In today’s paper, I was disgusted to read that two school-age children, a toddler and a 70-year old man were victims of an E.coli outbreak this week caused by raw milk from a Minnesota dairy. The toddler is currently hospitalized with a serious condition related to the infection (hemolytic uremic syndrome) which can cause kidney failure and death. These are unnecessary illnesses and people are putting themselves and their children at risk by drinking raw milk.
Pasteurization is the process of heating up food to kill any bacteria it might contain. Louis Pasteur first tested the process in 1864 and it is perfectly safe. However, some people who drink raw milk feel that beneficial proteins and bacteria are destroyed during the heating process.
According to the Health Department, several dozen people are sickened by raw milk every year in Minnesota. Unpasteurized milk can contain the live pathogens, or bad bacteria, E. coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter. Most people are careful handling and cooking meat to avoid the very same pathogens. Why they wouldn’t mind drinking them is a mystery to me.
Beneficial, or “good” bacteria can be found in most yogurt and many companies now add beneficial bacteria to other dairy items, including pasteurized milk. I suspect that many of milk’s other beneficial heat-sensitive proteins can be found in other, safe foods as well. Even raw milk cheese made correctly is safer than raw milk, because it contains other microbes that inhibit the growth of pathogens.
Maybe people don’t realize it, but giving their child a glass of raw milk is as risky as feeding them a raw hamburger. I’m glad to hear the state is cracking down.
Last night, as 39 of my fellow Minnesota bloggers and I gathered to pack food for “Feed My Starving Children” , we were asked the question, “what is the difference between hungry and starving?” The dictionary defines hunger as experiencing a desire or need for food, while starving is defined as: to suffer or die from extreme or prolonged lack of food. In fact, when you are starving, your body actually begins metabolizing, or eating itself. If you don’t get food, you will die. The only way to reverse the process is to give a starving body nutrients with which to rebuild itself.
We mixed together soybeans, chicken-flavored vitamins, vegetables and rice in small plastic bags to be sent to another country, possibly Haiti, to feed starving people. People like us. Children like our children. Together, in less than an hour, our group, along with three or four others, packed 13,824 meals: enough food to feed 38 people for a year. It is astonishing that so little effort can change, and possibly even save, so many lives. To learn more about Feed My Starving Children and how you can help, visit their website.