Dear Linden, Editors and others,
A recent press release has advised consumers against drinking raw milk due to MRSA being found in five bulk tanks:
This press release co-incides with an imminent review of raw milk regulations by the FSA. The writer fails to make a distinction raw milk which the FSA has certified for human consumption vs lower grade commodity milk that must be pasteurised. Indeed, commodity milk without a raw milk licence is frequently contaminated with a whole host of pathogens, principally because the farmers is satisfied that the milk will be heat treated. Had MRSA not been found, the researchers could have trotted out the long list of contaminants frequently found in the milk of intensively farmed cows. Indeed, many outbreaks occur when said low quality milk goes through a faulty pasteurising unit simply because such high levels of infection were permitted in the bulk tank. This is a clear moral hazard which has clear implications to milk quality and is part of the race to the bottom in milk quality and wholesale prices.
The article states that routine use of anti-biotics is the cause of MRSA in bulk tanks, citing this as a reason to avoid raw drinking milk. However, any herd sickly enough to require routine anti-biotics would have a bacterial count too high to get a raw milk licence. Furthermore, in raw dairies, cows are taken off milking as soon as there is any sign of infection or need for anti-biotics. Indeed, the entire herd will be taken off milking for raw drinking milk with even the slightest anti-bodies to TB and other infectious diseases in just one cow, and they are tested far more frequently and to a higher standard. Consumers concerned with routine use of anti-bodies should therefore be encouraged to drink certified raw milk because raw dairies do milk any cows on anti-biotics. This one of the reasons why farmers producing artisan raw milk, sold direct to consumers can command a price of between £1 and £2 a litre, bucking the trend in the wholesale market where milk sells below the price of production at around 20p/litre. We encourage journalists to support local, successful artisan farmers
The FSA Board stated in their recent board meeting announcing the raw milk review that they were united in the view that raw milk is inherently dangerous yet in the same report, paragraph 10, stated no evidence of danger due to there being no outbreak for decades. This dichotomy and lack of confidence in the regulatory process is due to a combination of industry lobbying and failure make the distinction between raw milk certified for human consumption and, commodity raw milk destined for pasteurisation. The Weston A. Price Foundation agrees that commodity raw milk destined for pasteurisation is inherently dangerous because it is not treated as food grade prior to heat treatment, but artisan raw milk certified for human consumption has a clean track record and the FSA has a perfect track record of regulating raw milk.