A Florida woman who runs an organization called Miami Real Food has petitioned Whole Foods, one of the nation’s largest organic grocers, to continue selling raw milk. See the entire petition here. The petition states, in part,
[R]aw milk from grass-fed cows is infinitely healthier than those that are kept in confinement dairies. Times have changed and modern stainless steel tanks, milking machines, refrigerated trucks and inspection methods make pasteurization absolutely unnecessary for public protection.
Our firm’s thoughts on the sale and consumption of raw milk have been stated loudly and clearly for years. If you haven’t read the first two parts of Bill Marler’s recent four part series on the safety of pasteurized milk versus raw (unpasteurized) milk, please do so. See Part I, and Part II. The reality , and the reason why so many states have made the sale of raw milk illegal, is that there really is no way to produce the product safely.
Think about where milk comes from, and the proximity of that anatomical area to where E. coli O157:H7 and other pathogens in a cows digestive tract comes from. And aside from this admittedly simplistic analysis, occasionally some of these harmful bacteria cause mastitis (infection and inflammation of the udder), and may be shed directly into the milk. Moreover, milk is not always drawn from a cow or other animal in a sterile environment–particularly in the case of raw milk, which is often produced and sold by small-scale, oftentimes unlicensed farmers, who simply do not have the resources to ensure that their product is being produced in a sterile, safe environment.
My point is not that small, local farms should be targeted or branded as unsafe, or unconcerned with the production of safe food products. I’m sure that the truth is exactly the opposite, for the most part. But that does not alter the truth about raw milk, and it doesn’t make the product any safer if the farmer who produced it simply lacked the resources to ensure a safe and sanitary milking environment.
Thus, returning to the Florida woman’s petition to Whole Foods to continue selling raw milk, she shouldn’t be begrudged for having a devotion to more natural foods. But her petition is indisputably misleading. "Times have changed," true enough, but not so much that the production methods employed by many raw milk producers "make pasteurization absolutely unnecessary for public protection."