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Raw Milk And Produce Do Consumers Desire Some Level Of Risk?

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, July 11, 2007

Our piece entitled, Risk And Raw Milk, dealt with the general issue of risk and the degree to which consumers ought to be able to accept risk in the food supply. It brought a response that shows both the astonishing diversity of produce people and different perspectives on what is risky:

Raw milk is the greatest tasting milk in the world provided it comes from cows that graze fresh green clean grass pastures with limited protein supplements preferably from Jersey or Short Horn breeds.

This is real “whole food” in its truest most natural form.

Yes, I agree there is a very, very slight chance that you could contract Tuberculosis (TB) or Brucellosis. Just read the health warning on the label from raw milk producers. The raw milk I know of on sale in California is produced in Fresno and is now on sale in the Berkeley Bowl and other places in California, produced by www.organicpastures.com .

Probably my biggest health concern about this milk, as with all dairy products, is too much is bad for one’s cholesterol levels. Raw milk will stay fresh for about 7 to 8 days under refrigeration at 4 Celsius.

Pasteurization of milk (heated to 170F for 19 seconds), “not homogenized,” is about as close to fresh raw milk as most people will ever get. I recommend you try Organic Cream Top Milk from Strauss in a glass bottle or in Trader Joe’s Organic Cream Top label. Truly a great product from cows that get to graze green pastures and live a normal existence.

The down side to this milk is the pasteurization process does reduce some essential enzyme and nutrient values, but at least you know the food safety issue are zipped tight.

Pasteurized milk stays fresh about 14 to 16 days under refrigeration at 4 Celsius.

Ultra-pasteurization of milk around 1-2 seconds, at a temperature exceeding 275 degrees: On the other end of the Un-Raw milk scene, you can drink ultra heat treated milk/ultra-pasteurized from a brick carton & homogenized that can stay fresh for many months without refrigeration.

This is the milk the average American pulls from the refrigerator in the supermarket, actually this “Fresh Milk” you are buying does not need refrigeration because of the (UHT or Ultra Pasteurization) process and the High-tech carton it is wrapped in is Aseptic. Though the dairy industry does not advertise this fact as it may actually send out the wrong message to the already confused consumer. The dairy wants you to think it is fresh.

This product is great when you need milk on the corn flakes when you are stuck in a desert for two months or are navigating around the world on a small sail boat with no sight of land for 3 months or great as a protein supplement for the starving masses in the third world when a food shortage occurs.

This product is a far cry from what Fresh Milk is. Though because of its great shelf life, this milk can be stored and shipped for long periods at the convenience of the dairy producers. UHT/Ultra-pasteurized milk should be shelved along in the markets with tinned fruit and canned tomatoes and the dairy companies should fess up to the public that this is a product far inferior than what was originally extracted from cow down on the farm.

This in turn would leave the supermarket refrigerators plenty of space for the Fresh milk that really needs to keep cool. This milk is probably safer than regular pasteurized I am guessing, and I am sure plenty of people will correct me but it is not fresh milk.

Ultra-pasteurization of milk packed aseptically will stay (Fresh?) 6 months-plus. Most of this milk is produced from mass dairy lots. Produced from cows that are jacked up on Posilac /rbST and force-fed very high levels of Proteins. Now I recommend no one drinks milk from this kind of farm, and if you do happen to drink it make sure it is not RAW.

This type of milk production is about as sick as it gets. Cows on Posilac produce about 15 % more milk than cows that are not, but have about 25% less length of life than cows not on Posilac.

This type of milk production is all about the profit of the big dairy companies and nothing about the well being of the animals they profit from and nothing to do with the consumer. As long as it looks like milk and does not make the consumer sick in the short term, then it’s ok. This is not also to mention the excessive amounts of probiotics and antibiotics that are used in the average American dairy herd today .

Cows are way over stocked and intensified, therefore producing a much higher need for disease control. The reverse assumption can be applied to less intensified farms.

— Duncan McNiff — Owner
Bayfresh Produce Co
San Francisco, CA

Duncan got his training and qualifications as a dairy, beef, sheep and grassland farm manager in Ireland in 1990, so he knows a thing or two about dairies and milk production. We have heard from Duncan before here and appreciate his insight into a world most produce people know little about.

The question regarding pasteurization and homogenization on milk is, though, whether it is in one sense the same question we are confronting on produce.

Is there such a thing as an acceptable level of foodborne illness outbreak? Or is zero the only acceptable level?

If, for example, we found that only by irradiation could we get outbreak levels to zero — as we dealt with here — would that be a good reason for the FDA to make irradiation mandatory?

Or do consumers have some rights to say they prefer some risks to others? Even if they can’t prove the merit of their case scientifically?

Many thanks to Duncan for his strong, and experienced, opinion.

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