Lately I’ve noticed that a lot of people seem to HATE milk.
Apparently this stems from an ongoing attack against milk, mostly from fitness personalities and raw food / vegan lifestyle advocates.
Typically, the anti-milk talk looks something like this:
Here’s some of the nasty surprises hidden in your milk:
- Synthetic growth hormone
- Dangerous Antibiotics
Plus, did you know that Pasteurization kills most of the enzymes in your milk rendering it practically indigestible?
Now here’s my issue:
This seems like a classic case of Parrot Phenomena…
People just echoing what other people said because it sounds good.
However, whether you are a Journalist or a Scientist..you know it’s of UTMOST IMPORTANCE to always check your references.
After all no one wants to be caught up in Food libel lawsuit.
(In many US States it is illegal to disseminate misinformation about foods…think of back when Oprah
Winfrey was sued by Texas beef producers for questioning the safety of hamburger meat.)
I mean, if it’s true, it’s true…but you need to be able to back it up.
Now I’m not a big milk drinker, but I’m not exactly an anti-milk person either.
(To tell you the truth, this just isn’t an area of my life put a lot of though into.)
So this is what I did..I contacted experts in Dairy Science and the part of the Canadian Government responsible for regulating Milk.
Then I contacted the Dairy Association, and then some ‘Dairy Industry insiders’ (people who work in the industry but do not speak on the industry’s behalf)
Within days I received several excellent responses.
I then cross-referenced these responses with the available scientific literature, and government regulations.
Here is what I have found:
A very big part of the reason for every one’s confusion is that the laws and regulations differ from Country to Country.
So the laws in Canada are different then the laws in the US and the laws in Europe or Australia.
(part of the problem with the on-line world…we’re a global community, but our food is not)
In Canada, Antibiotic use in Milk are completely monitored with zero tolerance.
The milk from any animal being treated for an infection like mastitis needs to be withheld from the milk supply for a specified withholding time (dependent on the drug, but typically between between 72 and 96 hours) after the last treatment.
Additionally and as a measure of control, a sample of individual producer bulk tank milk is taken at the time of milk pick-up. That milk sample is tested for milk components and presence of antibiotics in individual farmer’s milk. If presence of antibiotics is discovered, milk is discarded from the food chain and hefty penalties apply to the producer.
There are huge penalties for antibiotic residue in milk.
Canada does not allow the use of growth hormone (BST – bovine somatotropin). So in Canadian milk, this is a non-issue.
So already much of the information being spread about milk is factually INCORRECT in the country of Canada (however, this doesn’t mean it’s incorrect where you live).
The concept of milk being ‘full of pus’ is absurd.
Yes, there is an allowable Somatic cell count (Typically neutrophils), but this doesn’t mean “pus” (there’s somatic cells in human breast milk too). It’s true that the US allows a much higher somatic cell count that most countries (including Canada)…but this does not mean that your milk is streaking with pus.
And while it is very important to monitor the Somatic cell count of milk the use of the term pus is pejorative, basically….scaremongering.
Lastly, I can’t help but wonder if the people who are scared of the somatic cell count of milk eat meat…seeing as I’m pretty sure that the meat from an animal would be particularly high in somatic cells.
Bottom line of this fact is that, YES it sounds gross. YES it is an important part of the milk production system that needs to be monitored closely. And YES it makes me a little uncomfortable knowing that the amounts allowed in the US are much higher then in other countries. But these facts are also being used as SCAREMONGERING – Using terms and imagery to emotionally influence your opinion of milk.
In this sense I think the tactics being used are far worse than the actual item being discussed.
As for the idea of milk being “practically indigestible”, there is an easily accessible amount of research showing amino acids entering the blood stream after ingestion of milk, of insulin levels increasing after the ingestion of milk, blood glucose levels increasing, Calcium levels increasing as well as many hormones altering in response to the components of milk entering the blood. If the components of milk were not making it into the blood stream this would not occur.
Bottom line: I have no idea whether or not milk is good for you, but its fine for me. And, the laws that govern milk where you live may be different than the laws where other people live.
Regarding things like filtration and pasteurization, Here is an important fact to consider. Well it may or may not change the nutritional quality of milk, it does protect a food supply for over 330 Million people (Canada and US)…
While slightly less nutritious milk doesn’t sound great, salmonella, e.coli etc sound and feel much, much worse.
You may not drink milk, or only drink organic or even raw milk, and you have your reasons, but there are a lot of people who drink or are only able to drink normal grocery store milk, I believe keeping them safe if important.
Milk isn’t perfect (I hate the fact that typical cream has dextrose, carrageenen and locus bean gum in it), but it’s not ‘evil’ at least, not to me.
Bottom line: This post wasn’t meant to address the 2 million reasons people seem to have for drinking or not drinking milk, just the four I mention above.
In my opinion, based on what I have learned, You don’t need to drink milk, and I don’t believe you need to avoid milk either, it’s a food like any other food – The poison is in the dose.
Lastly, if you write on-line, check your facts. I’d hate to see anyone in a food libel suite just because you were too lazy to actually check the information you are sending out to millions of people around the world (The key here being around the world…what’s true in your backyard may not be true in mine)…hence, the title of this post.
Here’s a good way to enjoy milk (if you want to) and lower the risk of any of these bad things…Eat less.
I once had breakfast with Pro Body Builder who drank over 10 GLASSES OF MILK during breakfast alone.
I might have 10 glasses over a week or two week period.
Simply Eating less (and taking breaks Eat Stop Eat style) make a lot of these ‘is it good for you or bad for you arguments’ obsolete.
The poison is in the dose.
**Note: The point of of the post is to share what I have learned about milk. I’m all for healthy discussion, but I will not be responding to any “Milk sucks, you suck” comments – let’s keep this civil.