The Dairy Work group of the Illinois Department of Public Health will meet again via phone in June 11. This is, like all the others, an open meeting which means anyone can call in and listen. When I get details about that call in number I will share it with all of you. In the meantime I will continue to use Mondays as the day to focus on Raw Milk in Illinois.
Today's topic...the 3% who drink raw milk.
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In the issue of raw milk here in the Land Of Lincoln few statistics can be agreed upon by either side. In fact I can only think of one and that is the number of adults who consume raw milk in the US. For some time, the CDC, The Westin A Price Folks, we the raw milk farmers and IDPH have all been using 3% as the guideline.
Some of the discussions at the May 1 mtg with IDPH's Dairy Work Group used this number when calculating the number of folks who drink raw milk in Illinois. You might recall that there are over 12 million in Illinois so 3% is roughly 400,000 raw milk drinkers.
But, as we proceed with our work to convince IDPH raw milk is safe and rules regarding its production and sales should be lessened if not eliminated, I made a commitment to myself that any stats I referred to had to come from valid sources.
So where did this 3% figure originate? I thought I saw it in an article, I was sure I heard Sally Fallon Morrell of WAP use it in her rebuttal last year to the FDA and I know I heard IDPH Director Molly Lamb refer to it as well on May 1. But what was its origin?
So I did an Internet search.
I found the same 3% quoted in several articles and used on both sides of the argument but no one stated their source either verbally or in writing. So I called CDC (The Center for Disease Control) myself.
The woman who answered the phone had never heard that statistic before so she did a search while I waited but she found nothing. With my further request she completed a research form and sent the question up the ladder. It took several more days but I did get a response via email and the Link to The Article recently published in the Journal of Consumer Affairs 2013. It was not exactly what I expected.
The article was written by several people who work for the CDC, US Department of Ag, Department of Public Health (Tennessee and Minnesota) and was titled "Characteristics of Consumers of Unpasteurized Milk in The United States"
The research took place over several years and focused on several questions to the respondents, one of which was "Did you drink any unpasteurized milk in the last 7 days?" The authors also asked questions about income, education, living arrangements, other "risky food" eating behaviors because...big surprise...they were not really interested in the number who consumed raw milk or WHY they consumed it but they wanted to prove that only the poor and ignorant consume raw milk.
I wonder what the THREE attorneys and two PHYSICIANS (one who represented the Chicago Medical Society) who testified in support of raw milk at the May 1 meeting with IDPH ,would say to that conclusion?
In order to get the full impact of this comical and totally one sided research paper you really do have to read the whole thing. Although 14 pages long it is worth the time...and the laughs. And the next time you hear someone pass around the statistic that 3% of the population drink raw milk...you'll know the rest of the story.