RAWMI Ripple - May 2019

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May 2019 Edition

Dear Friend,

Congratulations to Jewel Hill Farms in Marshall, North Carolina for becoming the 18th RAWMI Listed dairy! Jewel Hill Farms is a herdshare dairy, following in the path of The Family Cow dairy in having their own on-farm laboratory to test their milk for coliforms and Standard plate count. Welcome to the RAWMI family!  

Jewel Hill Farms is on the web at: www.facebook.com/JewelHillFarms/

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New RAWMI Website

RAWMI has a new, streamlined website!  Our new site features a simpler menu, easy access to loads of great information, and lots of gorgeous photos from RAWMI Listed farms.

Explore the new website here: www.rawmilkinstitute.org

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RAWMI Listed Farmers Zoom Meeting

RAWMI hosted its first ZOOM video conference with Listed Farmers on April 22, 2019. This meeting allowed the Listed Farmers to meet each other and the new RAWMI Board. We are a community that helps one another through mentoring and support, and this meeting was one more step in building bridges in the raw milk community of Listed Farmers. 

Eight Listed Farmers from all around North America attended the meeting. The Listed Farmers provided feedback to RAWMI on how we can best support them going forward, and they exchanged information about a variety of topics including increased cheese yields and the need for support to legalize the sale of raw butter across state lines.  RAWMI now plans to host meetings with Listed Farmers on a quarterly basis.

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RAWMI Support for Statistical Rigor in Toronto Case

This spring, the RAWMI board took a bold step to advance our research mission for raw milk: we funded an independent statistical re-analysis of a US dataset for raw milk outbreaks from the CDC! An epidemiological expert on the pro-pasteurization side motivated this RAWMI commitment when she criticized the methodology for the Whitehead and Lake study (summarized in the last issue of Ripple) as part of the raw milk case in the Toronto courts.

You may know that supporters of Michael Schmidt and Glencolton Farm are challenging Canada’s prohibition of raw milk. You may not know that one of our RAWMI board members (Peg Coleman) is serving as an expert on benefits (and risks) of raw milk in this case. RAWMI funded the statistical re-analysis using different methods (graphical analyses and Poisson regression) to test the CDC hypothesis that as access to raw milk increased, outbreaks would increase. The statistician confirmed not only that there is no significant increase in outbreak rates with increasing access to raw milk, but also no increase in rates of illness or hospitalizations. RAWMI’s commitment to support independent statistical analysis helped prevent this key study by Whitehead and Lake from being excluded in the courts.

One of the figures on outbreak rates by state from the re-analysis is provided below. The RAWMI board intends to continue this statistical work as funding becomes available so that this unbiased analysis can be submitted for publication. Donations to RAWMI can support our continuing challenges to the myth that raw milk is inherently dangerous.

Figure 1.   State-level scatterplots of raw milk-related outbreak incidence rates (outbreaks/1MM) on the y-axis as a function of time (year) on the x-axis. The y-axis has been scaled to account for episodic “spikes” in the incidence rate that occurred in some states (e.g., Alaska, Vermont).

Figure 1. State-level scatterplots of raw milk-related outbreak incidence rates (outbreaks/1MM) on the y-axis as a function of time (year) on the x-axis. The y-axis has been scaled to account for episodic “spikes” in the incidence rate that occurred in some states (e.g., Alaska, Vermont).

Dr Mercola and Raw Milk

Dr Mercola comes out strong in support of safe raw milk in his recent article, Why Is Raw Milk Illegal? Mercola makes a compelling argument that raw milk is a uniquely healthy food that has huge benefits to the consumers, the environment, and even the cows. RAWMI's training programs and Common Standards are cited in this article as an example of how raw milk can be produced safely.

Mercola's article also provided a link to RAWMI Listed Farmers.  Listed farmers are an amazing resource for their dedication to safety and the health of their consumers. Together, we can change the public perception about raw milk, so that more people can benefit from this amazing food. 

Regenerative Agriculture Foundation Grant

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Great news!! As a non-profit organization, RAWMI relies on donations to do our work.  RAWMI is also actively pursuing grant opportunities in order to help us achieve our mission.  In April 2019, RAWMI was awarded a $50k grant from the Regenerative Agriculture Foundation.

This grant will allow us to promote the RAWMI mission on the four projects described briefly below, including training for farmers and consumers about the production of healthy, safe raw milk.

  • Project 1: Collaborate in detailed statistical analysis and publication of RAWMI “case studies” with further documentation of the “RAWMI Effect”. This research capitalizes on our data base of compelling test data with professional analysis by respected PhD researchers.

  • Project 2: Create raw milk continuing educational materials for farmers on benefits and risk reduction practices.

  • Project 3: Create raw milk continuing educational materials for customers on benefits and risk.

  • Project 4: Continue to mentor farmers with training on RAWMI Risk Assessment and Management Plan (RAMP) food safety systems.

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Update on CibusDX 30-Minute “On the Farm” Pathogen Tests

In the previous edition of the RAWMI Ripple, we were excited to announce the development of the CibusDX 30-minute on-site pathogen detection technology. Recently, RAWMI Chairman Mark McAfee met with the folks from CibusDX to learn more about this up-and-coming technology. It turns out that the technology for testing Campylobacter, E. coli O157:H7, and Salmonella is still under development, and will likely not be available this year.  RAWMI looks forward to future implementation of this technology as an additional confirmation step in the production of safe raw milk.

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Pasteurized vs. Raw Breastmilk for Pre-Term Infants

recent pilot study by Sun and colleagues (2019) has shown that feeding pre-term infants fresh raw breastmilk decreased risk of necrotizing enterocolitis, mortality, sepsis, retinopathy of prematurity, and bronchopulmonary dysplasia, even with just one fresh breastmilk feed per day!

The current norm for feeding pre-term infants is to use frozen or pasteurized donor breast milk, yet this study found that 88% of the mothers were able to provide at least one feed of fresh milk per day. Feeding pre-term infants raw breastmilk is an excellent step towards giving these vulnerable babies the best chance of a healthy start.

This is not the first study to demonstrate benefits of raw human breastmilk over pasteurized donor milk. The list below documents an extensive body of evidence from studies conducted in NICUs around the world that consistently demonstrate health benefits for fresh raw breastmilk over pasteurized donor milk or formula for preterm and low birth weight infants.

  • Sun et al., 2019:                             207 infants (China)

  • Squires, 2017:                                 302 infants (US, WA)

  • Cossey et al., 2013:                       303 infants (Belgium)

  • Strand et al., 2012:                        335 infants and toddlers (Nepal)

  • Montjaux-Regis et al., 2011:       55 infants (France)

  • Schanler et al., 2005:                    243 infants (US, TX)

  • Narayanan et al., 1984:               226 infants (India)

The RAWMI board is concerned that breast milk donor banks need to update their risk assessments and start considering the balance of possible risks of potential pathogens with clear benefits of the natural microbiota of milks. Can you assist RAWMI in getting the word out to moms that breast milk donor banks routinely pasteurize donor milk, thus providing suboptimal benefits to our most vulnerable infants?

Raw Milk Poll

Lancaster Farming, a leading Northeast and Mid-Atlantic farm newspaper, conducted a poll in early March. The question was, "How do you feel about raw milk?" 97.4% of poll participants responded that raw milk is "a healthful product and farmers should be allowed to sell it if they want to." Only 0.8% of respondents answered that, "All milk should be pasteurized." Public opinion of raw milk is changing, as more people realize the value of this nutrient-dense food!

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Huge Win For Raw Milk in California!

Misinformed inspectors from the San Bernadino County Department of Environmental Health were notifying stores that the sale of raw milk was illegal. In fact, the code is clear that raw milk is legal under both local code 33.0502 and State Food and Ag Code Div 15 Title 3. The inspectors were incorrectly directing stores to pull raw milk off the shelves.

RAWMI Chairman Mark McAfee worked together with folks from Sprout's and Clark’s Nutrition to better understand the code, and later Mark was able to get permission to talk for 3 minutes during a meeting of the San Bernadino County Board of Supervisors.

The Board of Supervisors agreed to uphold their current code, which does allow for raw milk. Furthermore, the Board voted to clarify their county code to make it more obviously align with the state regulations that allow for the 100% legal sale of raw milk! This will help ensure that there is no confusion about the legality of raw milk in the future.

Raw milk is secure in San Bernadino County!

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Take care all of you RAWMI producers, consumers and all of you interested in raw milk!