two illnesses in newborns are air-brushed as occurring in “mother-newborn pairs.” And how old was the individual who died? No word on that, so I suppose you have to use your imagination; my guess is that if it had been an adult, FDA would have said so. 


One other thing: there’s no mention at all that illnesses from listeria in raw-milk cheese are quite rare. And there hasn’t been a listeria illness from fluid raw milk in at least a decade. 


And can you imagine if there had been two deaths from raw dairy products within the last year? Why, you’d never hear the end of it. 


Now, Real Raw Milk Facts, the anti-raw-milk web site, to its credit, breaks out illnesses and deaths from pasteurized dairy products. As you can see, the Crave Brothers and Roos Foods outbreaks have pushed pasteurized cheese illnesses since 1998 to over 600, and total pasteurized dairy deaths to ten. Not exactly the safety guarantee we have been led to expect. 

All goes to show that you have to read the media and government reports on raw and pasteurized dairy much differently. I think it’s called a double standard. 

Sylvia Gibson's picture


FYI, I believe the school children made ill from the pasteurized milk are in the Richmond, Virginia area, from Marva Maid dairy.

I had not heard that there were recent deaths. Guess they buried those pun intended.

David Gumpert's picture

Yes, you are right, it is Virginia. I saw Newport and Richmond and somehow California registered. I corrected it. 

Sylvia Gibson's picture

Well there is a Newport Beach and a Richmond in California. Sometimes when I'm researching, or just plain reading stuff, my head can spin from so much information.

mark mcafee's picture

A UC Davis veterinarian that has become supportive of RAWMI said this: listeria is not associated with fluid raw milk...listeria is associated with processing and heating of milk and other processed dairy products. Wow. This from someone who really knows the science and political me. The CDC data backs this up 100%. No listeria illness with raw milk...but tons of listeria illness with pasteurized dairy products and plenty of deaths!!

They know is painful to see politics taint science and then wash over the truth in the media. Is it my imagination or is their some big wizard of oz screen behind which some coordinated media effort play some grand role to align the story. Every dairy illness media story uses the same language and artful avoidance of the same terms. How can this be??

David Gumpert's picture

Despite the absence of illness from listeria in raw milk, farms continue to be shut when any evidence of listeria found in milk. Partly a function of FDA's refusal to accept European standards that allow small amounts of listeria, which aren't present in sufficient quantities to cause illness. 

Much of this mindset comes because "official" documents continue to inform everyone that pasteurization kills all pathogens and is "the only way"
Following on from a recent UK discussion document about raw milk availability, New Zealand have just launched their latest discussion document looking at streamlining laws while maintaining safety.
You might like to see how CDC data is used on pages 14 & 18 of the main document. Besides the main document there are 2 other documents, Effects of Pasteurization on Claimed health benefits..., and Assessment of Microbial Risks.... that use international data to draw conclusions.

David Gumpert's picture

Jeneyraytions, thanks for this link. I would encourage readers here to take the survey on raw milk that New Zealand authorities have put together (link on first page of the document linked to above), to help guide them in changing their policies. It is a well constructed and thorough study--takes about 10 minutes to complete. 

Shelly-D.'s picture

NZ complains that raw milk is never safe -- they should bring Mark down there to give a talk!

David Gumpert's picture

The NZ regulators are very critical of raw milk, but they make one comment that, hesitant as it is, would never be tolerated by the FDA or CDC: 

"There are a few studies that suggest that drinking raw milk at an early age, along with other factors, may help reduce the risk of developing asthma, hay fever, or eczema but the science is not conclusive because of a lack of data and the absence of any biological reason for why raw milk could help protect against these conditions."

Now, that last statement about "the absence of any biological reason" is inaccurate; the GABRIELA study out of Europe speculates that a whey protein provides the protection in raw milk. Still, for food regulators, this is a forward statement. 

Sylvia Gibson's picture

Jeneraytions post made me review the Parsifal study.
As said in another post, words can be twisted to suit the agenda.

Protection from asthma and allergy is strongest when exposure occurs in utero or early in life, but the protective effects can persist into adulthood. Just three exposures (contact with cows and straw and consumption of unprocessed cow's milk) account for virtually all the protective farm effect for asthma but not atopy. Whey proteins appear to be critical for the protective effects of farm milk, whereas the high microbial diversity existing in a farm environment is strongly and inversely associated with asthma, but only weakly associated with atopy. "

If you listen to these people who are supposed to be highly educated, we shouldn't be eating anything as we may be poisoning our families.

"Dr. Jatinder Bhatia, MD, FAAP, co-author of AAP’s policy statement. “If you want to drink it, it’s a personal choice, that’s not for me to question. But if you get sick from raw milk, if you get E. coli for example, you then have the potential to give it to your children and husband ... it’s not only you, it’s those around you as well. If you’re pregnant and you do this, you put your fetus at risk.”

Thanks once again, David, for your continued vigilance in reporting on pasteurized and raw dairy illnesses. It's terrible when anyone becomes sick from any food, and it's tragic when someone dies or is severely disabled as a result. My heart goes out to those poor families.

And also once again, the double standard of the bureaucratic response to pasteurized dairy outbreaks leaves a really bad taste in my mouth.

mfpellicano's picture

Sylvia, so it's the 'cootie' effect? Those of us who do spend time on a farm around cows, straw, the inevitable exposure to cow poop, chickens, horses, pigs, ect., are microbial rich and potential carriers of pathogenic microbiota and those who don't are sterile and, therefore, more likely to become sick if exposed to us? Is this now the "great divide" in our society? Well, if so, I choose to 'live close to the animals' rather than live in sterility! I live in the city...but volunteer time on the farm...will tptb decide that I can't do that in the future because I "expose" my poor "sterile" neighbors to "potential sickness?" Just ask'in! Jesus, Mary and Joseph, pray for us, pray for us ALL!

D. Smith's picture

@ mf: what people are a lot more likely to become sick and die from is the current food system in america, which is part and parcel to why the fda and the usda allow the "sick foods" onto the market.

It also has to do with selling those little pills which our brainwashed society truly believes will keep us healthier than eating real foods and exposing ourselves to the world the way it was for thousands of years think Holy Shit) before all those little pills were the brainchild of the corporate world in whose grip we now find ourselves, with little hope of extricating ourselves. This is why I've repeatedly asked why in the world we allow one agency to control both food AND drugs.

Real life happens upstream of the legalisms we have to put up with today.

Sylvia Gibson's picture

mf, I believe you are correct, cooties will make us stronger, at least build the immune system. I can remember pulling up a carrot from the ground, brushing off the dirt and eating it. I was too busy play to go inside and wash it. Dad has always used manure of some kind (he thinks the chicken poop was the best)

I don't recall any of us having colds, allergies yes, tonsillitis yes, injuries yes. I had the flu once in my life, cut school with my friend to watch 'The Exorcist', I don't recall being sick for a long time, I know I have never missed more than 3 days in a row of school, so I couldn't have been very sick. We all were vaccinated. My siblings got mumps and we all had been vaccinated for it. We've never had the flu shot. Yup, I'll take the cooties any day.

It's hard to say what tptb will do. Keep in mind that some of those people who get vaccinated DO shed potential active cells that can lead to others contracting the disease.

mark mcafee's picture

I was down in Australia in 2006 as a guest speaker at the international Slow Foods conference. During that visit I met with Dr. Ron Hull PhD and representatives of the joint NZ-Australian food safety agency. The one thing I can say about this that there is even a dialogue!! In the USA, the FDA refuses to hold any type of discussion or dialogue at any level about raw milk or its safe production practices. In addition to this utter disregard, the FDA has steadfastly refused to review 500 pages of data from RAWMI and other programs that have shown raw milk to be a very safe and low risk food. This data is included in my Citizens Petition that sits at the FDA. When research, data, scientific studies and medical evidence is ignored, it is very disheartening. This persistent resistance to any dialogue is telling of the deeper agenda inside the Food Inc DNA of the FDA. I applaud those government agencies "down under" that at least have opened a dialogue. This signals to the pro raw milk groups that the proof of raw milk safety is in their court!! It is educational game-on time. I might add, that pro raw milk groups in New Zealand have been in contact with RAWMI in their attempt to frame arguments. Down Under just as in the USA, standards and production systems for low ridk raw milk are not common and official data that comes from solid systems is unpublished, is uncollected and or does not exist. Perhaps one of the most important goals of RAWMI is to establish and publish this set of practices, standards and publish the PhD assessment of his flow of very compelling data.

I consider this official dialogue to be very good news. It strongly foretells of change and increased consumer demand. It is also interesting to see the same types of language and comments being used in New Zealand as in the FDA. It is as if they all attend the same summer camp. At least NZ is open to speaking of raw milk at all. Our dear FDA can not bring themselves to even mention the words raw milk. It is sad to see our CDC and NIH follow suit and march in lock step behind the FDA, and have even participated in collusion with regards to manipulation or mistatement of data when it suits their cause. I know...I got the data via FOIA and the facts are different than the story they tell via the media.

This all said....if progress can be made Down Under...just as one states policy change can effect a sister states policy positions...the USA can certainly be influenced by dialogue, change and transitions internationally. Australia and NZ share much with the USA on dairy policy.

His is great news even if the news is still grounded in old dogma, denial, suppression and refusal of EU studies. Step by step....we shall over come in this nutritional rights revolution.

I can not wait to see the peer reviewed articles that will publish RAWMI data. Time, hard work, perseverance and patience. We need a track record of raw milk excellence!!! It is being created right now!!

D. Smith's picture

Angles. It's all about angles. It's about who sees what from which angle.