Got raw milk? CDC says it could make you sick
Darcy Wintonyk, ctvbc.ca
Published Wednesday, January 6, 2010 12:41PM PST
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control and provincial Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport have joined forces to warn consumers about the dangers of drinking unpasteurized milk in what appears to be the latest crackdown of a small Chilliwack, B.C., raw milk dairy.
The B.C. CDC issued a release Tuesday advising consumers to throw away any unpasteurized dairy from 'Home on the Range' after five samples from the farm's products tested positive for fecal contamination.
The products, including raw milk, yogurt, cream, butter and cream cheese, were seized in December as part of an ongoing investigation by Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health, as well as the B.C. CDC Public Health Labs.
Health officials say the samples mean products were contaminated with germs from the bowels of animals or humans.
"The risk of disease from consuming these unpasteurized products is very high and can cause serious illness in people, especially young children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems," the release said.
The sale of raw milk is illegal in Canada, but raw dairy coops sidestep the law by allowing members to buy into the organization -- making them part owners of the animals that produce the dairy.
The Home on the Range coop, which has 365 shareholders who own stakes in 20 Jersey dairy cows, distributes raw milk in various locations in the Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland.
A message on the farm's website says members believe that "raw milk consumption offers superior health benefits that far outweigh any potential health risks that could arise from an unsanitary production environment."
Fraser Health has issued two cease and desist orders to the farm to stop distributing milk for human consumption -- one in fall 2008 and one last month. Vancouver Coastal Health officials also shut down a number of raw milk depots in December, including Ethical Kitchen in North Vancouver.
The products tested were distributed at locations including Ethical Kitchen, Controversial Kitchen and Ayurveda in Vancouver.
Unpasteurized milk, often termed raw milk, is consumed directly from the cow, sheep or goat without any process to destroy disease-causing bacteria.
The CDC says they have documented cases of children becoming sick after consuming raw dairy "who were given it by well-intentioned parents."
The agency refutes claims that raw milk produces any quantifiable health benefits over pasteurized products.