The FDA declared in August 2003 that it is safe to spray lactoferrin, a naturally occurring milk protein, onto raw beef to help prevent infections from disease-causing bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella. The USDA has also given the all clear. This idea makes use of one of natures mechanisms: the lactoferrin in cow’s milk normally helps prevent suckling calves from getting sick.
Using this gentle approach may prove to be a great solution to the problem of keeping meat safe while avoiding the overuse of antibiotics in livestock. The amount of added lactoferrin that remains after spraying is comparable to the amount naturally found in beef.
Cows aren’t the only ones that make lactoferrin. Human milk contains human lactoferrin, one of nature’s ways to protect nursing babies from infection. We humans are designed to be getting lactoferrin for at least the first year or two of life. The first two years, while the immune system is maturing, is a peak time for infections.
I’d love to see lactoferrin available for infants and toddlers who have weaned off breast milk, to continue this gentle protection – especially if they are prone to infections such as ear infections, or are trying to fight off an infection such as diarrhea.