By Laurene Williams, HoneyColony Original

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  • Straight Up

Whether you slurp it, gulp it or guzzle it down, cows have nothing to do with it. An average cow produces about 2,320 gallons of unadulterated milk per year. It then gets pasteurized, bottled and shipped. It can also get homogenized and fortified. Pasteurization, which exposes it to temperatures below boiling, changes the milk’s chemistry, depletes vitamins and minerals and, many argue, takes out some of its moo moo flavor. But by “going raw,” according to opponents, you don’t do yourself any favors. In fact, that’s an open invitation to Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria, bacteria that contribute to the 78 million cases of food poisoning in the U.S. each year. Think again, say the pro-raw drinkers. In reality pasteurization destabilizes the natural chemical balance of the milk and makes it even more prone to bacterial invasions during bottling and handling. Take that, say the pro-pasteurizers: you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Fact Check

According to the CDC from 1998 through 2011 “148 outbreaks due to consumption of raw milk or raw milk products … resulted in 2,384 illnesses …”

The FDA states that “Pasteurization is a process that kills harmful bacteria by heating milk to a specific temperature for a set period of time … Research shows no meaningful difference in the nutritional values of pasteurized and unpasteurized milk.”

The FDA states that some people who consume raw milk or raw milk products “can develop symptoms that are chronic, severe, or even life-threatening.”

In 2008 several neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan revealed their love of raw milk when six state troopers confronted a Mennonite farmer from Pennsylvania, Mark Nolt, for peddling the contraband. Because he was a farmer with wholesale produce and because he contracted with his New York customers privately, he believed he could fly beneath the legal radar. But apparently the drop-off points he’d arranged throughout the city in defiance of state law were enough to provoke a raid on his premises, a confiscation of his goods and his arrest.

Fact Check

The FDA issues a press release on June 28, 2009 stating that Plainview Milk Products Cooperative was recalling nonfat dried milk, whey protein and other products due to a possible outbreak of Salmonella. As a large conventional supplier of milk products, the instant nonfat dry milk labels and brands that were recalled included America’s Choice, Pathmark, Stop & Shop, Giant, Food Lion, Saco, Laura Lynn, White Rose, Foodtown, Hannaford, Key Foods, Krasdale, Weis, Great Value, Best Yet, Big Y, Food Club, Meijer and Sturm Village Farm.

Point: Both pasteurized and raw milk can get contaminated.

A Cow’s Retort: Who me?

In 28 states, obtaining a bottle of contraband raw milk will get the dealer busted. Mark Nolt was fined $4,040. As for his detractors who said that selling raw milk endangers the lives of the uninformed children who end up drinking it, the reality is that those same children aren’t informed about a lot of things about a lot of foods.

Pasteurized milk has a refrigerated shelf life of two to three weeks. Ultra-pasteurization has a refrigerated shelf life of two to three months. More advanced pasteurization and handling technologies allow milk to be stored unrefrigerated for up to six months. When large distributors need to ship their milk products to outlets far and wide, pasteurizing gives them the latitude they need to help meet orders. As a scientifically proven measure against tuberculosis, salmonellosis, listeriosis, among other diseases, pasteurization can be embraced for both right and wrong reasons.

But perhaps any discussion about which milk is healthier should be prefaced by the question, “Should you be drinking milk at all?”

Fact Check

Adults produce less lactase — For the lactose-intolerant, a lack of the enzyme lactase, which allows your body to metabolize milk, can result in allergies, hay fever, eczema, and asthma.

Sixty five percent of adults are lactose intolerant — Genetics Home Reference, National Library of Medicine, August 20, 2013

Lactose intolerance varies from region to region — Swedes rank as one of the world’s most lactose-tolerant people with an estimated 98% of the population. Native Americans rank the lowest at nearly 0%. Estimated Asian population with lactose-tolerance is 5%, Africans and Caribbean people 25%, Mediterranean people 50% and Northern Europeans 90%.

Dairy is undoubtedly a delicious treat that has become a mainstay of the American diet, in large part due to the USDA food pyramid. Introduced in 1992, it recommended three cups of dairy per day. The following year it got a huge boost from the launch of the nationwide Got Milk? ad campaign. And since that time the government continues to introduce measures to control milk prices. But when deciding what’s right for you, you may not even need to politicize it or truly wonder if you’re under the sway of powerful marketing. Ask yourself how you feel after a quart of milk, a slab of cheese and a bucket of ice cream.

Laurene Williams is the Senior Editor at HoneyColony.

Find out more about Laurene….

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