PASTEURIZATION: Pulling the Plug on Scientific Fallacies Undergirding Our Industrial Food and Drug Culture

By Linn Cohen-Cole
December 31, 2008

The terrible things happening to non-corporate farming and pure food rest, oddly enough, on liberal assumptions about science and their trust flowing from those assumptions. That trust leads not to better choices for all Americans but to mandatory regulations and to programs which have destructive consequences for farmers and food and our health.

It seems the only way to stop those destructive consequences, then, is to begin to undo the assumptions and misplaced trust in the idea that humanity can eliminate dangerous threats as well as solve large human health and food problems through the application of more and more complex “scientific” technology.

Pasteurization of milk is pointed to as a major public health success. The public appears to believe that milk itself was a problem which modern science finally “made safe.” That is an entirely false understanding of both the history and science of milk.

The actual history of pasteurization had nothing to do with making milk from normal dairy farms safe. Pasteurization was a response to the urban industrialization of milk production. That is, pasteurization was only a response a very specific milk – industrial milk. [All emphases in the quoted material below are my own.]

The War of 1812 with England resulted in the permanent cutting off of the whiskey supply America procured from the British West Indies. As a result, the domestic liquor industry was born, and by 1814, grain distilleries began to spring up in the cities as well as the country. Distillery owners then began housing cows next to the distilleries and feeding hot slop, the waste product of whiskey making, directly to the animals as it poured off the stills. Thus was born the slop or swill milk system.

Slop is of little value in fattening cattle; it is unnatural food for them, and makes them diseased and emaciated. But when slop was plentifully supplied, cows yielded an abundance of milk. Diseased cows were milked in an unsanitary manner. The individuals doing the milking were often dirty, sick or both. Milk pails and other equipment were usually dirty. Such milk sometimes led to disease. …

Physicians in cities throughout the country considered raw milk essential in the treatment of their patients; they worked together to certify dairies for the production of clean raw milk. This resulted in the availability of safe raw milk from regulated dairies. Initially, from around 1890 to 1910, the movements for certified raw milk and pasteurization coexisted and in many ways even complemented one another. Click here.

Notice there was a two-tier milk system. Raw milk dairies only needed to be certified as clean and doctors actually treated diseases with that natural milk. But industrial milk required pasteurization of its dirty and inferior product to make it safe enough to drink, and it was not used for medical benefits.
Our public school science classes teach that Louis Pasteur invented the pasteurization of milk. That is untrue. He developed pasteurization for preserving wine and beer. He was not responsible for applying it to milk.

That was done at the end of the 1800s as a temporary solution until filthy urban dairies could find a way to produce cleaner milk. But instead of cleaning up milk production, dairies used pasteurization as a way to cover up dirty milk. As milk became more mass produced, pasteurization became necessary for large dairies to increase their profits. So the public then had to be convinced that pasteurized milk was safer than raw milk. Soon raw milk consumption was blamed for all sorts of diseases and outbreaks until the public was finally convinced that pasteurized milk was superior to milk in its natural state. [Note the food industry’s power to overturn a “scientific” reality and impact public health for over a century, still not yet righted.]

… [T]he truth is that there are far more risks from drinking pasteurized milk than unpasteurized milk. Raw milk naturally contains healthy bacteria that inhibit the growth of undesirable and dangerous organisms. Without these friendly bacteria, pasteurized milk is more susceptible to contamination. Click here.

Pasteurization:

* Kills the friendly bacteria,
* Greatly diminishes the nutrient content of the milk
* Has up to a 66 percent loss of vitamins A, D and E.
* Has a vitamin C loss usually exceeding 50 percent. Heat affects water soluble vitamins and can make them 38 to 80 percent less effective.
* Vitamins B6 and B12 are completely destroyed during pasteurization.
* Destroys beneficial enzymes, antibodies and hormones.
* Destroys lipase (an enzyme that breaksdown fat), which impairs fat metabolism and the ability to properly absorb fat soluble vitamins A and D.
* Diminishes vitamin D content so the dairy industry fortifies their milk with a synthetic vitamin D [which does not work Click here];
* Makes calcium and other minerals less available.

Complete destruction of phosphatase is one method of testing to see if milk has been adequately pasteurized. Phosphatase is essential for the absorption of calcium.

Ultrapasteurization involves higher temperatures, longer treatment times, gives a longer shelf life and renders the milk virtually sterile. The industry justifies this saying that microorganisms have become heat resistant to ordinary pasteurization. [Why are micro-organisms on the industrial becoming resistant, even to heat?]Click here.

The Lancet in 1937 reported on a study of a group orphanages in which 14 cases of tuberculosis occurred in the boys fed pasteurized milk, only one in those fed raw milk. … and in certain institutions children brought up on raw milk had perfect teeth and no decay.

Very little research was done after about 1950 on the relative nutrient content of raw versus pasteurized milk. The move toward universal pasteurization was in full swing and interest in raw milk was waning in agricultural colleges increasingly supported by dairy industry and agribusiness funding. Click here.

Pasteurization is not the story of marvelous modern science making an unsafe food safe. It is the story of a new “technology” being used to mitigate the excesses of the industrial contamination of a centrally important and incredible food and leaving that food without much of its value. Yet, today, raw milk dairy farmers have been almost entirely displaced by an industrial monopoly over milk (that is then degraded in many ways), using the public’s misdirected fear of (industrial) contamination as the means.

“Advertising may be described as the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it.”– Stephen Leacock
Industry hegemony allows for misinformation through advertising, control of media, and influence over government and institutions, making it possible to do three things simultaneously:

1. Greatly encourage public fear of contamination from raw milk
Suddenly, we have government raids on raw milk dairy farmers happening across the country, though people had not been falling ill from raw milk and customers value it highly enough to go far out of their way to buy it. Fear is created, the false history of pasteurization is revived, and it “appears” the public is saved once again from danger! The same raids are now occurring in Canada. Click here.

2. That fear aids in pointing away from an actual source of danger – industrial milk,
industrial milk to which the public has been limited, comes from cows:

a. Eating genetically engineered grains heavily laced with pesticides,
b. Living abnormally confined lives without feeding on grasses,
c. Given antibiotics to cover the diseases they are getting,
d. If they are injected with rBGH, the milk is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer.

“As detailed in a January 1996 report in the prestigious International Journal of Health Services, rBGH milk differs from natural milk chemically, nutritionally, pharmacologically and immunologically, besides being contaminated with pus and antibiotics resulting from mastitis induced by the biotech hormone. More critically, rBGH milk is supercharged with high levels of abnormally potent IGF-1, up 10 times the levels in natural milk and over 10 times more potent.” Click here.

All of those deficiencies and problems are true before the milk is even pasteurized and none of which pasteurization corrects.

And then finally, this industrially degraded milk is pasteurized, at which point the necessary bacteria for absorbing what remained of the milk’s nutrients and minerals are killed off.

3. Both while heavily promoting the degraded industrial milk. The inferior industrial milk is delightfully masked by millions of dollars in advertising for Happy Cow campaigns (the milk industry is being sued for the campaign’s lies) and for other “flashy makeovers.” Click here.

The dairy industry’s resurgence is attracting mainstream media attention. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published an extensive feature on milk’s “flashy makeover.” The article, which was picked up by papers in other major markets, outlined the industry’s efforts to make milk a more dazzling drink: colorful plastic bottles, kid-friendly flavors, and distribution in fast-food restaurants and school vending machines. The story also pointed out the success of these efforts, including the increase in milk sales at Wendy’s and McDonald’s restaurants that account for 150 million pounds of fluid milk a year.(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) Click here.

The California Milk Processor Board is now targeting teens:

“Goodby, Silverstein and Partners created a page on MySpace to promote White Gold and the Calcium Twins, a team of new fictitious characters turned rock stars who spread their love of and devotion to milk through music. TV spots, print ads and PR will also support the promotion.

“The Milk Processor Education Program … is funded by the nation’s milk processors … committed to increasing fluid milk consumption.” Click here.

For the public to have to have the true and only food security of a growing, not shrinking, population of small local farmers, would require a thorough roll back of all oppressive regulations our small farmers are now trapped in and should never have had to bear. Click here. But to accomplish that, liberals would need to begin by confronting their:

1. Misunderstanding of the history of pasteurization – pasteurization was only ever needed for industrial excesses, never for non-industrial dairy farming where bacteria was not a problem but a critically necessary aspect of the milk;

2. Misplaced faith in pasteurization to deliver a worthwhile food
Pasteurization does nothing to correct a host of problems inherent in industrializing milk production;

3. Mistaken fear of the bacteria in milk – bacteria is a necessary and highly valuable aspect of milk which aid in digestion of milk’s nutrients and minerals. “L-casei immunitas,” an invented name advertised as a very special addition to yogurt that will aid in digestion, is nothing more than lactobacillus which comes for free and in abundance in unpasteurized milk. So, the very bacteria the industry encourages the public to fear suddenly is touted as a “new” scientific contribution when they isolate and sell it themselves.

Upton’s Sinclair’s book, The Jungle, was misunderstood by the public as well. It was solely about the industrialization of meat, but the public’s fear and outrage have been used by industry/government to impose massive and inappropriate regulations on small local farmers – though the industrial conditions Sinclair reported didn’t and still don’t exist with them. Those regulations have taken from farmers the right to slaughter animals on their own property and to sell to neighbors, something that they had done for centuries without problems. Those regulations, in fact, have centralized production further and thus compounded the very problems Lewis sought to address. Rather than applying regulations ONLY at the source of the problem – industry – government, guided by industry, has crushed farmers outside the industrial system with regulations while relaxing standards for industry and failing to spend tax dollars to even inspect the still existing intolerable conditions in corporate contaminated animal factories, disease-ridden feedlots, and immense and filthy slaughterhouses.

Public fear which originated solely from industrial food contamination is used by industry to impose industrial-sized “food safety” regulations on small clean raw milk dairy farms and in this way regulations become an effective (and unseen weapon) against the milk industry’s competition – real farmers and the whole, nutrient-dense, healthy food they produce.

The fear rests on not knowing the history of or scientific impact of pasteurization on milk, and thus missing its clever misdirection. The fear thus supports raids and intolerable regulations on small farmers we need for food security – until they give up. As raids increase and industry continues to eliminate farmers, the public is taught to believe they are being protected while they are actually being increasingly locked into dangerous and inferior industry food.

Human beings have depended on milk since before cultivation of crops. It went wrong once “modern industry” took over and began degrading all the normal factors cows need to produce good milk – free movement outdoors in sunlight and rich grasses to feed on. But the industrialization of milk, like the industrialization of all food, treats all parts (animals being but one) as an endless series of items to cut corners on in order to squeeze out maximum profits. The more that can be short-cutted or even eliminated and the cheaper the inputs, the better for profits, the worse for the food, and the worse for public health.

Dairy farmers producing raw milk on small farms are not cutting those corners but continuing to reproduce the natural conditions cows need to be healthy and thus to produce healthy milk and thus through it to provide health to the public.

One need only look at raw milk’s protective value against type 1 diabetes, for educated people to begin questioning a strongly held “modern science” truism about the dangers of bacteria. That view is proving to be simplistic and even dangerous.

“The findings, reported in the journal Nature, support the so-called “hygiene hypothesis” – the theory that a lack of exposure to parasites, bacteria and viruses in the developed world may lead to increased risk of diseases like allergies, asthma, and other disorders of the immune system.” Click here.

That is, “science” can be wrong. And not only can it be wrong but it has been slow to catch up with “backward’ things human beings have depended upon for millennia. Consider another milk and the same mistaken leaning toward industry over what was normal – “science” promoting bottle feeding over breast feeding, another example of “medical science” misguidedly promoting an industrial product as a “more hygienic technology.” That was abysmally wrong scientifically but supported billions in sales of industrial baby formula. And recent “science” coming out of the FDA (our leading “food safety” department) hid evidence of melamine in baby formula in the US, and when confronted with the evidence, promptly created a standard defining it as safe. Click here.

So, to look at pasteurization as a miracle of modern science which produces “good,” safe milk is a serious fallacy. It elevates a mere “technology” with its own serious limitations into a “whitewashed” magic bullet, ignoring its true negative downstream consequences – actually damaging milk in the process of “cleaning it up.” While it saved people from some of the worst effects of industrializing dairy “production,” it eliminated the health-giving value of milk and allowed industry to sell a “cleaned up” but highly diminished “product.”

And all of that ignores its being manipulated for economic and political uses – the destruction of real dairy farmers, the entrapment of the public into ONLY industrial milk, and the use of “health” regulations to massively undermine constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties.

The USDA, harking back to the misunderstood history of where the diseases originated (on the industrial side) is busy finishing off eliminating non-corporate American raw dairy farmers – the Amish, the Mennonite and others. Raw milk sales had been outlawed or severely restricted in virtually every state, and the total number of farms has shrunk to less than 2 million; less than 100,000 have milk cows.

The story of what’s happened to quality milk is same as the story of what’s happened to America’s farmers. Both have been mostly eliminated, marginalized by a culture that has allowed corporations to promote the big lie that the processing of natural foods has nothing to do with the epidemic of disease that cripples our society. Corporate spokespersons for the food, drug and medical industries have used billions of dollars – a drop in the bucket compared to their profits – to convince most of us that this rape has been carried out for our own good. “Food safety,” cry the corporations and their media and government lackeys. Farmers who would sell fresh raw milk and meat raised and slaughtered on the farm would endanger the public.

Meanwhile, as Eric Schlosser has so elegantly written of the nation’s commercial food supply in Fast Food Nation, “There’s shit in the meat.” The Center for Disease control estimates that over a quarter of all Americans come down with food poisoning each year.

Meanwhile all foods rich in cholesterol are maligned as dangerous. … The best foods in the world come from healthy animals. … The studies that purport to show that cholesterol in foods is dangerous have been manipulated, misinterpreted and propagandized by the drug industry to dupe doctors and the public into buying billions of dollars worth of dangerous drugs. Every year, corporations and a wealthy few grow richer, while many Americans struggle and many more just get by. Thirty-five million people now live below the government’s admittedly low poverty line. We can only guess how many millions would love to have a small family farm if it could support even a modest lifestyle. Click here.

It is strange to think that the political and literal health of this country depends on urban liberals letting go of pasteurization as a monument to modern science, and seeing instead how false “science” by used by a monopoly to help frighten the public into imposing regulations which eliminate political freedoms and in doing so, are eliminating those who bring real things “to the table.” The regulations are couched as “food safety” but the reality is that “hygiene” has been used before for totalitarian purposes and is being used now by a filthy food industry to destroy farmers who are, in fact, the most hygienic sector of our food system. The regulations are massive, discriminatory and anti-democratic. They rest on a fallacious trust in science, which sees it as a cure all and not as a mere technology, capble of creating its own creator of problems (which a true understanding of pasteurization shows it to be), and blinds people how it can be manipulated (which the raids on real milk dairy farmers side by side with glowing industrial ads for degraded milk industry prove that it is).

Undoing the lock that pasteurization has had on the beliefs of educated people, and letting them see who it serves and how their own fear is being used against them, can open up the possibility of actually rebuilding real local farming in this country. And dairy farming is central to accomplishing that.

“The dairy cow doesn’t ask for much but she asks every day. People who are creating wealth with a cow either are hard working and reliable or they get that way in a hurry. The need to milk the cow twice a day determined the location of churches; people had to be able to walk there and back without disruption to the schedules of cows. It is certainly no coincidence that such a large number of our finest American statesmen were born on farms. Important virtues are nurtured on the farm, including a graphic understanding of the relationship between working and eating. I have come to understand and accept the words of that great 19th Century agricultural essayist, William Cobbett: ‘When you have a cow, you have it all.'” [vii]

Seeing through a false glorification of pasteurization is deeply democratic.

What has all this to do with raw milk? Just this: the same repressive, reactionary forces that have concentrated power and wealth into the hands of a few have outlawed raw milk and destroyed the ability of small farms to survive and thrive – and [simultaneously] ushered in the epidemic of heart disease, cancer and other chronic problems plaguing the modern world [and making corporations rich].

Raw milk is the key to the health crisis, the farm crisis, the economic crisis, the small town crisis, even the environmental crisis, the political crisis and the educational crisis. Farmers who could freely advertise and sell raw milk and its products, and fresh quality meats, free of government intervention and hassles, could prosper, and their communities could blossom. The restoration of our individual and national health could become reality.”

The public is not living on real milk or even reality but on the milk industry’s Happy Cow ads falsely suggesting their (industrialized) cows live decent lives while co-opting the reality lived only by small dairy farmers’ cows, the same dairy farmers being wiped out by the milk industry.

Non-corporate farmers raising unconfined healthy cows living outdoors and eating a normal diet of grass are producing the only whole and FULLY nutritious milk.

THAT is the lesson that the history of pasteurization needs to teach.

Those farmers were functioning without industry-contamination issues since long before pasteurization and deserve and NEED freedom from industry-sized “public health” laws that were created to stop industry’s worse excesses. One size does not fill all. If it did, we wouldn’t have lost so many dairy farmers while the industry side continues to grow, despite all its excesses and abuses. Click here.

Regulations written by industry are eliminating small farmers. Certification for cleanliness is fine for small farmers but million dollar building and equipment standards, massive paperwork, global tracking systems, industry-imposed standards that in themselves eliminate normal food, (click here) – are not. They fit only corporations. They are unnecessary and have been and are meant to be literal threat to our fast disappearing small farms. Testing for diseases is fine as well, but by independent labs, not government labs controlled by agribusiness.

The limited understanding of the history of pasteurization and of its impact on food has played into the hands of the powerful food industry. People have been taught to believe a lie – they are being saved by this process, when in fact, they are losing out. And in having faith in pasteurization based on scientific misconceptions, the public ends by promoting industry’s destruction of what is left of our real farmers and their healthier food, and all possibility of local, sustainable agriculture ever existing.

Pasteurization is the first of three basic “wonders of modern medical science” assumptions that liberals must revisit in light of its full impact on food, its use in the service an industrial monopoly, and its false relation to food safety. It must be seen in its true historical and industrial context if we are to save real farming, real food, and, thus, ourselves.

In this context, there is something you can do immediately to try to protect American farmers from the mother of all regulations that will destroy our farmers – NAIS. Click here

Farmers are asking the public to please vote against it. Please help them in this small way and and ask your friends and family to as well. Thank you.

While I have no faith left that Obama is sincere about saving American farmers and supporting sustainable agriculture after he selected Vilsack, an Monsanto crony, I have immense faith in farmers themselves and liberals believe in listening to the people involved and not governments or corporations to learn what is really going on. So, vote with a will and with increasing concern for YOUR American farmers.

The Obama Transition Team has set up a section called “Open for Questions” on the official website. They have not specified the deadline for submitting or voting on questions, but said they will respond to the top issues “in the new year.”

Step 1: If you are not already signed up for the site, register at: https://www.change.org/admin/sign_up

Step 2: Go to http://www.change.org/ideas/view/stop_nais Be sure to click the box labeled “vote!” to the left of the Stop NAIS! Simply leaving a comment does not count as a vote.

10 responses to “PASTEURIZATION: Pulling the Plug on Scientific Fallacies Undergirding Our Industrial Food and Drug Culture

  1. This is an excellent article! Very good research and information here.

    However, I don’t agree with the repeated use of the word “liberal” in this piece. It feels a little condescending and derogatory to me… as if they are the sole cause of the situation.

    “The terrible things happening to non-corporate farming and pure food rest, oddly enough, on liberal assumptions about science and their trust flowing from those assumptions. ”

    “But to accomplish that, liberals would need to begin by confronting their: …”

    This is the definition of “liberal” that I found:

    Main Entry: 2liberal
    Function: noun
    Date: 1820
    : a person who is liberal: as a : one who is open-minded or not strict in the observance of orthodox, traditional, or established forms or ways b capitalized : a member or supporter of a liberal political party c : an advocate or adherent of liberalism especially in individual rights”

    I understand that for the last 11 months the Democrats (a.k.a. liberals) have been the majority holders of political positions in this country. However, the raw milk/pasteurization issue has been raging for years, even during times of Republican majority. Of course, I realize you know this.

    Perhaps I’m reading too much into it, or misunderstanding your intent.

    What I do know is that I 100% support small farmers, purchase raw milk for my family every week, am extremely dismayed at the direction our government (whether liberal or conservative) has taken in supporting Big Ag! And yes, I am a proud liberal who considers myself to embody all three parts of the definition given above. 🙂

  2. I agree, if liberal politics have nothing to do with misinformation about milk, the mentioning of “liberal” throughout your informative research will end up hurting the cause for raw milk…stop that!! I am a conservative person both politically and personally and I think this is ridiculous!

  3. I echo the above sentiments. Terrific article, but “liberals” are not to blame here, it’s way more complicated than that. Every senator or congressman who has ever voted for a farm bill has something to do with our agricultural policy. Many captains of industry have used bad science and misinformation to sell their products to the public and their priorities to Congress, through their well-paid lobbyists. This is not a left-right issue. Putting it in those terms only muddies the waters. Otherwise, terrific job!

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  8. The issue has gone to a point where raids increase and industry continues to eliminate farmers, the public is taught to believe they are being protected while they are actually being increasingly locked into dangerous and inferior industry food.
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