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False fat, and bogus advice

10.may.05, Brae Surgeoner, Commentary from the Food Safety Network

10.may.05, Brae Surgeoner, Commentary from the Food Safety Network
I am addicted to celebrity gossip.
It's a pleasant diversion from the realities of graduate studies, foodborne illness, and my own humble existence.
I have the web browser on my computer set to load MSN ( ) each time I open Internet Explorer. The entertainment section is continuously updated with the latest developments in Hollywood. I’m a firm believer that I knew Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston had called it quits even before some of the Friends cast.
The other morning, it wasn’t the confessional from Pat O'Brien, the alleged Paula Abdul scandal or the fate of those lining up for the next Star Wars installment that caught my eye, but the highlights, specifically the catch phrase, "Tips to drop false fat."
As a graduate student studying food safety at the University of Guelph, I stop to read (or at least skim) anything and everything related to food and diet.
My first question when I saw this headline was, why haven’t I heard about false fat, and if I’ve got it, how can I lose it?
According to the author, a purported expert in the fields of fitness and nutrition, false fat is the water that we retain as a reaction to consuming foods like wheat, sugar and dairy. And if we want to trim the size of our waists (as many of us do), we need to cut back, or totally purge these foods from our plates.
The author admits that dietitians are quick to counter any advice that goes against the philosophy of Canada’s Food Guide, among other things, recommends between 2 to 4 servings of milk products daily.
So how much milk should we be drinking if we want to lose false fat? According to this doctrine: none. We should eliminate it all together, especially cow’s milk.
Doing away with dairy is not the most alarming issue to me, albeit I don’t buy it for a second. What scares me is that this particular sage insists that raw milk is OK, "the wonderful, nutrient-rich, unprocessed certified raw milk” that unfortunately is not widely available, just the pasteurized stuff.
People can get sick and occasionally die from drinking raw milk.
Last month four cases of E.coli O157:H7 were linked to the consumption of raw (unpasteurized) milk purchased from the back of a van in Barrie, Ontario. One of these cases involved a seven-year old child. Lucky for those involved there were no fatalities, but you can bet the excruciating stomach cramps and diarrhea felt like death at the time.
While most people recover from E.coli O157:H7, 5-10% of cases go on to develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) which is characterized by kidney failure.
Earlier this year the New York State health department warned against consumption of some imported Mexican cheeses made from unpasteurized milk after identifying 35 cases from 2001 to 2004, including one infant death in 2004, attributed to Mycobacterium bovis, a form of TB found in cattle.
And in 2004, an Edmonton-area cheese producer abandoned the business after a Gouda cheese made from unpasteurized milk led to 11 cases of E.coli O157:H7 poisoning, including a two-year-old girl who developed HUS from the infection.
There are too many other such cases to mention.
Under federal law in Canada it is illegal to sell or distribute raw milk because of the risk of transmitting disease from microorganisms like E. coli, salmonella and campylobacter, which are controlled during the process of pasteurization. And in Ontario, if you’re caught selling, or even giving away raw milk, the fine can be as much as $5,000.
Ontario’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Sheila Basrur, has a great quote published in a Canadian Press report about the underground milk market, ``Some people feel that unpasteurized milk is either not bad for their health (they don't believe the health risks) or they actually believe that it has healing properties because it's all natural and untainted by government interference.”
Raw milk drinkers believe the pasteurized milk found on grocery store shelves lacks the essential enzymes and nutrients necessary to absorb calcium - research shows this is simply not the case. The only things lacking in pasteurized milk are the bacteria that make us seriously ill.
The Internet is a remarkable channel for disseminating a diversity of health information. It’s cheap, accessible at all hours, and easy to navigate. But users beware: there is a wealth of poor-quality information, and it begins on the popular pages, like MSN. Celebrity gossip is a diversion; health gossip can make people sick.
Brae Surgeoner is a graduate student with the Food Safety Network at the University of Guelph. The Food Safety Network's national toll-free line for obtaining food safety information is1-866-50-FSNET (1-866-503-7638) and further information is available at