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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 20 December 2007 Issue

Hate Mail
By Robert Cohen

A few years before wearing the Notmilkman "hat"
I was lucky enough to spend a few hours with
an ex-baseball player who happened to be my
boyhood idol. His name was on my first baseball
glove at age 8. That year was 1960. Thirty-two
years later, I shared quality one-on-one time
in an office overlooking the field of the
Atlanta Braves where my hero was now the director
of player development. One of the topics we discussed
was the enormous amount of hate mail that this
man had received during the year he would break
Babe Ruth's home run record.

I had never received a hate mail letter and could
not possibly relate to the prejudice and bigotry
that this man unfairly received.

Fourteen years after beginning the Notmilk movement,
I consider myself an expert on hate mail and
threatening phone calls. The both come with the job.
The second-worst reaction I ever received to a Notmilk
column occurred in 2003. At the time, I reported:

"Every Portion of Swiss Cheese is Infected with Listeria"

Recently, I wrote a column criticizing Republican
presidential candidate Ron Paul for his introduction
of a bill to legalize the transport of raw milk across
state borders. If a man can be judged by the comments
of his supporters, Mr. Paul would represent the re-birth
of a certain fascist fuehrer. I learned that Ron Paul
supremists would waste no time in criticizing my ancestry.
How could they have known I was Jewish? Perhaps my last
name gave it away.

So, the two columns representing my ability to offend
large groups of people have resulted in out of state
milk cartons thrown in my driveway, dead animals left
on my lawn, middle-of-the-night phone calls, vile
letters, viler emails, and possibly a dart board
or two constructed with my photo inside of select
Wisconsin dairy barns. Cross burnings are easy. Just
two pieces of wood nailed together. Ron Paul supporters
have not yet figured out how to do a Jewish star
burning. Too many complex angles, perhaps. there really listeria in every slice of Swiss

One of the many tasks I assign myself each day is
to invest time (sometimes a few hours) searching
and reading Medline abstracts. I located the revealing
study in a French journal, referenced as Rev Epidemiol
Sante Publique. 2003, Oct;51(5):493-503.

A group of scientists (Schaffner, et. al.) measured
the level of existing Listeria bacteria in Swiss
cheese samples and came up with astonishing results.
Every sample tested contained traces of live Listeria.

These researchers discovered that the processing of
Swiss cheese leads to a probability of contamination.
In their words:

"Elevated bacterial concentrations are mainly due to
cases of mastitis involving Listeria monocytogenes."

Depending upon the level of heat treatment, various
samples tested resulted in anywhere from one to ten Listeria
monocytogenes per portion of cheese. The authors conclude:

"Based on the presented data and estimations, it is concluded
that the consumption of traditionally/artisanal manufactured
Swiss Emmental hard cheese presents an extremely low, but
existent risk, especially for people with a deficient or
diminished immune system."

What this means is that all Swiss cheese contains detectable
levels of live Listeria. Depending upon storage (loading dock,
truck, warehouse, supermarket, your home), those bacteria
have the opportunity to multiply. By sharing this news with
my readers, I forever alienated every member of the dairy
industry. It is said that truth hurts. In that regard, I
often inflict pain and torture. There will be more to come.

Robert Cohen 

Go on to PIGEON INFORMATION [The terribly maligned innocent birds!!!]
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