By Robert Cohen Executive Director Text Only

T = Tuberculosis

Russian Roulette is the most dangerous of games. Is one bullet in the chamber or five? Too many pasteurization errors have occurred in the past, and more will occur in the future. In 1985, 150,000 people got salmonella poisoning because milk was not pasteurized correctly in Chicago. Four people died. Nobody charted epidemiological data for subsequent tuberculosis death rates. Many of America's dairy cows are infected with tuberculosis. Does raw milk sound appetizing? Can you rely upon milk processors to properly pasteurize milk? Last year, there were dozens of major cheese recalls. Hundreds of thousands of cases of spoiled dairy products contained lethal virus and bacteria. Ingesting body fluids from diseased animals is a dangerous game of Russian Roulette.

As you review the first citation, ask yourself this question. Why does USDA allow milk from tuberculosis-infected herds to be sold?

"A Mycobacterium bovis-infected dairy herd of 369 Holstein cows with lactation duration between 200 and 360 days was tested... 170 cows had positive tuberculin test results, and 199 had negative results. Cows with positive test results produced less milk than did cows with negative test results...In this herd, tuberculosis was associated with a 4% decrease in milk production."

J Am Vet Med Assoc, 1998 Sep, 213:6

"Many diseases such as tuberculosis are transmissible by milk products."

Journal of Dairy Science 1988; 71

"Researchers and regulatory authorities were meeting to halt the rise and spread of tuberculosis from cows to humans, and to bring incidence to eradication levels."

Hoard's Dairyman, March 10, 1959

"Some strains of mycobacteria, similar to those that are associated with tuberculosis, have been found to survive pasteurization."

The National Mastitis Council, Inc. 1970 Washington, D.C.

"Infected raw milk is the chief means by which milk-borne tuberculosis is transmitted to man."

Journal of Dairy Science, 19:435, 1936

"The causative (tuberculosis) organism in cattle, called Mycobacterium bovis, is one of the most heat-resistant of the non-spore forming pathogenic bacteria, but fortunately it is destroyed by pasteurization. A cow with pulmonary tuberculoisis may swallow her own saliva and this, with the infected material coughed up from the lungs, then passes through the whole digestive tract, and remains as an active form of infection. Particles of infected dust or manure may contaminate the milk, or it may be infected directly from the tubercular udder."

Modern Dairy Products, by Lincoln Lampert, Third Edition

Robert Cohen author of:   MILK A-Z
Executive Director (
Dairy Education Board

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