Raw deal from raw, unpasteurized milk
Posted: May 20th, 2007 - 10:48pm by Brae SurgeonerEvery week in the U.S. there is a report of unpasteurized milk testing positive for listeria or salmonella or E. coli or campylobacter (see Contamination shows up in dairy, Capital Press, May 18/07); every month there is a report of people, largely children, sickened after consuming unpasteurized milk in the misguided belief that all things natural are good.
For example, in September, two children who drank raw milk from a Whatcom County dairy in Washington State became ill with E. coli O157:H7. At the same time, four children, including two 8-year-olds in San Diego County, Calif., were hospitalized with E. coli infection after consuming raw milk products.
In December 2005, 18 people in Washington and Oregon, including six children, were infected with E. coli O157:H7 after drinking unlicensed raw milk. Two of the kids almost died.
In April 2005, four cases of E. coli linked to unpasteurized milk were reported to Ontario, Canada health officials -- in this case, from an individual who routinely sold raw milk from the back of a vehicle parked in a city north of Toronto (see raw milk outbreak listings).
Unpasteurized milk is legal to sell in 28 U.S. states, in part due to the lobbying efforts of Sally Fallon and the Weston A. Price Foundation (see Advocate of fatty foods puts dietitians in a stew, Sydney Morning Herald, May. 20/07).
Fallon and her supporters claim that it is foods other than raw milk which are responsible for the hundreds of illnesses linked to raw milk.
Such claims are nonsensical and endanger public health.
Fallon and her disciples also claim that consumers should be free to choose.
Choice is good. But as the 19th-century English utilitarian philosopher, John Stuart Mill, noted, 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.
Science can be used to enhance what nature provided. Further, 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.
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.