Ottawa man leading campaign for raw milk registration
No unpasteurized milk of any kind
can be sold in Canada, but some claim it has health benefits
BY FRANCES ANDERSON
Ontario Farmer staff (Nov. 22, 2005)
James McLaren limits his diet
to nothing but raw food and says he’s never felt better. And that’s why he’s
leading a crusade to get “nature’s most perfect food” available in its natural
McLaren, who’s an Ottawa resident, began working life as an accountant, but is now developing an alternative health practice.
“About five years ago, I became a vegetarian, at age 37, but I never felt as good in my body as when I ate meat. So I switched my vegetarian diet to a raw vegetarian diet and I felt like I did when I was 10. It’s a quantum change in your body,” he said, during a phone interview.
But for a complete diet, McLaren needed raw milk. “I ran into a brick wall. I found a way to get it on the black market and began a crusade to change the laws.”
McLaren started a consumer advocacy group: the Natural Milk Coalition of Canada - and a web site: www.naturalmilk.org.
And this spring, McLaren met with the officials in the Food Directorate of Health Canada, and learned that he could bring raw milk forward as a novel food. So, with the help of an American raw milk advocacy group, the Weston A. Price Foundation, McLaren intends to pursue this registration.
The challenge will be providing the science to demonstrate the safety of raw milk. There is epidemiological data; that is, information from the study of populations. But Health Canada won’t accept epidemiological studies; they want laboratory testing, McLaren said.
But a novel food can also be approached as a process. It’s at this point that McLaren decided he had to involve milk producers. If they can establish standards for producing safe raw milk, and do microbial testing to demonstrate these standards are effective, they can likely satisfy novel food requirements.
The other reason that McLaren is reaching out to milk producers is that applications for novel foods usually come from the manufacturers, since they’re the ones making the product.
And so he’s approached goat and sheep milk producers. Neither have a quota system and sheep milk production isn’t even provincially regulated yet, although the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food has been working to develop regulations.
Larry Kupecz, who heads the Ontario Daiiy Sheep Association, is intrigued with the idea of making raw milk a novel food.
“You can’t go through a month as a sheep milk farmer without someone calling and asking for sheep’s milk - and we can’t sell it to them,” said Kupecz.
The regulations of the federal Food and Drugs Act stipulate that “no person shall sell the normal lacteal secretion obtained from the mammary gland of the cow, genus Bos, or of any other animal... unless (it) has been pasteurized.”
In Ontario, Section 18(1) of Health Protection and Promotion Act states that “no persons shall sell, offer for sale, deliver or distribute milk or cream that has not been pasteurized or sterilized in a plant that is licensed.”
Pasteurization laws date back to the 1920s, to combat tuberculosis, infant diarrhea and undulant fever, among other diseases.
However, advocates for raw milk usage argue that with proper animal nutrition, specifically pasture fed cattle, and hygienic production methods, raw milk is superior to pasteurized milk. Pasteurization reduces the amount B and C vitamins and folate, and changes the structure of the whey protein, so it’s not as bioavailable. And, they believe raw milk consumption is beneficial for some types of allergies and asthma, among other chronic conditions.
The Price Foundation, which has some members in Ontario, is leading an American campaign for “Real milk” with the goal of establishing “universal access to clean certified raw milk” as part of its larger mandate of “restoring nutrient-dense foods to the human diet.”
© Copyright 2005 Ontario Farmer