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Yesterday the CDC issued a press release claiming a rate of 150 times
more outbreaks from raw milk than pasteurized. We have prepared the
press release below, with a critique of their data.
Please send this press release to your local newspapers and post on your
various email lists and websites. You can also use the information below
to write to local newspapers and your elected officials.
Thank you for joining us in raw milk activism!
Sally Fallon Morell, President
Kathy Kramer, Executive Director
CDC CHERRY PICKS DATA TO MAKE CASE AGAINST RAW MILK
Agency ignores data that shows dangers of pasteurized milk
WASHINGTON, DC, February 21, 2012. In a press release issued today,
authors affiliated with the Centers for Disease Control claim that the
rate of outbreaks caused by unpasteurized milk and products made from it
was 150 times greater than outbreaks linked to pasteurized milk.” The
authors based this conclusion on an analysis of reports submitted to the
CDC from 1993 to 2006.
According the Weston A. Price Foundation, the CDC has manipulated and
cherry picked this data to make raw milk look dangerous and to dismiss
the same dangers associated with pasteurized milk.
“What consumers need to realize, first of all,” said Sally Fallon
Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, “is that the
incidence of foodborne illnesses from dairy products, whether
pasteurized or not, is extremely low. For the 14-year period that the
authors examined, there was an average of 315 illnesses a year from all
dairy products for which the pasteurization status was known. Of those,
there was an average of 112 illnesses each year attributed to all raw
dairy products and 203 associated with pasteurized dairy products.
“In comparison, there are almost 24,000 foodborne illnesses reported
each year on average. Whether pasteurized or not, dairy products are
simply not a high risk product.”
Because the incidence of illness from dairy products is so low, the
authors’ choice of the time period for the study affected the results
significantly, yet their decision to stop the analysis with the year
2006 was not explained. The CDC’s data shows that there were significant
outbreaks of foodborne illness linked to pasteurized dairy products the
very next year, in 2007: 135 people became ill from pasteurized cheese
contad with e. coli, and three people died from pasteurized milk
contaminated with listeria (wwwn.cdc.gov/foodborneoutbreaks/Default.aspx).
Outbreaks from pasteurized dairy were also a significant problem in the
1980s. In 1985, there were over 16,000 confirmed cases of Salmonella
infection that were traced back to pasteurized milk from a single dairy.
Surveys estimated that the actual number of people who became ill in
that outbreak were over 168,000, “making this the largest outbreak of
salmonellosis ever identified in the United States” at that time,
according to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
According to Fallon Morell “In the context of the very low numbers of
illnesses attributed to dairy in general, the authors’ decision to cut
the time frame short, as compared to the available CDC data, is
troubling and adds to questions about the bias in this publication.”
According to Fallon Morell, the CDC’s authors continue to obscure their
study by failing to document the actual information they are using. They
rely on reports, many of which are preliminary. Of the references
related to dairy outbreaks, five are from outbreaks in other countries,
several did not involve any illness, seven are about cheese-related
incidents, and of the forty-six outbreaks they count, only five describe
Perhaps most troubling is the authors’ decision to focus on outbreaks
rather than illnesses. An “outbreak” of foodborne illness can consist of
two people with minor stomachaches to thousands of people with bloody
diarrhea. In addressing the risk posed for individuals who consume a
food, the logical data to examine is the number of illnesses, not the
number of outbreaks.
“The authors acknowledge that the number of foodborne illnesses from raw
dairy products (as opposed to outbreaks) were not significantly
different in states where raw milk is legal to sell compared with states
where it is illegal to sell,” notes Judith McGeary of the Farm and Ranch
Freedom Alliance. “In other words, had the authors looked at actual risk
of illness, instead of the artificially defined “outbreaks,” there would
have been no significant results to report.”
This does not end the list of flaws with the study, however. The link
between the outbreaks and the legal status of raw dairy mixed an entire
category of diverse products. Illnesses from suitcase style raw cheese
or queso fresco were lumped together with illnesses attributed to fluid
raw milk, a much less risky product. In the majority of states where the
sale of raw fluid milk is allowed, the sale of queso fresco is still
illegal. The authors had all of the data on which products were legal
and which products allegedly caused the illnesses, yet chose not to use
Similarly, to create the claimed numbers for how much riskier raw dairy
products are, the authors relied on old data on raw milk consumption
rates, rather than using the CDC’s own food survey from 2006-2007. The
newer data showed that about 3 percent of the population consumes raw
milk—over nine million people--yet the authors chose instead to make
conclusions based on the assumption that only 1 percent of the dairy
products in the country are consumed raw.
The authors also ignored relevant data on the populations of each state.
For example, the three most populous states in the country (California,
Texas, and New York) all allow for legal sales of raw milk; the larger
number of people in these states would logically lead to larger numbers
of illnesses than in low-population states such as Montana and Wyoming
and has nothing to do with the fact that raw milk is illegal in those
“It would hardly be surprising to see some sort of increase in foodborne
illnesses related to a food where that food is legal,” said McGeary. “If
we banned ground beef, we’d see fewer illnesses related to ground beef
products. Yet this new study fails to prove even that common-sense
proposition, even as it claims to prove a great deal more. What the data
really shows is that raw dairy products cause very few illnesses each
year, even though the CDC data indicates that over 9 million people
Contact: Kimberly Hartke, Publicist, The Weston A. Price Foundation
The Weston A. Price Foundation is a 501C3 nutrition education foundation
with the mission of disseminating accurate, science-based information on
diet and health. Named after nutrition pioneer Weston A. Price, DDS,
author of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, the Washington, DC-based
Foundation publishes a quarterly journal for its 13,000 members,
supports 500 local chapters worldwide and hosts a yearly conference. The
Foundation headquarters phone number is (202) 363-4394,
PMB #106-380 4200 Wisconsin Avenue, NW | Washington, DC 20016 US
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