Milk, Mad Cows, & Choosing Organic

Milk, Mad Cows, & Choosing Organic

When a nursing woman has a contagious illness, it’s usually safer to keep nursing . perhaps because the breast milk does not contain the germ and also because the milk does contain immune properties to fight the infection.

In some situations, however, such as a mother with active phase hepatitis C, HIV, and HTLV-1 infections, it may be wisest to suspend nursing to prevent giving your child the infection. What about cows with mad cow disease? Is their milk safe for our children? The U.S. FDA issued a Christmas Eve 2003 statement reassuring that scientific data suggest that milk from infected cows does not transmit mad cow disease to cows, humans, or other animals. Mad cow disease is the popular name for BSE (bovine spongioform encephalopathy), a fatal degenerative disease in cattle.

The organism that causes this in cattle can cause a similar disease in humans called vCJD (variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease). Humans can catch it by eating meat products made from infected cattle. But milk from infected cows tests negative for the prion that causes the infection. And when milk from infected cows is fed to cows or other animals, no sign of infection is seen. And of course, all animals known to carry the organism are removed from the food supply.

Unfortunately, however, animals with BSE might not be detected in a timely manner. In some countries, such as Japan, 100 percent of cattle are tested before they enter the food supply. By contrast, in 2003 the U.S. tested less than 0.06 percent of slaughtered cattle . those deemed to be at the highest risk. Nevertheless, these suspect cattle were allowed to enter the food supply before the test results were available. The first animal that tested positive for BSE in the U.S. was slaughtered on December 9. Meat from that animal and 19 others slaughtered at the same time had already been shipped to 9 states and Guam before the tests were reported positive 2 weeks later. Testing procedures are likely to change in 2004. Meanwhile, thankfully, the number of infected cattle appears to be small.

And as the FDA reassures, ‘National and international public health organizations continue to consistently declare milk and milk products safe, whether or not the country producing them has had cases’ of mad cow disease.

BSE is thought to enter cattle herds through feed containing contaminated animal byproducts. Organic livestock standards require that animals are fed appropriate 100 percent organic feed. They must be allowed to graze outdoors in organic fields. They may not be given hormones to promote growth. If the cattle are sick or injured, they must be treated, but cannot then be sold as organic. When you buy certified organic products you are not buying products from the sick animals in the herd. The entire process, from before the animal is born till the day it dies, is designed to be healthy. I recommend choosing organic meat, milk, yogurt, eggs, and other animal products if the option is available. Especially in countries where conventional handling standards have led to the presence of mad cow disease.

Dr. Alan Greene

As a father of four himself, Dr. Greene has devoted himself to freely giving real answers to parents' real questions -- from questions about those all too common childhood conditions to those that address the most recent and rare pediatric illnesses. His answers combine cutting edge science, practical wisdom, warm empathy, and a deep respect for parents, children, and the environment. He is also an electrifying public speaker, and has personally touched many during his talks in North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

Dr. Greene is a graduate of Princeton University and the University of California at San Francisco. Upon completion of his pediatric residency program at Children's Hospital Medical Center of Northern California he served as Chief Resident. He entered primary care pediatrics in January 1993.

Dr. Greene is the Past President of The Organic Center and on the Board of Directors of Healthy Child Healthy World. He is a founding partner of the Collaborative on Health and the Environment. He also consults for the Environmental Working Group.

In 1995, he launched, cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site” on the Internet. His award-winning site has received over 80 million Unique Users from parents, concerned family members, students, and healthcare professionals. In addition to being the founder of, he is the Medical Director for HealthTap.

In 2010 Dr. Greene founded the WhiteOut Movement to change how babies in the United States are fed. In 2012 he founded TICC TOCC - Transitioning Immediate Cord Clamping To Optimal Cord Clamping. He is also the founder of KidGlyphs, a free iPhone app that provides a tool for young children to express themselves beyond their verbal skills while teaching them important language skills.

Dr. Greene is the Founding President of the Society for Participatory Medicine and has served as both President and Board Chair of Hi-Ethics (Health Internet Ethics. He is on the Board of Directors for Healthy Child Healthy World, The Lunchbox Project, and The Society for Participatory Medicine. He has also served as an advisor to URAC for both their inaugural and their updated health web site accreditation program. He is a founding member of the e-Patient Scholars Working Group, and a founding board member of the Center for Information Therapy.

Dr. Greene is a regular columnist for Parenting Magazine. He is also the Pediatric Expert for The People’s Pharmacy (as heard on NPR) and Healing Quest (seen on PBS stations). He was the original Pediatric Expert for both Yahoo! and iVillage.

Dr. Greene is the author of Feeding Baby Green (Wiley, 2009), Raising Baby Green (Wiley, 2007), From First Kicks to First Steps (McGraw-Hill, 2004), The Parent's Complete Guide to Ear Infections (People's Medical Society, 1997), and a co-author of The A.D.A.M. Illustrated Family Health Guide (A.D.A.M., Inc., 2004). He is the medical expert for three additional books, The Parent's Soup A-to-Z Guide to Your New Baby, (Contemporary Books, 1998) The Parent's Soup A-to-Z Guide to Your Toddler, (Contemporary Books, 1999), and The Mother of All Baby Books, (Hungry Minds, Inc., 2002).

Dr. Greene is a frequent keynote speaker at important events such as Health 2.0 2011 held in San Diego, CA, IFOAM 2008 (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements), held in Modena Italy, the first European Internet health conference, held in Maastricht, the first International eHealth Association Conference, held in Jeddah, and the largest e-Healthcare World Conference, held in Las Vegas, and the first Green Power Baby Shower, held in Hollywood. Dr. Greene also appears frequently on TV, radio, websites, and in newspapers and magazines around the world, including such venues as the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, Fox and Friends, The Dr. Oz Show, CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC network news, NPR, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Time Magazine, Parade, Parenting, Child, Baby Talk, Working Mother, Better Home's & Gardens, and the Reader's Digest.

Dr. Greene loves to think about challenging ideas, he enjoys being where nothing manmade can be seen, and he wears green socks.

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