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Posts Tagged ‘Ben Pratt’

Save Raw Milk in the UK!

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Hi All,

Just a quick one, as you all are aware I am a massive fan of Raw Milk. If your unsure what it is have a look back at the blog for the interview with Ben Pratt, and also his articles on raw milk safety.

The UK government is looking to ban Raw Milk, so if you think this is wrong, fill in the petition below! It will take 15 seconds.




Interview: Ben Pratt Talks Raw Milk

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

This week we spoke to Ben Pratt from Natural Food Finder about raw milk.  This is a hot topic at the moment with major mainstream news outlets getting involved in the debate with to regards to its safety.  Ben has done extensive research into raw milk and its benefits and is a chapter leader for the Weston A.Price Foundation. 

Tom Godwin: Hi Ben, it has been a while since we had you on last, it is great to have you back on!

Thanks Tom. It is great to be back chatting again about all things nutritional. It is great as well to see you getting involved in supporting local, whole foods through the Weston Price Foundation.

TG: You are heavily involved with the campaign for raw milk, what exactly is raw milk?

Yes I am very keen on encouraging the consumer to be more aware of and to retain the right to drink raw milk direct from the farm. Simply put raw milk is milk that has been drawn from a cow, buffalo, goat or sheep that has not been sent to a dairy or been pasteurised before consumption. The majority of milk today is sent to one of the 5 major dairies where it is pasteurised, homogenised and standardised before it is bottled and sent to the supermarkets for sale.
Pasteurisation is where the milk is rapidly heated for 20 seconds to 72 degrees Celsius to kill any potentially pathogenic bacteria. Pathogens will be killed, as will any beneficial bacteria. The fragile proteins in the milk will also become damaged at this temperature and the enzymes in the milk will be completely destroyed. Homogenisation is where milk is forced through a tiny filter valve at 2100 PSI which then breaks down the cream into microscopic globules so that they never gather into a cream line that settles on the surface. Standardisation is the process of skimming or removing the cream from the milk and then adding it back in at set or standardised levels. In the UK skimmed milk typically has 0.1% fat, semi-skimmed 1.8-2.0% fat and whole milk 3.5% fat. It is interesting that milk even from Holstein cows is typically 4.0% fat, whereas Jersey or Guernsey milk can be as high as 5.5-6.0% fat. So whole milk is not truly ‘whole’ it is just the standard fat content allowed in modern milk. So getting back to your question ‘what is raw milk’, it is milk that has not had any of these processes performed on it. Raw milk is not pasteurised, homogenised or standardised. It is milk in it’s absolutely natural state, directly from the animal.

TG: What are the health benefits of raw milk?

The answer to this question is not as straight forward as some people think. There are many claimed health benefits and then there are those that have been tested and proven through scientific research. Raw milk has been purported to provide a valuable source of all the essential amino acids, to be a source of probiotic bacteria, to contain immune promoting compounds, to be rich in approximately 60 nutritive enzymes, to provide a rich source of calcium that is fully bioavailable, to provide a good source of the anticancer compound CLA (if grass fed milk) and it is also a source of vitamins. These things all sound good enough, but perhaps a comparison to pasteurised milk will highlight this even more. Pasteurised milk will contain amino acids, but a proportion of these will be denatured, all probiotic bacteria will be destroyed, all enzymes will be destroyed, calcium will still be present but much less available for absorption, the immune-protective compounds will be partially destroyed, much of the CLA (if present in the first place) will be destroyed and there will be degradation of some of the vitamins present in the milk.

Perhaps the most publicised benefits of drinking raw milk are to do with a reduction in asthma and hay fever symptoms in those who have previously suffered. A recent study investigated this showing significant improvement in an article published in the medical journal, The Lancet.

TG: Why is raw milk so important?

Milk has always been consumed in its raw form. Pasteurisation has only become a product of the modern industrial age. It has only been common practice in the UK since the Second World War. To be honest raw milk is perhaps no more important than any other naturally occurring whole food. However, it is the increasing scarcity of raw milk and the intentions of others to remove raw milk from the food supply that makes it such an important issue! We are legally allowed to purchase tobacco, of which statistics suggest will bring about the death of 50% of its users, whereas certain groups claim that raw milk is too dangerous and should be banned no longer to be used for human consumption.

TG: Is raw milk safe?

Now there is a good question! Well that depends who you choose to ask! Ha ha! I recently watched a video recording from the Foods Standards Agencies recent board meeting where this was discussed. It is clear that despite the fact that they shared statistical evidence showing that there have been no deaths in England or Wales as a result of drinking raw milk for more than 17 years that some of those on the board had already made up their minds that it was unsafe. Not only has there been no deaths from raw milk, there has also been very few reported cases of illness either. This is point is even more stark when you consider that between 1992 and 2009 there have been more than 2500 outbreaks of food related illness from all causes affecting more than 65,000 people. Only 20 of these outbreaks were related to raw milk or cream which affected 242 people. This represents only 0.8% of the total outbreaks of food related illness and 0.4% of the people affected. Whilst it is appreciated that there is a smaller population that drink raw milk compared to pasteurised milk, it can hardly be said that raw milk is inherently dangerous on the back of these statistics. What about all the other foods that have caused more than 2300 people to be admitted to hospital and 149 deaths during the same time period from 92-09? Should the same stringent standards not be taken with these foods? As you can see this is a complex issue. If anyone is interested I have already written 2 blogs on the subject of raw milk safety. These can be found on Natural Food Finder at raw milk safety 1 and raw milk safety 2.

TG: Is it legal in the UK?

Consuming raw milk is absolutely legal in England, Wales and Ireland. There are no restrictions at present in relation to the sale or consumption of raw buffalo, goats or sheep’s milk. Cow’s milk has some restrictions. It can only be sold to the consumer directly from the farm through means of a farm shop or a delivery scheme. It cannot be purchased by an intermediate retailer who then sells it on to the consumer. There are approximately 100 small farms registered to sell raw cow’s milk in the UK with about another 35 or so who sell goats, buffalo or sheep’s milk. This makes the coverage of raw milk to the consumer somewhat limited. However, there are no restrictions in relation to the sale of unpasteurised cheeses which can be freely found for sale in most supermarkets, good delicatessens or cheesemongers.

TG: How can I find a supplier of raw milk?

Well to be honest the easiest way at present it to go to my website, and to visit our interactive Raw Milk Map to find which supplier is closest to where you live. We currently have more than 50 suppliers listed and continue to seek the information of all the farmers who produce in the UK. However, neither the FSA nor DEFRA are willing to part with this information so we are only able to add new details as we learn of them. We do have the largest online listing of raw milk producers in the UK so you chances of finding a supplier here first are pretty good. However, you may also get speaking to vendors and farmers at local farmers markets to see if they are aware of any registered raw milk farms. Hey and if you find one that we haven’t listed yet, be sure to let us know so we can share that good news with others.

TG: How can interested people get more information on Raw milk?

There are a few other websites that carry useful information regarding raw milk beside Natural Food Finder. Here is a list of options:

Well Tom it has been a pleasure to share a little time with you again, especially discussing a topic close to my heart. It should be everybody’s right to choose the food they want to eat and if milk is to be one of them then to enjoy the full nutritional benefits it must be high quality, pasture raised, clean raw milk from local, sustainable farms.

Video: Real Food

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Hi All,

Here is a quick video from Ben Pratt on what is real food?



Is Raw Milk Safe (Part 2)? By Ben Pratt

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Below is an article written by Ben Pratt of Natural Food Finder, this has been kindly reproduced with his permission, Thanks Ben!

After the last post on raw milk safety I have had some great discussions with friends and colleagues regarding the ‘evidence’ that is typically put forward apparently condemning the safety of drinking unpasteurised milk. Raw milk has also been in the press further in the last few weeks; in the Evening Standard as a result of Selfridges in London allowing a raw milk vending machine in their store (run by Hook & Sons), and also on the BBC One Show exploring the wonderful Guernsey milk produced by Dave Paull in Somerset.

The Foods Standards Agency have always been openly opposed to raw milk claiming that there is a mountain of evidence that it poses a more significant risk to our health compared to other foods and as such should be banned from consumption. However, as government have not been able to pass any laws to bring a ban into affect (despite 2 previous attempts) the FSA continues to encourage strict regulation and a to maintain a ‘beady’ little eye fixed on the raw milk farms and the bacterial counts of the milk that they produce. I went searching and came across the FSA’s full 2010 report on their website listing all the statistics and ‘evidence’ as to why raw milk should be banned. There is quite a lot of information to digest in this 20 page document. To get to the point I have created the table below which highlights the key statistics from within this report to show that the risk from raw milk is really not very significant at all.

I apologise for the small text size – please use the buttons Ctrl and + to zoom your screen to make it more easy to read.(Ctrl and 0 will restore screen)

It can clearly be seen that raw milk only accounts for 0.8% of all the total food borne illnesses in the UK over the 17 years that records have been kept regarding this. In terms of the number of people actually affected this is even fewer with only 0.39% of people affected by food borne illness contracting their bacterial strain from raw milk. There have been absolutely no deaths recorded at all as a result of illness due to drinking raw milk across the 17 years, but 149 deaths have been caused by other bacteria from other foods!! Why then is it raw milk that is under pressure to be banned and is still under tight regulation? Should we not be looking to the other foods that are causing 99.2% of all the food borne illnesses and 100% of the deaths related to food borne illnesses and measuring them against the same stiff ruler that is lined up against raw milk? Surely this is ridiculous! How is this a mountain of evidence? It is weak at very best – and it is the FSA’s own figures, their own statistics that show how poor the association between raw milk consumption and illness really is when compared to other foods. It is also important to point out that there was no mention in the report that the small number of raw milk related cases of illness actually drank the milk from licensed farms who produce their milk in line with the standards laid down by regulatory bodies. This raw milk could have come from anywhere, or any farm.

When looking at the 242 actual cases of illness related to raw milk consumption over the full 17 years we can determine that there is an average of 14 people each year who may contract a bacterial illness as a result of raw milk consumption. Of course we do not want these 14 people to become sick, but compared to the annual average of 3,634 people who become ill as a result of consuming other foods, raw milk is not looking nearly so bad after all.

Campylobacter is by far the most common source of illness related to raw milk consumption with 51% of the 242 cases, but it has the lowest rate of hospital admission at 5% as the symptoms may be unpleasant but are rarely life threatening. E Coli 0157 has the lowest percentage of actual illness attributed to raw milk (17% of 242 cases) but has the highest contribution to hospital admissions from the raw milk group as a contrast (63.8% of 36 admissions), totaling 23 people admitted over the 17 years reviewed. Now bearing in mind that the FSA also reported in 2005 that food borne campylobacter rates from all food sources peaked in 1998 at 58,000 cases in the UK dropping to 46,200 in 2002, then the 125 cases from raw milk over 17 years (averaging 7.3 cases per year) seem of little concern in comparison. This means that campylobacter related illness specifically originating from unpasteurised milk and cream accounted for 0.013% of all campylobacter infections in the UK in 1998 and only 0.015% of all campylobacter infections in 2002! Once again the question of why we are not increasing regulations on the other foods that cause 99.87% of campylobacter infections instead of unfairly regulating against raw milk has to be asked! It is clear from the first safety blog on raw milk that campylobacter is most commonly associated with chicken, salad vegetables and drinking water.

The Department of Health has observed a rise in the rate of illness from E Coli 0157 between 1982 and 2000. The year 2000 brought the highest on record up to that point with 850 reported cases of E Coli related illness. Of these cases in 2000 only 6 were identified as being from unpasteurised milk, or 0.7% of cases. The E Coli 0157 strain of bacteria causes a more serious illness that, as we have already pointed out, may result in hospital admission in more cases than with campylobacter. It is absolutely correct that we be concerned with E Coli, but once again should we not be taking stricter regulation of the other foods that are causing 99.3% of the cases of E Coli? I recently attended a raw milk debate in Ireland earlier this year where the Food Safety Authority officials made very passionate arguments about the ‘high’ risk of E Coli infection from raw milk. They used scare tactics to highlight how bad this illness is, implying raw milk was a primary cause. They even referred to a recent outbreak in Germany as though it were related to raw milk. I came away from the meeting and immediately read the news reports on this outbreak in Germany and as it happens they believed it came from cucumbers – nothing to do with milk. Here in the UK a recent E Coli outbreak affecting 250 people in 2011 was attributed to soil grown vegetables. Once again not milk! But I don’t here anyone calling for a ban on soil grown vegetables – no nothing like that. Vegetables are good for us, so just a reminder has been offered to be sure we wash of veg thoroughly.

Even more interesting is the incorrect assumption that drinking pasteurised milk will guarantee safety and prevent illness. The 2010 FSA report identifies that in the 17 years from 1992 to 2009 that 545 people were affected by bacteria related illness as a result of drinking pasteurised milk. This is more than double the rate of illness from raw milk over the same period of time! Of these outbreaks 43 people were hospitalised, slightly exceeding that of raw milk. There were no deaths related to pasteurised milk consumption. Whilst it is clear that more people drink pasteurised milk than raw, this shows that the idea that pasteurising milk somehow guarantees safety in consumption is completely false. Pasteurisation does guarantee that the milk you drink will be lower is nutrition and goodness as we discussed in our previous milk blog on nutritional benefits. Raw milk is a safe food to eat when it is is produced to carefully regulated standards from cows who graze on green pasture, hay or silage. In more than 99% of cases it will provide nutrition and good health and the risk of illness is certainly no higher than any other food that we eat in our modern food chain. In fact in most cases it is probably much cleaner and safer! The statistics speak for themselves. Now you have seen them with your own eyes and understand the minimal risks why not find your nearest raw milk supplier and see what real milk tastes like. The nutritional benefits are there to be had. Get to know your farmer and ensure he is maintaining high standards so that your milk is as nutritionally beneficial and as clean as possible. The bacterial standards at present in the UK for raw milk production are as follows:

Plate counts at 30 degrees C: (cfu per ml) < or = 20,000

Coliforms (cfu per ml) < 100

Note: cfu means ‘colony-forming units’ or active bacteria that are capable of replication


Is Raw Milk Safe? By Ben Pratt

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Below is an article written by Ben Pratt of Natural Food Finder, this has been kindly reproduced with his permission, Thanks Ben!

An article titled ‘The raw milk revolution’ was published on the Guardian newspaper on Wednesday 23rd November 2011. It was focused on the growing interest in this historical and valuable food and was not intended to be a convincing argument for the safety of raw milk. I decided to post some comments in support of Jon Healey the author of the article who had traveled to Olive Farm to taste the high quality milk from the Hurdlebrook herd of Guernsey dairy cows. We previously reported on the quality and cleanliness of the farm on an early blog on this site. We have also discussed the issue of whether there is nutritional benefit to raw milk versus pasteurised milk in a previous blog.

I was pleased to see that many of the early comments posted with this article were fairly positive, but invariably the further I read the more I found the nutrition zealots of the world banging on about raw milk is risky to drink, you would be risking your health to do so, it is like playing Russian roulette with your health etc. etc. etc. I could not stand the falsehoods anymore and so posted some replies to these individuals who seemed to have a desire to paint the whole raw milk picture with the same black brush. The comments and points raised in the day or two that followed have urged me to write a blog on the safety of raw milk. So here goes! Is raw, unpasteurised milk safe to drink?

The primary issue surrounding raw milk safety is whether or not milk that is not pasteurised carries with it harmful bacteria that may cause illness or in severe cases hospitalisation? Let’s start off by being brutally honest. Raw milk does have a risk of contamination from harmful bacteria…but then so does all food! All food is likely to carry bacteria into our digestive tract, whether it was brought from the farm, the processing plant or simply comes into contact with a less than sterile kitchen surface. Much of the bacteria that will be in food is not pathogenic, it will do us absolutely no harm. in fact some bacteria will be beneficial. Humans have developed a symbiotic existence with the many trillions of bacteria that live around us and in us. The healthy human bowel is estimated to have 3-4 lbs of bacteria within it. So first and foremost we need to get over the assumption that all bacteria are harmful and therefore we must kill 99.9% of germs with our sprays and cleansers, nevermind our food. However, all food does carry a small chance of exposure to a few species of bacteria that can cause illness and harm. A couple of dozen, out of the many millions of bacterial sub types, are potentially harmful. There are four specific families of bacteria that are responsible for a large majority of the food poisoning in modern societies:

  • Campylobacter
  • Listeria
  • Salmonella
  • E-coli

We need to determine whether these pathogenic bacteria are rampant in the milk supply or not? A study of raw milk risk in the USA conducted by Dr Ted Beals evaluated the actual incidence of bacterial infection from the ‘big four’ bacteria as a result of drinking unpasteurised milk. This was compared to the total number of cases of food poisoning from all sources across the nation from each specific bacteria over same time period. The figures he determined are as follows:

This hardly sounds like the dreaded, bacterial epidemic that is usually thrown by dissenting voices at those who drink raw milk. Dr Beals states that he tried to ensure that he included all certain cases of raw milk contamination in his figures from the 10 year sample he selected. Clearly food poisoning is a real problem in the USA, with so many reported cases of illness on record, it is definitely something that needs to be dealt with. However, if raw milk is causing such a small number of annual cases of illness, then what is causing the problem?

Whilst this data set does acknowledge that bacterial infection can be traced to raw milk, it does not paint the whole picture. This table needs to be put into context by looking at other studies that investigated the rate that food poisoning occurs within other food categories. The following data is drawn from a scientific study that investigated the rates of campylobacter infection from a random sample of food poisoning cases in the USA. They determined that the highest fraction of food poisoning came from chicken (31%), eating raw, salad vegetables (21%), drinking bottled water (12%) and eating fried chicken (4%). Campylobacter infection from all milk sources in this study was miniscule in comaprison to these other much more potent sources (Evans, Ribeiro & Salmon, 2003). Indeed some studies have shown that over time the natural and living compounds in raw milk actually destroy and kill off harmful bacteria over time rather than allow harmful bacteria to grow.

  • Lactobacillus gradually increase the lactic acid levels in the milk, altering the pH which slows and even helps reverse pathogenic bacterial growth
  • Lactoperoxidase, which is much higher in cows and goats milk than human milk helps to disarm and destroy pathogenic bacteria
  • Lactoferrin is found in rich supply in raw milk and has potent anti-bacterial properties and has even been approved by the American FDA for use as an anti-microbial spray against E-coli 0157:H7 in meat processing plants because it is so effective
  • Many other compounds in raw milk have an anti-microbial effect such as medium chain fatty acids (MCFA), enzymes (lysozyme), fibronectin and glycomacropeptides to name a few

All of these protective mechanisms are destroyed above 56 degrees celcius (bar the MCFA’s) and as the pasteurisation process heats to 72 degrees, they are completely inactivated by subjecting milk to this process. Therefore, milk that has been pasteurised becomes sterile, but if a pathogenic bacteria does manage to infiltrate the system it has nothing to stop it replicating and spreading like wildfire through the milk. This will then be dangerous to drink as the chances of illness are greatly increased and the milk has no protective factors! Interestingly, it was reported in Letters in Applied Microbiology (1999) that when 7 strains of E-coli 0157:H7 were added to raw milk at concentrations of 1 million per ml that the bacteria failed to grow and gradually died off. I am not suggesting we should not care about the purity of our raw milk, but this does show us that the protective factors in raw milk fight pathogenic invasion.

The Foods Standards Agency has stated that there has not been a single case of reported illness in England or Wales as a result of drinking raw milk since 2002. During the last 10 years the popularity of drinking unpasteurised milk has grown considerably, but the rate of bacterial illness has not increased with the rise in intake. Organic Pastures Dairy in California operates a much larger raw milk operation than most small family farms. They have produced over 40 million servings of raw milk since 1999 without a single episode of food poisoning or illness and without a single bacterial lab test resulting in a positive outcome. California regulates raw milk sales and demands that there are no more than 15,000 bacteria per millilitre. Organic Pastures dairy currently averages 569 bacteria per millilitre, far below the allowable limit. Their milk is clean as a result of high standards of animal husbandry and hygienic milk processing facilities.

Unpasteurised milk is also regulated in the UK. Farmers selling raw milk to the public must hold a license to do so and their milk must be tested at least quarterly. Dairy herds must also be completely TB and Brucellosis free. It is also common to find raw milk farmers ensuring their cows are fed on grass, hay and silage in preference to concentrated feeds to ensure they keep them as healthy as possible. A farmers business relies on his raw milk sales. He cannot afford to be lax in his standards as a single case of illness as a result of drinking raw milk would destroy his business. This powerful motivation keeps the standards of farming high and the milk production system clean.

It is perfectly acceptable to have regulations governing raw milk production. It is important to ensure that standards are maintained and the risk to the public is kept at a minimum. However, it seems grossly unfair that such a strict eye is kept on raw milk, whilst other foods that are currently delivering a much greater portion of the food poisoning episodes in modern society are not subject to the same level of scrutiny. With raw salad vegetables contributing a sizeable portion of illness, should we not be arguing for a tighter regulations on these foods being consumed raw? That would only be fair! If you think this is ridiculous then consider the faulty logic behind the long held belief that raw milk is somehow inherently more dangerous to consume than other raw foods!

Video: Ben Pratt talks Calories

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Hi All,

Here is a video of Ben Pratt from Natural Food Finder talking about calories!


Barry Groves – Natural Food Finder Conference

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Hi All,

In this short clip from the Natural Food Finder Conference, Barry Groves PhD. talks about the evidence to support the use of low carb diets.

This is a very interesting clip and if any of you have not looked up Barry Groves work, it is well worth a bit of time on a google search!


Pete Cohen at Natural Food Finder Conference

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Hi All,

Here is a video from a very engaging speaker, if any of you have not seen Pete speak you need to.

This video is a must watch about how we mentally relate to food, this really is a must see!



Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Hi All,

As you know i am a massive Kettlebell fan, i have just got myself a set of these club bells and have incoporated them into my training.  I was not sure abot them at first but after having played about with them for a couple of months I think we are about ready to realse them onto my client base.

So just to prepare youfor what is to come have a look at some of the great exercises that can be done with club/power bells.  The video i have posted here is from Premier, one of the few training companies that is currently offering a power bell course!



Natural Food Finder Conferance

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Hi All,

Just came across this great clip from the Natural Food Finder Conference, it is Ben Pratt talking about the calories in, calories out hypothesis.