Legal action in Ontario and British Columbia to reinforce bans against raw milk sales has won support from the Dairy Processors Association of Canada.
“Human consumption of raw milk was one of the major sources of foodborne illnesses and a cause of infant mortality before pasteurization became widely utilized,” DPAC said in a statement. “Dairy processors urge all Canadians to avoid the serious risk of illness from drinking raw milk.”
It noted that last summer Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued an advisory reminding “Canadians not to drink raw milk because it could contain bacteria that can make you seriously ill.” Salmonella, E. coli and listeria “can lead to very serious health conditions ranging from fever, vomiting and diarrhea to life-threatening kidney failure, miscarriage and death. Children, pregnant women, the elderly and individuals with compromised immune systems are particularly at risk.”
It’s for these reasons the federal Food and Drug Regulations require all milk available for sale in Canada be pasteurized, the advisory said. “Pasteurization kills the organisms that cause disease while keeping the nutritional properties of milk intact. Raw milk has not been treated to make it safe. It also is not fortified with vitamin D. Pasteurized milk is an important food and contains many nutrients essential for good health.”
Raw milk cheese is considered safe because the manufacturing process for cheese helps to eliminate many pathogens found in raw milk.
The federal advisory noted that some people think there are health benefits to raw milk. “However, any possible benefits are far outweighed by the serious risk of illness.”
In Ontario, the provincial government is appealing a decision by a justice of the peace on Jan. 21 to acquit raw milk crusader Michael Schmidt on 19 charges of distributing raw milk and raw milk products. No date has been set for the appeal.
Justice of the Peace Paul Kowarsky said Schmidt did not break the laws because the 150 people receiving raw milk from him are part owners of the 30 cows on his farm. They pay him to manage the animals.
In B. C., the Fraser Valley Health Authority announced in late March that it’s going to court for a permanent injunction to halt sales of raw milk from a Chilliwack-area dairy farm that bills itself as a dairy. Home on the Range sells its raw milk with a warning that it’s not intended for consumption.
Public health officials say unpasteurized milk “is causing a health hazard.”