I remember as a child, my mother, an ex-fashionista, telling my older sister, a budding fashionista that what is old will be new again and that the fashions of yesterday would return to be the fashions of today.
The same thing seems to be true with diet fads.
The low carb diet, an obnoxious and unhealthy way to lose weight has been going in and out of style since it was invented by a 19th century undertaker.
Also recently revived from the 19th century, is an enthusiasm for drinking raw, unpasteurized milk. A significant health hazard.
Slate.com has an interesting article about the latest cycle of enthusiasm for drinking raw unpasteurized cow’s milk.
It was actually a German chemist, Franz von Soxhlet (who never seems to get any public credit or, of course, blame), who, in 1886, first proposed using the technique to reduce bacteria in bottled milk.* In the United States, public health advocates began urging dairy farmers to begin using pasteurization as a means of breaking down a near tidal wave of child mortality. Raw-milk followers, including our friend the irate physician, fought the move.
It wasn’t until 1914—compelled by a typhoid epidemic linked to unpasteurized milk—that New York City finally enforced a pasteurization rule. Seven years later, the city’s infant death rate, which had hovered at an appalling 240 of every 1,000 live births, had dropped to 71 deaths per 1,000, a victory many credited to pasteurization.
Today, just about 0.5 percent of all the milk consumed in this country is unpasteurized. Yet from 1998 to 2008, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention received reports of 85 infectious disease outbreaks linked to raw milk. In the past few months, physicians have treated salmonella in Utah, brucellosis in Delaware, campylobacter in Colorado and Pennsylvania, and an ugly outbreak of E. coli O157-H7 in Minnesota, which sickened eight people in June. Epidemiologists not only identified a rare strain of the bacteria but matched its DNA to those stricken, the cows on the farm that supplied them with raw milk, and manure smearing the milking equipment and even the animals themselves. When regulators shut down the dairy farm, supporters promptly charged them with belonging to a government conspiracy to smear the reputation of a hallowed food.
Some, like Wisconsin raw-milk champion Max Kane, dismiss infectious disease altogether: “The bacteria theory’s a total myth,” Kane told one interviewer. “It allows us to have an enemy to go after similar to how it is with terrorism. It’s food terrorism.”
After a dairy in Washington state was linked to an E. coli outbreak last December, the farmer himself put it like this in an interview with the Seattle Times. Scientists were wrong to malign his milk because “everything God designed is good for you.”
It seems an odd conclusion to draw from an outbreak of Escherichia Coli O157:H7, an organism dangerous enough to kill people by causing complete renal failure. I wish someone would explain the logic that leads to the conclusion that this apparently divine infection is actually “good for you.”
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