veggies.jpg (6769 bytes)fruitbowl.jpg (6391 bytes)Paratuberculosis and Crohn's Disease: Got Milk?

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Paratuberculosis and Crohn's Disease: Got Milk?
by Michael Greger, MD
Updated January 2001

Public Relations

Despite the release of these findings, Nick Brown, the British agriculture minister said on national television: "I drink pasteurized milk and it is safe to do so...with confidence," a claim reminiscent of a previous minister's assurances about beef from cattle infected with mad cow disease.[196] According to the Royal Statistical Society, contaminated beef still has the worst-case scenario potential of killing 13 million people who consumed it and are currently incubating the disease which Britain's health secretary called the worst form of death imaginable.[8]

The same assurances are echoed in the United States. For example, the director of the USDA National Animal Disease Center, feeling assured that pasteurization eliminated any health threat said, "I don't hesitate to feed [milk] to my 8-year-old."[187] The FDA chooses to continue to base national safety policy on the single flawed USDA study,[97] even now that the study has been superseded by proof that its conclusions are wrong (the United States mandates virtually the same pasteurization method that is used in Britain and Ireland).[2]

The FDA's continued insistence that pasteurization eliminates the risk of contracting paraTB -- despite clear evidence to the contrary -- puzzled Kurt Gutknecht, the editor of the highly respected industry publication Wisconsin Agriculturist. He called up Joe Smucker, the leader of the FDA's Milk Safety Team, and asked him about the FDA's official "commercial pasteurization does indeed eliminate this hazard" statement. Smucker replied that he did not have "clearance from the FDA" to speak to him on the subject. Surprised at Smucker's reluctance to talk to him, the editor went to the official FDA spokesperson, who described the refusal of an FDA official to not respond directly to press inquiries as "very unusual." Gutknecht turned his attention back to the Milk Safety Team which no longer returned his phone calls.[48]

The industry and/or131 government knows, however, what kind of time bomb they're sitting on.61 According to one industry expert, the incrimination of MAP in human disease would cause enormous economic damage to animal agriculture industries. An article in Milk Science International entitled "Is Mycobacterium paratuberculosis a possible agent in Crohn's Disease?" warns that "the present state of knowledge is...potentially catastrophic for the dairy industry should existing information be used in a sensationalist manner."[96]

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