By Mark McAfee
Letter From Mark McAfee, CEO Organic Pastures Dairy, to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC)
As a grade A producer of retailed-approved raw milk in California, I find your raw milk page filled with highly erroneous and very misleading information. I have written the CDC officially with certified letters many times in the last several years in an effort to correct the CDC misinformation about raw milk.
In California, we have legal retail-approved raw milk in four hundred stores consumed by seventy-five thousand consumers each week. This retail legal raw milk is tested and state inspected and far exceeds pasteurized milk product standards without any heat or processing. It is clean raw milk from a single source dairy. There have been no deaths from raw milk in California in thirty-seven years.
Two years ago, I submitted a FOIA request to the CDC to request data on the two deaths that the CDC database claims were from raw milk. The data I received back from the CDC showed that in fact there had been no death from raw milk at all. The two deaths had been from illegal Mexican bath tub cheese and not raw milk from any place in America. Why does the CDC persist in publishing this erroneous information?
If the CDC is a scientific organization and not a data spinning, twisting arm of Big Ag dairy processors, processors that hate raw milk because they lose control over markets when farmers connect directly to consumers with clean raw milk, I would urge you to correct the data that is posted at your raw milk website and include the correct data. There have been no deaths from raw milk or even raw milk products in America from an American source of raw milk. That is the data that the CDC gave me. If that is incorrect, please send me that data. Why does the CDC persist in publishing misleading information?
Your CDC website is incomplete and shows massive bias. There is no mention of the peer reviewed and internationally published studies—the PARSIFAL and GABRIELA studies of twenty-three thousand children in the EU done in Basel Switzerland—of how raw milk stabilizes MAST cells and heals and prevents asthma and eczema. There is no mention of the massive market segment departure from fluid pasteurized milk because of lactose intolerance, and no mention of the fact that rarely do consumers experience lactose intolerance with raw milk. The CDC raw milk website is one-sided and only attacks raw milk. This is not the scientific approach. It is a political approach for the suppression and destruction of raw milk.
The CDC website states that raw milk is one of the riskiest foods in America. Yet, the FDA does not mention raw milk on their top ten most risky foods in America list. Pasteurized ice cream and pasteurized cheeses make the top ten risky foods list. This is an outrage! It is disingenuous. It is unethical and it is highly biased and unscientific. I pay taxes and I pay for my government to be honest and truthful.
Please tell the whole story. The last people to die from milk died from pasteurized milk at Whittier farms in 2007, not from raw milk. The FDA and NIH website states very clearly that the most allergenic food in America is milk, that is, pasteurized milk. Why would a mom give her child a highly allergenic food. It triggers asthma and causes eczema. Moms have learned better.
I suggest you state all the facts. Start with acknowledgment that there are two kinds of raw milk in America and that raw milk from CAFO operations can be very dangerous because it is intended for pasteurization and should be pasteurized. Then go on to explain that states have enacted laws for clean raw milk that is consumed by hundreds of thousands of people every week and people love it. The bias at the CDC is so clear. We have experienced the truth of clean raw milk in California. You are picking a fight you will lose because moms are smarter than you give them credit for.
Please make corrections to the CDC website to reflect accurate science and the data that is included in your databases. It is completely false to state that raw milk is more dangerous than pasteurized milk and then go on to make a case based on cherry picked data and not counting numbers of sick people, but instead counting number of outbreaks. One outbreak in the 1990s had almost two hundred thousand people sickened from pasteurized milk in one incident alone, yet this was counted as one outbreak. According to the Cornell study performed on CDC data, there were 1100 illnesses caused by raw milk between 1973 and 2009. There were 422,000 illnesses caused by pasteurized milk. No deaths from raw milk and at least fifty deaths from pasteurized milk or pasteurized cheese—the CDC left out the twenty-nine or more people that died from the pasteurized Jalisco cheese listeria incident in 1985.
Just as a piece of advice, the CDC website is perhaps the greatest pro-raw milk educational tool on the internet. It contrasts so sharply with the truth, the studies and the human experience and evidence that the reader is left with just one conclusion: It is a highly biased Food Inc. lie. The CDC should take notice that if it endeavors to be a respected agency of science, the truth matters.
Mark McAfee, Founder, Organic Pastures Dairy Company LLC. Fresno, California
Retired Fresno County Medical Educator & EMS PARAMEDIC
This letter was reprinted in the Summer 2012 edition of Wise Traditions, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Update December 12, 2014
A reader commented: “Can you provide the reference/link for this Cornell study? ‘According to the Cornell study performed on CDC data, there were 1100 illnesses caused by raw milk between 1973 and 2009. There were 422,000 illnesses caused by pasteurized milk. No deaths from raw milk and at least fifty deaths from pasteurized milk or pasteurized cheese.’ I’ve tried a bunch of web searches but can’t find it. Thanks.”
Webmaster contacted Mark McAfee, who replied: “Unfortunately, Cornell took down this page years ago. I took a screen shot of it and saved it for my use. I also summarized the data from all sources because the CDC refuses to reach back to include the CA 1985 Jalisco Cheese (pasteurized cheese) incident that killed 49 people. I also included 8 deaths listed on a pediatrics website that were attributed to severe and fatal allergic reactions to properly pasteurized milk. This is the best estimate that I have been able to come up with.”
The documents Mark sent are here: