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Thank you for joining us Ms. Burros. You have done an admirable job throughout your career and I enjoy reading your articles in the New York Times.

One of your main foci over your career has been health and nutrition. A particularly controversial area in the U.S. involves the production and sale of raw milk cheeses, especially young ones, which I believe are illegal. The controversy stems largely from the perceived health risks of these cheeses. What are your views on this subject specifically, and about the wisdom ,approach and effectiveness of food regulation in the US and the EU in general?

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I certainly hope the Food and Drug Administration does not ban the unpasteurized cheeses from this country. They've been talking about it Maybe women who are pregnant shouldn't eat them because if there is a problem it could ahve an effect on unborn children.

Otherwise, we all decide which risks we are willing to take and which we won't.

Raw milk cheese is one of those risks I take, along with raw oysters and raw fish.

On the other hand I won't eat a hamburger for which I haven't ground the meat myself or watched someone do it.

Does this make sense; probably not.

Food safety in the U.S. is in dire need of a change in philosophy. The Europeans believe in the precautionary principle: if something might go wrong, let's not take a chance; Americans believe we should wait to see what happens: if something goes wrong, we'll clean it up after. what's the harm in being careful in advance. Do we really need to irradiated ground beef for school lunches? Wouldn't it be better to clean up the way cattle are raised, slaughtered and processed, or barring that, cooking the meat long enough to kill the bacteria

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Do you have any favorite raw milk producers in the U.S.?

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Food safety in the U.S. is in dire need of a change in philosophy. The Europeans believe in the precautionary principle: if something might go wrong, let's not take a chance; Americans believe we should wait to see what happens: if something goes wrong, we'll clean it up after.

a curious remark in lieu of the whole mad cow episode in european history, borne out of bad animal husbandry as a means for profit and cheap meat in britain, then exported to the rest of the world in feed once that became outlawed here in britain.

America has not had mad cow until recently, and then it has so far, thank god, only been one cow (and that imported from canada, no doubt fed on the imported from britain grain). and when that one cow was discovered, it was dealt with promptly, which is not what happened in britain nor even in Europe...until recently i hasten to add, at this point in time a revolution on animal husbandry has occurred to a large degree because of mad cow, and then foot and mouth.

anyhow,

when i was inspecting several prosciutto makers in Parma and they realized I was American, one of my "hosts" took me aside and said: "You know, your USDA protects you extremely well, they have very stringent policies and standards, higher than anyone elses."

in france, and italy, i always feel i am eating meat that was raised with love, because i have visited so many farms there and see the small-scale production. but that is a tradition rather than food hygiene standard, and in fact, many of the traditional methods of farming and artisanal food making is under threat from the EU standardizing of food hygiene laws.

how do you feel about foie gras?

thanks for your time on this forum,

Marlena the spieler

www.marlenaspieler.com

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I think the aim in the US is to try to protect everyone from every possible consequence. While laudable, I do not believe that is possible. In medicine I believe in the informed consent. I am not God and so cannot predict the future with one hundred percent accuracy. I can, however, assess probabilities and the potential risk vs. the potential benefit. I then convey that to my patient as best I can and ultimately the patient has a decision to make based upon that information. I believe this should also apply to products like raw milk cheeses. Sure, there is risk, but there is also potentially significant benefit. I would feel very comfortable if these products were made available with warning labels if necessary so that people can choose for themselves what risks they are or are not willing to accept.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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It's not quite fair to indict all of Europe with G.B.. When I said Europe in this instance I meant the continent.You don't see any bovine growth hormone there; no irradiation.

I think our federal food agencies are falling down on the job in many, many areas, no matter what Europeans may think or say

Foie gras. I love it, but in very small amounts

Actually it isn't the Ag Dept but the Food and Drug Administration that has been threatening, I believe, but I haven't heard anything lately on unpast cheese

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Ms. Burros:

A very interesting discussion we have going here. Thanks for your time and thoughts.

I'm interested in your comment about the European reliance on the precautionary principle. When looked at from one perspective, the European refusal to accept such technologies as genetic modification or irradiation or any other laboratory process does appear to be the precautionary principle in action. However, from another perspective, the failure to be as picky, if not moreso, than the USDA when considering dairy and meat matters belies that contention, don't you think? A very few people are known to become ill from raw dairy, and tradition prevents regulation. However bring in something new and unheard of, regardless of scientific pronouncements of harmlessness, and the continent is up in arms.

All of which seems to tie in well with the Slow food movement... keep your science off my food... tradition is the best teacher, and such.

Was wondering about your thoughts on the matter,

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Maybe they don't have to be so picky because they don't have industrial agriculture quite on the scale that we do. But, in fac,t our agencies are only selectively picky. It depends on what the industry tells them to do.

Anyway, I think scientists should keep their cotton pickin fingers off raw ingredients, thank you. I don't need nutraceuticals. With rare exceptions if you eat meals based on unprocessed foods you don't need to have your food ""fixed" by scientists.

Genetic engineering may be good for someone but iit's not good for me.

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Sure, there is risk, but there is also potentially significant benefit. I would feel very comfortable if these products were made available with warning labels if necessary so that people can choose for themselves what risks they are or are not willing to accept.

What is the "potentially significant" benefit? Robyn

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