MOM: “How come the organic milk lasts so much longer?”

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One of the changes I’ve made since being diagnosed with cancer is that I only buy organic products, including milk. My mom, who usually just buys regular pasteurized milk, recently noticed that the organic milk seems to last so much longer. She asked me why.

“It’s the pus…” I answered. She looked at me a little confused.

Most people don’t know that the non-organic dairy industry is legally allowed up to 750,000 pus cells per ml of pasteurized milk. This means an 8-ounce glass of pasteurized milk can legally  contain up to 180 million pus cells.

PUS CELLS? Yep. The industry likes to call them ‘somatic cells,’ but this is just another name for pus – the same kind of pus that pops out of a zit on your face.

How does the pus get into the milk? Because non-organic dairy cows are raised in such crowded and unsanitary conditions that they are riddled with infection, particularly in their udders. Ever wonder why the non-organic dairy industry feeds their milk cows daily doses of antibiotics? Because of all these infections. But by using antibiotics so regularly, they can’t clear the infections in the cows. They can just keep them somewhat less threatening, producing less puss than if they just let the cows go untreated.

Organic milk comes from cows that aren’t treated with antibiotics. So why don’t they produce pus? Because they aren’t raised in conditions that result in infection. So when you pour yourself a glass of organic milk, you aren’t drinking down a pus milk-shake. Nor are you drinking down any antibiotic residue, which contributes to antibiotic resistance in humans.

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Pretty sick, right? But it’s true. Read on.

The problem of antibiotics being fed to livestock like dairy-producing cows is such a serious problem that the World Health Organization, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics expressed their concerns in an open letter to Congress: “The evidence is so strong of a link between misuse of antibiotics in food animals and human antibiotic resistance, that FDA and Congress should be acting much more boldly and urgently to protect these vital drugs for human illness. Overuse and misuse of important antibiotics in food animals must end.”

The FDA has announced plans to “phase out” use of antibiotics in livestock, but for now things remain the same. And unless dairy producers find better ways of protecting the health of their milk producing cows, taking them off antibiotics will result in more infection, not less. That’s more PUS…
Here’s an interesting video for those who like to get grossed out – but it illustrates the point: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKTfkFIiQUw
And for a great article about the politics and problems of getting non-organic dairy producers to stop using harmful antibiotics click here:
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2 thoughts on “MOM: “How come the organic milk lasts so much longer?”

  1. Your argument is incomplete. One of the reasons organic milk lasts “so long” is because if you look closely, it is all ULTRA-pasteurized. I would encourage you to look for a raw, or at least minimally-pasteurized product to try. Many small farmers sell this type of milk and some are organic in practice if not in certification.
    Somatic cell is the measure for health of a cow, indicating whether she may have mastitis or not. Honestly, I have been to some organic dairies that are…very high in somatic cell count (and therefore mastitis). I’ve been to some conventional dairies that are….spectacularly clean and well-cared for. Pampered cows we call it. When I met my husband, his dairy was the finest “commercial” type dairy I had ever been on, and I would be proud to show anyone the job we do.
    When you spread around the word that all milk has “pus” you are slandering the good with the bad. I had a guy come up to me at a fair and ask about pus in our milk. It was repulsive to even talk to him. I drink milk from my cows fresh, many have said it’s the best tasting milk they’ve ever had. So why should some fellow come up to me and say my milk has pus in it? Flawed argument if you ask me. In this case, one bad apple in the barrel does NOT spoil the bunch. There are some great dairy farmers out there, trying to do a top job to produce food for those not willing to put in the effort themselves!

    • I didn’t mean to imply that every cow at every dairy is guaranteed to have mastitis and produce milk-filled pus. I think that saying that there is a legally allowed limit acknowledges the fact that milk isn’t required to have pus in it. It is just allowed to contain a certain amount of pus up to a limit.

      I do know about raw milk that has been minimally pasteurized, and that is probably what I’ll be drinking next year after I get a couple of goats here to provide milk (of course this isn’t cow’s milk, but it’s raw and to me works just as well).

      Certainly there are better and worse conventional dairy farmers and better and worse organic farmers. But I’m not just worried about pus. I don’t want to be taking low-dose antibiotics into my body on a regular basis as residue in any dairy product. You must know that 80 percent of the antibiotics sold in the USA each year are for farm animal consumption. But organic farming (done right) is free of antibiotics.

      I also have a personal feeling about the conditions in which animals are raised, and what they are fed. If I could have a dairy cow here on my property she would be grass-fed, and would have plenty of individualized attention and space to roam around in with sources of stimulation. I can’t have a cow here, but I CAN have goats. Hence the goat milk.

      I’m going in the same direction with eggs. I will have hens here next year laying eggs. So I’m willing to do the work and face where my food is coming from. I’ll have a much clearer sense of what I’m putting into my body, and the conditions under which it was produced.

      I would never walk up to someone I didn’t know and accuse them of having pus in the milk produced on their dairy farm unless I had some serious evidence. I’m just not that kind of person. I can’t apologize for the person who accosted you, but it wasn’t me. It does sound like he made some assumptions and was rude and confrontational. No one really likes that and I wouldn’t either.

      Thanks for posting a comment!

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