Warm Southern Breeze

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Milk… it STILL does a body good!

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Food color.

What a compelling subject, eh?

Doubtless, it’s a spell-binding topic, and certainly one bound to keep readers’ rapt attention!

Thrilling and exciting!

Compelling even!

Except that, things aren’t always what they seem.

First, however, you’ll need to be buttered up for this one.

In an unobtrusive article cross-published in Smithsonian Magazine (also at https://www.ZocaloPublicSquare.org/2020/01/15/when-the-government-decided-the-spread-on-your-toast-should-be-pink/ideas/essay/), author Ai Hisano addresses food color.

Instead of being professionally prepared as a chef, restaurateur, food historian, or nutritional anthropologist, author Ai Hisano is Senior Lecturer at the Graduate School of Economics at Kyoto University, Japan, and has been the Newcomen Postdoctoral Fellow in Business History at Harvard Business School, where she most recently authored Visualizing Taste: How Business Changed the Look of What You Eat.

Though her article isn’t difficult to swallow, it was rather bland and under-cooked, because while she did the job fairly well enough sharing some interesting tid-bit details about the history of oleomargarine, she failed overall to address the underlying concern – and therefore the premise of – the rationale for the existence of laws regulating the color of oleomargarine.

Again,
the unspoken and underlying concern
for the color of margarine
– the question
Why was it a concern?
–  failed to be addressed.

That concern is fraud.

Sadly, food fraud remains a concern today – even in the United States.

For example, producers of plant-based non-dairy imitation milk products such as “almond milk” are rapidly being caught in the cross hairs of public intrigue with their highly-processed, made-in-a-chemistry laboratory pseudo-natural products by making numerous varieties of claims about their product(s), none of which are proven, nor represent any improvement in public health, though their marketing obliquely intimates as much.

It is inherently fraudulent to label a product as being a certain thing when it is not.

That is plain and simple.

And I write this with all sincerity: It makes me glad to know that, inspired by previous Commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, MD, the current and 24th Commissioner, Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, MD, will be – as a matter of law, and policy to protect Public Health – continuing a crack-down on non-dairy products that are labeled as “milk” when instead, they are highly-processed, plant-based imitation chemical concoctions.

Highly-processed, plant-based, non-dairy,
imitation chemical concoctions
deliberately mislabeled as
“milk”…

As reported by Thrillist.com on 18 July 2018, “In a keynote address at Politico’s Pro Summit earlier this week, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb revealed that the current administration has set in motion a plan to crack down on the use of the term “milk” in the marketing of nondairy products like soy and almond beverages. As a result, he said that the agency will soon release official guidance on new “identity policies” that would restrict the ability to market something as milk to products derived from lactating animals.”

In other words, he would apply common sense by establishing a rule that utilizes an unquestionable, universally-accepted scientific standard, which states that, if it didn’t come from a mammal, it can’t be labeled “milk.”

Then, to remove all doubt, and to forever settle the matter,
Dr. Gottlieb then stated the obvious by saying,
“An almond doesn’t lactate, I will confess.”

It’s.

Just.

That.

Simple.

Period.

You learned that in Grade School – that warm-blooded animals which birth live offspring and have mammary glands are called “MAMMALS.”

It is for that reason, that the word “mammal” is derived from the word “mammary,” referring to the glands present in any warm-blooded female species which gives live birth -and- has mammary glands which produce milk.

Not almonds.

Not soy.

Not oatmeal.

Milk.

A naturally occurring liquid food produced by the mammary glands which is delivered via breasts, teats, and nipples in female mammals following gestation and birth, which is naturally fed to the suckling newborn, and through pre-toddlerhood to a certain age around toddlerhood most often, though rarely beyond that stage.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has defined milk in Code of Federal Regulations Title 21, PART 131 — MILK AND CREAM, Subpart B–Requirements for Specific Standardized Milk and Cream, Sec. 131.110 Milk.

“(a) Description. Milk is the lacteal secretion, practically free from colostrum, obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows. Milk that is in final package form for beverage use shall have been pasteurized or ultrapasteurized, and shall contain not less than 8 1/4 percent milk solids not fat and not less than 3 1/4 percent milkfat. Milk may have been adjusted by separating part of the milkfat therefrom, or by adding thereto cream, concentrated milk, dry whole milk, skim milk, concentrated skim milk, or nonfat dry milk. Milk may be homogenized.”

Milk naturally contains proteins, sugars, water, fats, vitamins, minerals, antibodies, and more, all which are utilized by the growing human body. And the mammary gland is an amazing natural example of the principle of Supply-and-Demand, because as long as a demand is made upon it, a supply will always be made to meet that demand.

But again, let’s consider the article.

Ms. Hisano wrote that “When margarine was first introduced to the U.S. market in 1873 as a cheaper substitute for butter, dairy producers, [who were] fearful of intense competition and a price decline for butter, lobbied against the manufacturing and marketing of margarine. One favored way of limiting margarine was to restrict the color of margarine, so it would not look like butter.”

The National Geographic magazine in August 13, 2014, published an historical overview of margarine by author Rebecca Rupp, who wrote “The Butter Wars: When Margarine Was Pink,” and did a much better job of explaining the origin, and concerns of margarine production by writing that,

“Butter, from its ancient inception, had nothing much in the way of competition until 1869. In that year French chemist Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès–spurred on by a hefty financial prize offered by Emperor Louis Napoleon III–patented a lower priced spread made from beef tallow. He dubbed it oleomargarine–from the Latin oleum, meaning beef fat, and the Greek margarite, meaning pearl, this last for its presumably pearlescent luster. The Emperor was hoping that a cheaper butter alternative would benefit the lower classes and the military, neither of which seems to have appreciated it much. Mège-Mouriès sold his patent to Jurgens, a Dutch butter-making company, which eventually became part of Unilever, still one of the world’s major producers of margarine. He never profited from his discovery, and died (poor) in 1880. He must have found it infuriating that he lived long enough to see his margarine attaining international fame.

“Margarine arrived in the United States in the 1870s, to the approbation of the broke, and to the universal horror of American dairy farmers. Within the next decade there were 37 companies in the United States enthusiastically manufacturing margarine; and “margarine” and “butter” had become fighting words. In 1886, passionate lobbying from dairy industry led to the federal Margarine Act, which slapped a restrictive tax on margarine and demanded that margarine manufacturers pay prohibitive licensing fees. Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ohio went a step further and banned margarine outright.

The Butter Wars: When Margarine Was Pink

Author Rebcca Rupp, who holds a Ph.D. in cell biology and biochemistry, wrote that when oleomargarine was invented, it was not done as a tool to put dairy farmers out of business, but to be a food supplement for the poor. Her August 13, 2014 National Geographic article, was a more in-depth treatment than appeared in the January 15, 2020 edition of ZocaloPublicSquare.org.

“Tomatoes are red, margarine is yellow, and oranges, are, well, orange. We expect certain foods to be in certain colors. What we don’t realize is that these colors are not necessarily a product of nature but rather of historical controversies and deliberate decisions by various actors—including the government.

“The story of how America’s federal government helped select specific colors for certain foods dates to late 19th century, when new processed foods were introduced. The color of margarine is a particularly powerful example of how the intersection of political power, industry competition, and regulation determined the look of what people ate.

“When margarine was first introduced to the U.S. market in 1873 as a cheaper substitute for butter, dairy producers, fearful of intense competition and a price decline for butter, lobbied against the manufacturing and marketing of margarine. One favored way of limiting margarine was to restrict the color of margarine, so it would not look like butter.

“By 1898, 26 states had regulated margarine under so-called “anti-color” laws, which prohibited the manufacture and sale of yellow-colored margarine (uncolored products were allowed). Other states went further: Vermont (1884), New Hampshire (1891), and South Dakota (1891) passed laws that required margarine to be colored pink.

“Margarine color wasn’t just a matter for the states to decide. The federal government enacted the first national margarine legislation in 1886. The Oleomargarine Act permitted the addition of color to margarine but restricted margarine production and sale by levying a tax of two cents per pound on margarine whether it was colored or uncolored. The act proved ineffective, however, because inspection took time and money. And that was more than state inspectors could manage, according to the Sixteenth Annual Report of the Michigan Dairymen’s Association, published in 1900.

“So, to make margarine restriction more stringent and effective, in 1902 Congress passed an amendment to the 1886 act, levying a higher tax on colored margarine. It enforced a 10-cent tax on “artificially colored” margarine while reducing the tax on uncolored products from two cents to one-fourth of a cent.” …

Food fraud is real in the United States, even in this era, and often goes unnoticed. The problem of food fraud flies under the radar because most food purchasers and consumers are unaware of the food they purchase, or how the food they purchase could be different from what the label claims, or may otherwise be deliberately misrepresented.

Take the March 2017 case of a Massachusetts man, Jan Polanik who filed two class action lawsuits against 23 locations of the Dunkin’ Doughnuts coffee shop chain in Central and Eastern Massachusetts. According to the complaint, the franchise locations served him “margarine or a butter substitute” instead of butter with the bagels he purchased between June 2012 and June 2016, even though he paid 25¢ extra for butter, and was never told he was being given a butter substitute.

Describing the terms of the class-action settlement, attorney Thomas G. Shapioro said, “The main thrust of the case, really, is to get the stores, and hopefully Dunkin’ Donuts generally, to change that practice and not deceive people. It’s the basic principle that if something is misrepresented to you, it should be corrected.”

Dairy fraud is taken very seriously in Wisconsin, where state laws there forbid the unannounced use of butter substitutes, which is punished by fines and prison time.

New York Times author Daniel Victor noted in April 2017 how serious Wisconsin’s anti-dairy fraud laws were by writing that,

“Butter-specific laws crack down on would-be margarine hawkers. An unannounced margarine-for-butter swap at a restaurant is expressly forbidden, punishable by a fine of up to $500 and three months in prison for the first offense, and as much as $1,000 and a year in prison for subsequent offenses. Margarine cannot be served to students, patients or inmates in state facilities.

“Even the in-state butter selection is limited. Kerrygold, an Irish brand, cannot be sold in Wisconsin grocery stores because it has not been graded for quality by state or federal authorities, causing some butter bandits to carry bricks over state lines. A group of residents filed a lawsuit in March challenging the 64-year-old law.”

Virginia Eckles, a 1919 debutante, in costume as a Dutch dairy maid with Holstein “Bunnie,” in an image made by Harris & Ewing photography studio at the dairy of the Old Soldiers’ Home near Washington, D.C., the site where the present Washington Hospital Center is situated. This was one of many photos used to promote a Mardi Gras Fete at the Wardman Park Hotel to benefit the free milk fund for the babies of France. At the event, Miss Courtney Lett’s debutantes dressed in milkmaid costumes and wooden shoes as part of the milk theme. The fund-raiser was able to raise over $9,000 for the Free Milk for France fund.

Tom Balmer said “imitators attempting to capitalize on dairy’s excellent reputation for delivering flavor, wholesomeness and nutrition” are to blame for health problems unjustly placed at dairy’s feet.

The American Butter Institute spokesman said he was unaware of any other states with butter laws, noted that dairy products of all kinds are being attacked, and said, “Our friends in the milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream industries are currently waging their own battles with substitutes which are frequently inferior in terms of taste, performance and (especially) nutrition. As a result, we can foresee similar issues arising, particularly in the food service sector, if labeling and product identity messaging are less than clear.”

Even healthcare professionals agree, butter is better in moderation, than use of margarines containing any trans-fats, which are common in margarines, but absent in butter.

Harvard Medical School even weighed in on the Butter vs Margarine argument, and stated that “Your goal is to limit intake of saturated fats and to avoid trans fats altogether.”

The Mayo Clinic agrees, and wrote “Look for a spread that doesn’t have trans fats and has the least amount of saturated fat.”

Wisconsin, long known as the “Dairy State,” takes Public Health seriously, and on a recent inspection of a farm there, officials from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), and from the Sauk County Public Health Department cited a dairy farm operation which was accused of selling unprocessed “raw” milk to the public. Unbeknownst to the state, however, the customers had all paid a small fee to become part owners of the farming operation, and thus, were exempt from laws requiring Pasteurization and processing of their milk – since they were the only ones consuming it.

Wisconsin dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger, a 41-year-old father of ten, started a Private Buyer’s Club for raw milk in 2003 after “some friends from town — who were retired farmers — wanted to continue getting this raw milk that they had for years. By word of mouth, it grew from there,” he said.

Legally, Club Members were not customers, but were instead business partners, and leased animals from Mr. Herschberger, who, in return for the service of his family’s boarding and caring for the Club’s dairy cows on his 157 acre farm, they paid certain agreed-upon fees each time they came by to pick up the products of their cattle, namely, raw milk. For that reason, he did not need a retail food establishment license – because no retail sales were occurring. At the time, about 100 families were Club members.

However, the state apparently was unaware of his business relationship with the Buyer’s Club and arrested him in June 2010. He faced stiff penalties – a maximum combined penalty of $13,000 and/or two and a half years’ jail time. All for 2000 pounds (about 300 gallons) of raw milk.

When the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection visited his Loganville, WI farm located about 50 miles northwest of Madison, they found about 300 gallons of raw milk from his cows in tanks. Because the officials deemed the unprocessed, un-Pasteurized milk to be “adulterated and misbranded,” they dyed the milk blue to thwart sales. State and Health Department Officisls also put a hold order on the milk, which essentially condemned it to spoil.

Only 10 states legally allow retail sale of raw milk, and Wisconsin is not one of them.

When Wisconsin authorities inspected Hershberger’s farm, it occurred only a matter of weeks after then Governor Jim Doyle vetoed a bill that would have allowed limited sales of raw milk.

Hershberger, owner of Grazin’ Acres Farm in Loganville, is widely known for his raw milk advocacy, said none of the charges against him were directly related to the ban on raw milk sales, which his supporters say is what attracted state regulators’ attention.

Ultimately, he was acquitted of selling and producing dairy products without a license because the consumers of the the products were considered owner-members of his farm, according to the terms of a contract between Mr. Herschberger and Club Members, who also had paid a fee to purchase a share in ownership rights to the dairy cattle.

Though he was cleared on the other charges, the reason for his appeal was to clear his name of the May 2013 misdemeanor conviction after an eight-day jury trial at the Sauk County Courthouse in Baraboo. But the State Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

Herschberger’s Attorney, Elizabeth Rich of Plymouth, said she hopes his case will affect the level of deference that courts show government agencies.

She said the defense wanted to show jurors that the state inspectors were biased against Hershberger when they raided his farm. As evidence of that bias, the hold order which DATCP Field Service Director Jackie Owens placed on Hershberger’s dairy products declared the items were “adulterated” and “misbranded.”

However, Attorney Rich said that Director Owens “knew they weren’t. She knew the conditions at the farm were spanking clean. The items were not misbranded. They were not adulterated, not deleterious to human health.”

The charges stemmed from a lengthy and intensive investigation conducted during 2009 and 2010 by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP). The investigation was capped by a raid on Hershberger’s Grazin’ Acres farm by DATCP agents, accompanied by armed sheriffs, on June 2, 2010, during which DATCP issued a holding order barring Hershberger from even moving any of the food in his small farm store in Loganville, WI.

Rich noted that judges often do not challenge the investigators’ conclusions because they are deemed to have expert knowledge.

So, one ought not have a cow, or at least not one like POTUS William Howard Taft did.

Taft kept a Holstein dairy cow named Pauline Wayne – which was his own personal dairy cow that grazed on the White House lawn – was the source of all milk (raw) consumed in the White House until she was shipped back home to Wisconsin when the WH switched to Pasteurized milk.

Poor cow.

Put of a good job by a Republican POTUS.

 

One Response to “Milk… it STILL does a body good!”

  1. […] The United States’ food safety and health laws have historically prevented such abusive, deceptive practices from occurring. It doesn’t mean, however, that it never occurs. I have written about this subject previously. […]

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