A THREE year-old boy dies from drinking unpasteurised “bath” milk and four other children become ill, but now a group of parents and others is protesting its right to buy and drink the dangerous product.
Melbourne nutritionist and food writer Arabella Forge will be among protesters who will drink raw milk outside the Department of Consumer Affairs offices on Saturday to demand it be made legal for consumption.
Ms Forge told ABC Radio this morning that the product now illegal for sale as a beverage should be made legal and a new system to regulate its commercial production and sale should be created by the State government.
This is despite the death of a toddler on the Mornington Peninsular in December and the illness of four other children due to drinking raw milk.
According to Victoria’s chief medical officer the boy died from haemolytic uremic syndrome, which affects the kidneys and bloodstream.
Protesters want the right for raw milk producers to be allowed to sell milk without the bittering agent they are now required to add to make it undrinkable, following new regulations after the bacterial infections.
Ms Forge said raw milk drinkers believed the product had health benefits, but the peak food body Nutrition Australia has said there is no evidence it has any more benefits than pasteurised milk. Neither does pasteurisation damage the nutritional value of milk.
ABC presenter Jon Faine asked Ms Forge: “What’s wrong with drinking pasteurised milk like 99.9 per cent of the population?” to which she replied “well a lot of people have difficulty digesting pasteurised milk”.
This is despite the fact that the chief medical officer also said evidence raw milk aids digestion was purely “anecdotal”.
Faine made the point thousands of his listeners were no doubt thinking: “Well don’t drink milk then, there’s alternatives out there, there’s soy, there’s all sorts of things.”
As one of the parents listening, it certainly seems that of all the worthy causes worth protesting, the right to drink and feed children a product proven to make at least some of them sick – or worse – is not one of them.
The raw food trend, organics, the green juice fad, all are harmless and give people options to have the best possible diet without potential harm (in fact organics are said to be better for the environment).
Given the lack of evidence coroborating its supposed health benefits, and the solid evidence of the risk, the raw milk movement feels a lot like an affected indulgence among the precious few.