Is fresher always better? Advocates of the increasingly popular agri-food movement tell us to buy organic, protest GMOs, and always favour the least processed foods. All of this certainly sounds healthy – that is until you look closer at the science, which when it comes to raw milk, doesn’t always favour the farm-to-table theorists.
What the science says
Anyone who’s taken a food safety course will confirm that raw milk contains seriously harmful bacteria. Science-based evidence has revealed that unpasteurized milk plays host to an array of well-known invaders, such as Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria, and Campylobactor. These germs have been known to seriously weaken, and even kill their victims – so to willingly consume them seems reckless from a public health perspective.
Russian roulette with raw milk
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention warns that while some people can get away with consuming raw milk without consequence – because levels of contamination vary – it is only a matter of time before bacteria gets the better of them. The CDCP regards drinking raw milk as similar to playing a rigged game of risk that the consumer is unlikely to win. And why play in the first place? Pasteurization merely heats raw milk long enough to destroy bacteria, while leaving most of its nutrients intact. It is a highly effective food safety certification measure invented to combat deadly diseases like tuberculosis and typhoid fever.
Proponents cite inconclusive studies, health benefits
Raw milk advocates draw attention to scientific studies that simply can’t prove that pasteurization leaves milk’s nutrients intact. Even the FDA has admitted that the heating process destroys a substantial portion of vitamin C in milk and decreased its content of manganese, copper and iron.
Michael Schmidt, a crusading raw milk farmer, is currently battling the Ontario government in favour of legalization – his lawyers have cited new scientific studies that link unpasteurized milk with allergy and asthma prevention. Other supporters of the movement point out that raw milk comes from cows fed grass, rather than grains. Grass fed milk has been shown to contain higher levels of essential fatty acids.
The right to choose is reason enough
It could be that Canada is behind the curve when it comes to legalizing raw milk. In Europe, it’s sold out of vending machines, and many American states permit the sale of unpasteurized milk. Food freedom fighters point out that, aside from the believed health and environmental benefits, consumers should have the right to choose what they put in their bodies. While traditional food safety training tells regulators to ban raw milk as a health risk, advocates consider its restriction an infringement on their essential rights and freedoms. After all, with millions of avid consumers worldwide, just how deadly can raw milk be?
Do you believe the benefits outweigh the risks, and that Canada should legalize raw milk?