Health conscious California consumers may be in for a less healthy 2008 due to a new state law, signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on October 8, 2007. According to the language in AB1735, raw milk must now -- for the first time -- conform to strict limits for coliform bacteria.
Mark McAfee, managing partner of Organic Pastures Dairy in Fresno, which produces most of the raw milk sold in California, said, "It basically prohibits raw milk in California." He sees the standard as a stealth attempt to ban raw milk.
The problem stems from one line inserted into the new bill (marked in red), which now calls for a coliform bacteria limit of 10 coliform bacteria per ml:
35891. Grade A raw milk is market milk which conforms to all the
following minimum requirements:
(a) The health of the cows and goats shall be determined at least
once in two months by an official representative of an approved milk
inspection service, or a milk inspection service which is established
by the director.
(b) It shall be produced on dairy farms that score not less than
85 percent on the dairy farm scorecard.
(c) It shall be cooled immediately after being drawn from the cow
or goat to 50 degrees Fahrenheit or less, and so maintained until
delivered to the consumer, at which time it shall contain not more
than 15,000 bacteria per milliliter, and/or not more than 10 coliform bacteria per milliliter.
However, both raw milk advocates and milk safety authorities agree that only a few of the coliform bacteria strains actually cause illness, such as:
These pathogenic forms of E.coli are already tested separately by the state, to ensure that none is present.
Previous standards have never included a limit on coliform bacteria, since they are in fact “good bacteria,” and one of the main reasons behind raw milk’s astounding health benefits. These beneficial bacteria help build your immune system, reduce allergies and asthma, and they actually inhibit the production of bad bacteria in raw milk.
In a letter to the members of the Agriculture Committee, Mark McAfee points out that this new requirement actually makes raw milk LESS safe, as less coliform bacteria means that more pathogens can thrive in the milk.
No illnesses have been connected to consumption of raw milk in the past 40 years, although bill AB1735 was most likely created in a knee-jerk reaction to four E.coli cases that were originally thought to have originated from Organic Pastures Dairy. McAfee was completely cleared and allowed to resume production when, after a three-week investigation, no evidence of contamination was found.
Neither McAfee nor the Claravale Dairy were consulted for this bill, even though they are the only dairies in California producing raw milk for human consumption.
The new law also makes non-compliance punishable by criminal action, rather than infractions.
Between this latest sneak attack, and the new guidelines being proposed by the FDA for raw-milk cheese, it’s becoming clear that in order to save the raw milk industry, you, as a concerned consumer (whether you actually drink raw milk or not) need to take a stand and join in the efforts to quell these disastrous regulations.
Raw milk is an absolutely marvelous whole food, whereas pasteurized milk is just not designed for your best long-term health interests, and will invariably cause you problems if you drink it long enough.
Why is Raw Milk Good for you?
- Raw milk still contains all of the valuable enzymes that are destroyed during pasteurization. Without them, milk is very difficult to digest. So if you have a lactose intolerance, it will simply disappear once you start consuming raw dairy products.
- Raw milk is an outstanding source of healthy, “good” bacteria and micronutrients, including lactobacillus, acidophilus, and vitamins, which are virtually eliminated by the pasteurization process of commercial milk. It is an outstanding nutrient to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your intestine.
- Raw milk still contains natural butterfat, which is homogenized or removed in commercial milk. Without butterfat, your body cannot absorb and utilize the vitamins and minerals in the water fraction of the milk. Butterfat is also your best source of preformed vitamin A, and contains re-arranged acids with strong anti-carcinogenic properties.
- Raw milk does not contain synthetic vitamin D, which is known to be toxic to the liver, yet is still added to most commercial milk.
- Raw milk contains healthy unoxidized cholesterol.
Pasteurizing milk, on the other hand, destroys enzymes, diminishes vitamins, denatures fragile milk proteins, destroys vitamin B12 and vitamin B6, kills beneficial bacteria, and promotes pathogens.
From my perspective, there’s simply no rational justification to ever drink pasteurized milk, even organic pasteurized milk.
Once you heat milk, you distort the configuration -- the shape -- of the fragile milk protein, turning it from something good into something bad that will actually cause allergies and other autoimmune dysfunction. So, even if you start with organic milk from grass-fed cows, once you heat it the milk is ruined and should not be consumed.
In addition to the reasons mentioned above, raw-milk drinkers also rave about these additional benefits:
- You feel the health benefits: Raw milk is not associated with any of the health problems surrounding pasteurized milk, such as rheumatoid arthritis, skin rashes, diarrhea, and cramps. Even people who have been allergic to pasteurized milk for many years can typically tolerate and even thrive on raw milk.
- It tastes better: As with any food, fresher is always better and this applies to milk as well. Fresh raw milk is creamier and better tasting than pasteurized milk that has a shelf life of several weeks.
What You Can Do to Keep Raw Milk Legal in California
There are several ways you can help protect your (and others') right to buy raw milk in California. Please get involved, and do as many of them as you can. Together we can make a difference!
The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund (www.ftcldf.org) is the official non profit organization handling the legal defense and Consumer Revolt against AB 1735. Gary Cox is the lawyer handling the case. They are a legal 501 (C)(4) organization connected to the www.westonaprice.org. They need to raise $35,000 to defend your access to raw milk. So far they've raised 26 percent, so please donate!
To donate, and secure raw milk for your future, go to www.organicpastures.com and click on the legal defense fund link on the home page. Remember, whether you live in California or not, this bill will set a precedent that may eventually eliminate raw milk everywhere.
Also, call or write, and voice your opinion!
Assembly Agriculture Committee chair Nicole Parra (916) 319-2030
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, www.gov.ca.gov.
Call (916) 445-2841, or fax your letter to (916) 445-4633, asking the governor to stop enforcement of AB1735, and to spearhead the elimination of the law completely.
Make sure you sign your letter and supply your address to show that you are a resident of California.
California Department of Food and Agriculture, Animal Health and Food Safety Services, Milk and Dairy Food Safety Branch (916) 654-0773
For more information and updates, contact Organic Pastures at www.organicpastures.com or (559) 846-9732.