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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From Animals in Print 28 January 2001 Issue:

Step Four In The Milk Industry`s Pyramid of Greed and Abuse
The Slaughter of Milk Producing Cows

By Robert Cohen  

Dear Friends:

Each issue of Hoard's Dairyman (the dairy industry magazine) contains an advice column written by three University of Wisconsin veterinarians. Readers submit questions, and the vets offer their opinions.


In the January 5, 2001 issue (vol. 146, no. 2, p. 82), a dairy farmer asks:

"Are there any food safety or liability concerns or issues when I send a Johne's positive cow to slaughter?"


I recently wrote a column about Johne's disease. This cow ailment is caused by bacteria, mycobacterium paratuberculosis. Before getting to the outrageous and unethical response, you must understand the seriousness of this issue. My column:


Cows diagnosed with Johne's Disease have diarrhea and heavy fecal shedding of bacteria. This bacteria becomes cultured in milk and is not destroyed by pasteurization. Occasionally, the milk-borne bacteria will begin to grow in the human host, and irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn's results. ________________________________________

"It is reasonable to conjecture that M. paratuberculosis may be responsible for some cases of Crohn's disease."

Journal of Clinical Microbiology 1992;30(12):3070-3073 ________________________________________

"Johne's disease and Crohn's disease are remarkably similar in clinical signs and intestinal pathology."

Hoard's Dairyman, January 24, 1995


"Of 77 milk samples (taken from cows with Johne's disease), 11.6% were culture-positive (contained M. paratubercolosis)."

Journal of Clinical Microbiology 1992;30(1):166-171 ________________________________________

"Mycobacterium paratuberculosis was isolated from tissue taken from patients with Crohn's disease and is implicated in the etiology of this disease."

Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 1993, May 31(5) ________________________________________

"Mycobacterium Paratuberculosis crosses the species barrier to infect and cause disease in humans."

J Hermon-Taylor, British Medical Journal, Feb 1998.315 ________________________________________

"Mycobacterium paratuberculosis is capable of surviving commercial pasteurization, when there are more than 10 bacteria per millilitre in raw milk."

N. Sung, Applied and Environmental Microbiology: 64(3), Mar 1998. ________________________________________

"Mycobacterium paratuberculosis RNA was found in 100% of Crohn's disease patients, compared with 0% of controls."

D. Mishina, Proceedings National Academy of Sciences USA: 93: September, 1996 ________________________________________


"To date, there are no known food safety risks or liability concerns when a Johne's-positive cow is slaughtered. In fact, culling test positive cows will reduce contamination of the farm environment and lower the risk that other cattle will become infected with organisms that she sheds.

Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, the organism that causes Johne's, can be shed in milk, colostrum, and feces and potentially could enter the food chain in the raw milk, cheese, or meat from infected cattle. Similarities between Crohn's disease in people, the cause of which is unknown, and Johne's disease have prompted public health concerns and reinforced the importance of drinking pasteurized milk and dairy products and cooking meat thoroughly."


Mycobacterium partuberculosis is not killed by pasteurization. Dairy industry veterinarians clearly care more about safety on the farm than safety to the consumer. That being the case, the only safe way to insure that you do not become one of the forty million Americans with irritable bowel syndrome is to eliminate milk, dairy, and meat from your diet.

Robert Cohen
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