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However, although fewer cases of milkborne ailments exist today, the possibility is still realistic. For example, more than 300 people in the United States got sick from drinking raw milk or eating cheese made from raw milk in 2001, and nearly 200 became ill from these products in 2002 (Bren, 2004). Most health people recover from foodborne illnesses within a short period of time, but others may have symptoms that are chronic, severe, or life-threatening. Individuals with weakened immune systems, such as the elderly, children and those with certain diseases or conditions, are most at risk for severe infections from pathogens that may be present in raw milk. In pregnant women, listeria monocytogenes caused illnesses that resulted in miscarriage, fetal death, or the illness or death of a newborn infant (Bern, 1994). Furthermore, escherichia coli infection has been linked to hemolytic uremic syndrome, a condition that can cause kidney failure and death (Bern, 1994). As a result of such potential infections, the United States Public Health Service/Food and Drug Administration, divisions of the Department of Health and Human Services, have developed a policy or regulations with regard to milk quality. This model is known as the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance of 1978 (PMO), and contains the milk quality standards recommended to states, counties and municipalities. The following adoptions of these procedures by state legislatures, policy and standards by the individual states must be equal to be not lessor than those standards outlined in the PMO. States such as Florida and Illinois have their own divisions vested with the responsibility of policy making, licensing and inspecting of dairy farms and processing plants, and enforcement's of individual Grade a milk programs.
Federal Agencies & Milk
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides oversight for the processing of raw milk into pasteurized milk, cottage cheese, yogurt and sour cream under the National Conference on Intestate Milk Shipments "Grade a" milk program. This cooperative between the FDA and the 50 states including Puerto Rico helps to ensure the uniformity of milk regulations and the safety of milk and milk products (Bern, 1994). This program is also based on the PMO, and under the Grade a program, state personnel conduct inspections and assign ratings that are audited by FDA regional milk specialists. The FDA Grade a milk program includes pasteurized milk from cows, sheep, goats, and horses. Raw milk and raw milk cheeses cannot be labeled Grade a, since they are not pasteurized and not covered under the program (Berns, 1994).
Finally, the quality and safety processes for milk remains a concern for consumers, dairy farmers, and the government agencies that regulate milk and milk products. The world continues to grow, and the production of milk must continue to meet up to standards. According to the United Nations Population Division Report, the world population reached 6.1 billion in mid-2000 and is currently growing at an annual rate of 1.2%. Six of the poorest countries such as India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and Indonesia, are responsible for half the observed growth. In 2050 the total world population is expected to be around 13 billion people, of which 11 billion will be in underdeveloped regions. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization estimates that world agricultural exports increased at an average annual rate of 3.2% in value terms from 1990 to 1999, with food exports growing at a rate of 3.7%. However, the agricultural trade of developing countries during this period represents only 50% of total world exports and it is concentrated in a minority of developing countries, a situation that creates an uneven trade balance in food from developed to developing countries.
The world's milk production depends on agencies such as the FDA and national cooperation between dairy farms. Other suggestions for a comprehensive milk quality improvement system include the investigation of health status of raw milk, and the clear delineation of responsibilities for quality investigation, for activities and processes to improve milk quality. Processes such as pasteurization have created an extended shelf-life for milk and milk products. The government could also implement an extension service for milk producers, which would secure the necessary problem areas and would be aimed at obtaining the highest degree of efficiency and synergy. This service could include technical supervision, herd management, cow behavior, milking technique, animal health and hygiene and continuing education on milking techniques. Fortunately, the threat of milkborne diseases and the incidence of outbreaks involving milk and milk products has been greatly reduced over the decades due to improved sanitary milk production practices and pasteurization..
Bren, L. (2004). Got Milk? Make sure its Pasteurized. FDA Consumer Magazine,…[continue]
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