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The hysteria continues (raw-milk EVIL, says FDA)


misstenacity
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I understand and agree that the FDA's warning is not hyperbole and hysteria, but common sense - for those with compromised immunity or who do not want to take risks with their food.  But it is those types of warnings that can have a trickle effect on the day to day practices of inspectors, retailers, and ultimately, legislators, that affects all of us that love our raw milk cheese, no matter what kind or where from.

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Absolutely. In my humble opinion, people have become way too tolerant of nanny-statism, and it wouldn't surprise me if some nanny-statist congressperson got the bright idea to ban the sale of raw milk products. I'm all for the FDA keeping people informed, and don't oppose things like warning labels, but I strongly feel that when it comes to one's own health and body, the final decision should always be yours, not the state's. Sadly, few people in government feel the same way.

Edited by Patrick S (log)

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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I don't think warnings can be too dire, although there's the likelihood that eventually all warning agencies will be seen as crying wolf if they aren't reasonable in their warnings. By extension it is almost impossible for the government to overreact in terms of education. Once more, as long as it doesn't resort to unreasonable scare tactics. What seems unreasonable to me, is prohibiting all of the population from eating something because it's potentially dangerous to half the population, or ten percent of the population or 80% of the population, assuming that percent is forewarned and able to avoid the danger. If one percent of the population were deathly allergic to peanuts and peanuts were allowed to be labeled as "thickening agent," with no other identification on the product label, that would seem immoral to me.

By the same token, I would not object to mandated warnings on the labels of food susceptable to listeriosis about the risk and danger to pregnant women and those with impaired immune systems. I'd prefer that to the complete outlawing a raw milk products. I do think the government has some role to play in seeing that potentially dangerous products don't reach food store shelves. France's dairy inspection standards seem reasonable. Our ban on raw milk seems less so, but it's less costly financially. The price we pay is in the quality of cheese available. Get away from the forums and see if any one cares.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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Bux, I think that if something were really dangerous for half the population, that would be a good reason to ban or at least severely limit access to it. At a certain point, one reaches a percentage where overall public health is seriously affected.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Of course, we all have different ideas when it comes to individual liberty. Personally I see it as my own right to risk my own health by eating dangerous cheeses, sniffing glue and bungie jumping as long as I don't bother you. Slap on a warning label, sure. Even ban sale to minors. I can agree with that. But not with a blanket ban.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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Of course, we all have different ideas when it comes to individual liberty. Personally I see it as my own right to risk my own health by eating dangerous cheeses, sniffing glue and bungie jumping as long as I don't bother you. Slap on a warning label, sure. Even ban sale to minors. I can agree with that. But not with a blanket ban.

That would be great if your average person was smart enough to make the right kinds of choices, or at least not sue if they made the wrong choice and got harmed. But from what I've noticed, people are not getting smarter or less litigious as time goes on. And that means problems for all of us. Large tort settlements or judgements raise company insurance rates, which raises prices for all of us over the long term. People seeking medical treatment for self-inflicted conditions raises everyone's health insurance premiums. I don't know about other people posting on this thread, but my premiums are high and if they go much higher we will not be able to afford health coverage. I would love to live in a world where we could rely on an individual's own intelligence and common sense to keep people out of trouble, but that is not going to happen.

Also - if we were talking about a drug that the FDA had approved that was causing serious illness and/or death in even 1 percent of the population that took the drug, people would be outraged and demand reform. Witness the whole Vioxx situation. I don't think it's necessarily "nanny-statism" for the government to take reasonable steps to insure the safety of the general population when it comes to a foodstuff you can choose not to ingest, and I think it's kind of narcissistic for a person to view that kind of action as "the government is trampling on MY INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS! Shame on them!" Maybe it's not just about one person and their desire to take Vioxx or eat raw-milk cheese.

/not in favor of banning raw-milk cheese, just pointing out another side here.

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[...]People seeking medical treatment for self-inflicted conditions raises everyone's health insurance premiums. I don't know about other people posting on this thread, but my premiums are high and if they go much higher we will not be able to afford health coverage.[...]

That's arguably a political issue, though. If you were living in Canada or Europe or some other place where you didn't have to pay for your own medical insurance, would you feel differently about this?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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[...]People seeking medical treatment for self-inflicted conditions raises everyone's health insurance premiums. I don't know about other people posting on this thread, but my premiums are high and if they go much higher we will not be able to afford health coverage.[...]

That's arguably a political issue, though. If you were living in Canada or Europe or some other place where you didn't have to pay for your own medical insurance, would you feel differently about this?

One way or another it gets paid for - either by insurance premiums or taxes. The real problem is the whole issue of liability and how that has careened out of control. This is pertinent to the issue of raw milk cheeses as well as things like wild mushrooms or other food products. To a significant extent the concern about liability is good because it makes people aware of potential consequences of not having a safe product and thereby working harder to have one. The problem though is that no one in the US seems to be willing or able to take responsibility for themselves, whether it be eating raw milk cheeses, wild mushrooms in LA or spilling hot McDonald's coffee in one's lap. The whole Vioxx issue makes me sick. Is there a risk to the drug? Sure, but there are risks to any drug. The benefits were quite significant to a great number of people, who now are much less likely to get the same re

I don't think the question should be one of absolute numbers (i.e. risk to half the population). Instead it is simple risk/benefit analysis. What is the likelihood of a complication occurring and if so, how severe is it likely to be? Then, what are the potential benefits of the same process, how significant are they and what is the likelihood of achieving them? There is very little in life that is purre black and white when looked at this way. That is certainly true in medicine, where we use (or should use) this kind of analysis constantly. I think that it is reasonable to put warnings on raw milk cheeses after allowing for a suitable inspection process to determine that elemental hygiene has been met and that the animals producing the milk are healthy.

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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John, good inspections also take money, let's not forget that.

That was one of the points I tried to make. It's cheaper to ban raw milk than it is to have the controls and inspections that would certify we had a healthy raw product. Of course we, as a society, could allow raw milk but subject it's sale to rigorous testing and controls that would raise the price considerably. There may, or may not be a market at the price necessary, but it's not even that simple. The pasturized milk lobby that represents milk plants that operate far too sloppily to ever produce safe raw milk fears the effect of raw milk on the market. It lobbies the legislators and indoctrinates enough of the consumer market with fear thus reducing the power of those who would pay the price for raw milk cheese.

Can raw milk cheese be dangerous to eat? That's a loaded question along the lines of "have you stopped beating your wife." The real question is "can contmainated cheese be unhealthy or even fatal?" The answer is "yes," but I've heard of more problems in that regard with cheese made from pasturized milk in the US than with cheese made from raw milk in France. That proves very little as I hear more US news than French and we're a larger country with a larger population. Nevertheless, I suspect we're taking the easy safeguards but not necessarily the important ones.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Absolutely. In my humble opinion, people have become way too tolerant of nanny-statism, and it wouldn't surprise me if some nanny-statist congressperson got the bright idea to ban the sale of raw milk products.  I'm all for the FDA keeping people informed, and don't oppose things like warning labels, but I strongly feel that when it comes to one's own health and body, the final decision should always be yours, not the state's. Sadly, few people in government feel the same way.

Several states already severely restrict or ban outright the sale of raw milk and raw milk products for human consumption, and have for years.

If you think back to the first several decades of this century, when most of these laws were enacted, the safety of our food supply was not as sure a thing as it is now. Farmers didn't test their dairy herds for bacteria the way many do now, nor were there any reasonably accurate tests available. The easiest and most effective way to protect the public was for the government to mandate certain procedures and ban the sale of good.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

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... The easiest and most effective way to protect the public ...

"People [aka societies] who sacrifice beauty for efficiency get what they deserve."

(Robert M. Pirsig)

Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

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Of course, we all have different ideas when it comes to individual liberty. Personally I see it as my own right to risk my own health by eating dangerous cheeses, sniffing glue and bungie jumping as long as I don't bother you. Slap on a warning label, sure. Even ban sale to minors. I can agree with that. But not with a blanket ban.

That would be great if your average person was smart enough to make the right kinds of choices, or at least not sue if they made the wrong choice and got harmed.

Right, and that is exactly where we disagree. I don't see the state, or you, as having the right to make my health/diet choices for me. I think I have the right to detroy my body the way I see fit.

I totally agree though that people should not have the right to sue someone else for their own bad choices.

Edited by Patrick S (log)

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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Of course, we all have different ideas when it comes to individual liberty. Personally I see it as my own right to risk my own health by eating dangerous cheeses, sniffing glue and bungie jumping as long as I don't bother you. Slap on a warning label, sure. Even ban sale to minors. I can agree with that. But not with a blanket ban.

That would be great if your average person was smart enough to make the right kinds of choices, or at least not sue if they made the wrong choice and got harmed. But from what I've noticed, people are not getting smarter or less litigious as time goes on. And that means problems for all of us. Large tort settlements or judgements raise company insurance rates, which raises prices for all of us over the long term. People seeking medical treatment for self-inflicted conditions raises everyone's health insurance premiums. I don't know about other people posting on this thread, but my premiums are high and if they go much higher we will not be able to afford health coverage. I would love to live in a world where we could rely on an individual's own intelligence and common sense to keep people out of trouble, but that is not going to happen.

So, you would be in favor of government restrictions of, say, individual caloric intake? Should it be illegal for, say, a McDonald's to serve someone a heaping pile of junk food every day? There are all sorts of health risks associated with diet, not just risks from pathogens as in cheese. For instance, should the government mandate a certain intake of fruits and vegetables, in order to moderate the excess cancer risks from a diet low in fruits and vegetables? Bad diets are affecting you insurance premiums to a far greater degree than foodbourne pathogens, so shouldn't we be legislating diet also?

EDIT to add: I missed where you said "not in favor of banning raw-milk cheese, just pointing out another side here."

Edited by Patrick S (log)

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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[...]People seeking medical treatment for self-inflicted conditions raises everyone's health insurance premiums. I don't know about other people posting on this thread, but my premiums are high and if they go much higher we will not be able to afford health coverage.[...]

That's arguably a political issue, though. If you were living in Canada or Europe or some other place where you didn't have to pay for your own medical insurance, would you feel differently about this?

One way or another it gets paid for - either by insurance premiums or taxes. The real problem is the whole issue of liability and how that has careened out of control. This is pertinent to the issue of raw milk cheeses as well as things like wild mushrooms or other food products. To a significant extent the concern about liability is good because it makes people aware of potential consequences of not having a safe product and thereby working harder to have one. The problem though is that no one in the US seems to be willing or able to take responsibility for themselves, whether it be eating raw milk cheeses, wild mushrooms in LA or spilling hot McDonald's coffee in one's lap.

Exactly! It really is amazing.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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Witness the whole Vioxx situation. I don't think it's necessarily "nanny-statism" for the government to take reasonable steps to insure the safety of the general population when it comes to a foodstuff you can choose not to ingest, and I think it's kind of narcissistic for a person to view that kind of action as "the government is trampling on MY INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS! Shame on them!" Maybe it's not just about one person and their desire to take Vioxx or eat raw-milk cheese

I'm not sure I understand your point. It would absolutely be nanny-statism for the gov't to ban Vioxx for people with rheumatoid arthritis who haven't had relief from any other drug. The narcissism is entirely on the part of the person who says, in effect, 'Sorry, but you are too stupid to decide whether you want to trade pain relief for increased risk of heart attack.'

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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I don't think of British Columbia as a particularly nanny-state place - but it's illegal to sell raw milk there.  Look here.  Robyn

The nanny-state doesn't have to be nanny-statist in all its affairs. God knows the US isn't. I mean, there are apparently much stricter controls on raw milk cheeses, which kill maybe a few to a few dozen people a year, than there is on cigarettes, which kill roughly 400,000 people a year.

Edited by Patrick S (log)

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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Its also interesting to consider raw milk cheese in the context of other food-borne pathogens. Raw milk cheese is not exceptionally dangerous. It is dangerous in the same ways that raw meat, eggs, and even produce are dangerous. Is it against the law to sell very rare steaks. Or unwashed produce that could be contaminated E. Coli? Or desserts made with raw egg whites?

Edited by Patrick S (log)

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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Wow! Patrick, I believe you make the case. Are you trained as a pastry chef, food scientist and lawyer? Very well said. I forgot to mention writer. :cool:

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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John, good inspections also take money, let's not forget that.

That was one of the points I tried to make. It's cheaper to ban raw milk than it is to have the controls and inspections that would certify we had a healthy raw product. Of course we, as a society, could allow raw milk but subject it's sale to rigorous testing and controls that would raise the price considerably. There may, or may not be a market at the price necessary, but it's not even that simple. The pasturized milk lobby that represents milk plants that operate far too sloppily to ever produce safe raw milk fears the effect of raw milk on the market. It lobbies the legislators and indoctrinates enough of the consumer market with fear thus reducing the power of those who would pay the price for raw milk cheese.

Snip... Nevertheless, I suspect we're taking the easy safeguards but not necessarily the important ones.

Bux, thank you. I think you summed this up perfectly.

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John, good inspections also take money, let's not forget that.

That was one of the points I tried to make. It's cheaper to ban raw milk than it is to have the controls and inspections that would certify we had a healthy raw product. Of course we, as a society, could allow raw milk but subject it's sale to rigorous testing and controls that would raise the price considerably. There may, or may not be a market at the price necessary, but it's not even that simple. The pasturized milk lobby that represents milk plants that operate far too sloppily to ever produce safe raw milk fears the effect of raw milk on the market. It lobbies the legislators and indoctrinates enough of the consumer market with fear thus reducing the power of those who would pay the price for raw milk cheese.

Snip... Nevertheless, I suspect we're taking the easy safeguards but not necessarily the important ones.

Bux, thank you. I think you summed this up perfectly.

What makes you think that the producers of food products - or the entities that make/produce other kinds of things - bear the total cost of inspections? Robyn

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What makes you think that the producers of food products - or the entities that make/produce other kinds of things - bear the total cost of inspections?  Robyn

Did anyone say they thought that? I sure don't. Tax dollars pay for government inspections where I come from.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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The cost of many inspections is passed on to the processor or producer who's required to have an inspector on site and who is required to pay the costs for having that inspector. Nevertheless there are other costs involved in running the various agencies that are not directly passed on and beyond the direct finances there are the responsibilities involved. I noted that there are lobbies involved and I noted that we often take the easy way out, not the cheapest way out. It's not simply a matter of tax dollars or who's footing the bill.

By the way, when producers pay the bill, the costs are passed on to the consumer. There's an inherent fairness in having the consumer of the product pay for the costs associated with the product he buys rather than having the taxpayer at large pay for them. This of course, assumes the consumer benefits. I'd be far happier to pay for inspections that make my raw milk cheese safer than I am for inspections that keep raw milk cheese out of the US.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Sorry for making an unwarranted assumption. I should have added "as far as I know."

I can see things both ways in terms of the costs of inspections. It's certainly fair for them to be part of the cost of a product, but it's also fair for tax dollars to be used, especially where communicable diseases or cross-spreadable contamination (if that's the right term) could be involved.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I just shared a vacherin mont d'or with a friend who is a cheese importer. from the first bite we could tell by the sweetness in the milk and the complexity on the tongue that it was made from raw unpasturized milk. it was so alive it practically walked into the kitchen and sat down at the table with us!

more praise singing: it was soooooo delicious, and soooooo delicate without the slightly bitter edge or unpleasant aromatic undertone, or any chalkiness, it was simply the most delicious vacherin mont d'or.

i wish everyone i love could have had some. but never mind getting it (or a cheese like it) to daughter in new york city, or friends in san francisco, with eu regulations, such raw cheeses are a rarity here in europe too and i wouldn't risk smuggling it into the us.

from what i've read, though, and been told by cheesemakers, raw milk cheeses need more in the way of hygenic care, which in fact makes them a more cared for and cleanly produced cheese.

so i'm on the side of the inspectors and inspections, and on the side of the raw milk cheese producers making cheese the old fashioned way, and that includes using straw matts to rest the cheeses on (which has been outlawed by the eu). i'm sure it imparts a delicate quality to the cheeses resting on them.

Edited by marlena spieler (log)

Marlena the spieler

www.marlenaspieler.com

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