By Robert Cohen Executive Director Text Only


Dear Friends,

Pus is not dangerous. Pus is rather delicious, especially when it's mixed with sugar and frozen, or bubbly hot atop marinara sauce and pizza. Fermented pus with acidophilus bacteria makes for a tasty breakfast, especially if jellied fruit preserves are mixed in. I used to enjoy Dannon's pus, but Brown Cow makes a brand where the saturated fat rises to the surface. Now, that's 'hearty' food!

Many of my dairy-producing adversaries get upset when I reveal that milk is merely pus with hormones. Ten pounds of milk are used to make one pound of cheese. Cheese is concentrated pus.

Jim Dickrell's story in the March, 2001 issue of Dairy Today asks:


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a milk ordinance governing milk safety. USDA does not allow milk containing 750 million or more pus cells per liter to be shipped across state borders. That should be good news to milk drinkers.

Last year, the average liter of milk in America contained only 323 million pus cells, according to Hoard's Dairyman, the dairy industry magazine. Author Jim Dickrell reports that the level of pus cells has been rising ever since farmers began using Monsanto's genetically engineered bovine growth hormone. Before approval (February 1994), the average pus cell count in milk was under 300 million cells per liter. By 1996, that average count had reached 307 million. In 1997, the average count was 313 million, and by 1998, the number had reached 318 million.

Researchers working for the National Mastitis Council define normal and abnormal milk based on the number of pus cells. According to Dickrell's story, the concentration of pus cells in "normal milk" is almost always less than 100 million cells per liter.

The number of pus cells in milk is an indicator of the state of health of the mammary glands and udders in cows. Stressed and infected cows have cell counts above 100 million. What does that say for the average milk in America? Not very healthy, even by dairy industry standards.

According to this article:

"When cell counts in milk exceed 200 (million per liter), the odds favor that the [udder] is infected or is recovering from infection."

The dairy magazine reports:

"Abnormal milk will be discolored and have flakes, clots or other gross alterations in appearance."

Gross is certainly an appropriate word to describe pus-filled milk with clots. This analyses of mastitis researchers reveals:

"At 400 (million) cells per liter, some 35% of cows will be infected."

This means that approximately one-third of the cows being milked at any one time in America are stressed and infected. Milk from these cows contains large amounts of bacteria, virus, and pus. As a consequence, farmers must treat their herds with increased amounts of antibiotics.

Pam Ruegg, a University of Wisconsin mastitis researcher, examined more than one million records, and concluded that the higher the herd's pus cell count, the greater the risk of antibiotic residues in milk.

Her results were published in the December 2000 issue of the Journal of Dairy Science.

Related info:
How much pus is in milk?
The state of pus
Pus can be delicious, but is it legal?

Robert Cohen author of:   MILK A-Z

Executive Director (
Dairy Education Board

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