A recent study by Marler Clark to show that the incidence of illness due to consumption of raw cheese is more a statistical manipulation than fact, according to Davdi Gumpert of www.grist.org.
The report by Marler Clark, a product liability firm, fails to explain that illnesses from pasteurised cheeses are nearly the same as for raw milk cheeses. Gumpert uses statistics from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to show that for the past 26 years, between 1973 and 1999 there was not a single reported case of illness from either. And in the last decade the increase in illness has been from both pasteurised and raw milk cheeses, with a slight majority with raw milk cheese.
In 2008, there was not a single reported case of illness from raw milk cheese, but there were 45 reported cases of illness from pasteurised cheese, which indicates that contamination occurs after pasteurisation. Between 2000-2009 there were slightly more illness reports from raw milk cheese, one person died from pasteurised cheese poisoning. These statistics show that whether raw or pasteurised, cheese can still cause foodborne illness – and that raw cheese is not more dangerous than pasteurised cheese.
This report may serve to reinforce the condemnation of raw cheese as a dangerous food, and thus risks it being outlawed completely. Like raw milk, raw cheese is not inherently dangerous because it is raw. Poor handling and unsanitary conditions are the primary causes of foodborne illness in both raw and pasteurised products.
First published in May 2011
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