Breastfeeding moms with COVID-19 pass antibodies to their Babies

Breastfeeding women with COVID-19 don’t transmit the SARS-CoV-2 virus through their milk, but do pass on milk-borne antibodies that can neutralize the virus, a new study indicates.

Researchers analyzed 37 milk samples submitted by 18 women diagnosed with COVID-19. None of the milk samples contained the virus, while nearly two thirds of the samples did contain two antibodies specific to the virus.

Critically, the findings provide evidence that COVID-19 positive mothers should not be separated from their newborn children. At the onset of the pandemic, major health organizations provided contradictory advice on the necessity of separation was necessary.

You’ll find the details of the study over here. Good news, sound science, is always worth checking out.

20% of Americans don’t know hamburger is beef. Ask them about chocolate milk!

❝ Seven percent of all American adults believe that chocolate milk comes from brown cows, according to a nationally representative online survey…

If you do the math, that works out to 16.4 million misinformed, milk-drinking people. The equivalent of the population of Pennsylvania…does not know that chocolate milk is milk, cocoa and sugar.

❝ But while the survey has attracted snorts and jeers from some corners…the most surprising thing about this figure may actually be that it isn’t higher.

❝ For decades, observers in agriculture, nutrition and education have griped that many Americans are basically agriculturally illiterate. They don’t know where food is grown, how it gets to stores — or even, in the case of chocolate milk, what’s in it.

One Department of Agriculture study, commissioned in the early ’90s, found that nearly 1 in 5 adults did not know that hamburgers are made from beef. Many more lacked familiarity with basic farming facts, like how big U.S. farms typically are and what food animals eat.

Experts in ag education aren’t convinced that much has changed in the intervening decades.

❝ …Studies have shown that people who live in agricultural communities tend to know a bit more about where their food comes from, as do people with higher education levels and household incomes.

But in some populations, confusion about basic food facts can skew pretty high. When one team of researchers interviewed fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders at an urban California school, they found that more than half of them didn’t know pickles were cucumbers, or that onions and lettuce were plants. Four in 10 didn’t know that hamburgers came from cows. And 3 in 10 didn’t know that cheese is made from milk…

❝ Today, many Americans only experience food as an industrial product that doesn’t look much like the original animal or plant: The USDA says orange juice is the most popular “fruit” in America, and processed potatoes — in the form of french fries and chips — rank among the top vegetables.

“Indifference about the origins and production of foods became a norm of urban culture, laying the groundwork for a modern food sensibility that would spread all across America in the decades that followed,” Vileisis wrote, of the 20th century. “Within a relatively brief period, the average distance from farm to kitchen had grown from a short walk down the garden path to a convoluted, 1,500-mile energy-guzzling journey by rail and truck.”

RTFA. Makes a few good points about understanding agriculture. Overall, it reinforces my perception of American education. We make ourselves look good – compared to the least educated 3rd World countries – on the basis of testing for what our children are taught. Both the testing and subject matter are lacking as far as I’m concerned. The tidy little curriculum that satisfies a Middle American education has little or nothing to do with a global economy, the needs and future of all of the humanity on this planet, citizens of Earth.

Big Dairy + Nanomaterials = Microscopic pieces of stuff in your food

The rapid emergence of nanotechnology suggests that size does, indeed, matter. It turns out that if you break common substances like silver and nickel into really, really tiny particles—measured in nanometers, which are billionths of a meter—they behave in radically different ways. For example, regular silver, the stuff of fancy tableware, doesn’t have any obvious place in sock production. But nano-size silver particles apparently do. According to boosters, when embedded in the fabric of socks, microscopic silver particles are “strongly antibacterial to a wide range of pathogens, absorb sweat, and by killing bacteria help eliminate unpleasant foot odor…”

According to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies—a joint venture of Virginia Tech and the Wilson Center—there are more than 1,600 nanotechnology-based consumer products on the market today. If SmartSilver Anti-Odor Nanotechnology Underwear sounds like a rather intimate application for this novel technology, consider that the PEN database lists 96 food items currently on US grocery shelves that contain unlabeled nano ingredients. Examples include Dannon Greek Plain Yogurt, Silk Original Soy Milk, Rice Dream Rice Drink, Hershey’s Bliss Dark Chocolate, and Kraft’s iconic American Cheese Singles, all of which now contain nano-size titanium dioxide. As recently as 2008, only eight US food products were known to contain nanoparticles, according to a recent analysis from Friends of the Earth—a more than tenfold increase in just six years.

All of which raises the question of safety. Radically miniaturized particles are attractive to the food and textile industries for their novel properties. Nano-size titanium dioxide, for example, is used as a color enhancer—it makes white foods like yogurt and soy milk whiter, and brightens dark products like chocolate. But what unintended effects might it have?

…Remarkably, the US Food and Drug Administration, which oversees the safety of the food supply, both 1) acknowledges that nanoparticles pose risks that are substantially different from those of their regular-sized counterparts, and 2) has done nothing to slow down their rapid move into the food supply.

So what’s the remedy? Rather than require rigorous safety studies before companies can lace food with nanoparticles, the FDA’s policy draft proposes “nonbinding recommendations” for such research. Even that rather porous safety net doesn’t yet exist—the agency still hasn’t implemented the draft proposal it released more than two years ago.

No one can say with scientific conviction that nanomaterials are positive or negative in their effect on the processed foods we delight in. Still, choices mostly made for cosmetic reasons shouldn’t be devoid of regulation and standards.

Next time you feel like hollering at the FDA [almost daily in my household] give ’em a nudge about this one.

Thanks, Mike

Plant-based alternatives to yogurt

Researchers at the Universitat Politècnica de València have obtained new products fermented with probiotic bacteria from grains and nuts — what is known as plant-based or vegetable “milks” — which are an alternative to conventional yogurts. The products are specially designed for people with allergies to cow’s milk, lactose or gluten intolerance, as well as children and pregnant women.

From the laboratories at the Institute of Food Engineering for Development, the team has worked with almonds, oats and hazelnuts and soon will evaluate the use of walnuts and chestnuts as raw material for these new products…

The in vitro studies conducted show how some of the products developed have anti-inflammatory properties in intestine cells, which could alleviate allergic reactions caused by food, and increase the bioavailability of iron. The caseins of cow’s milk as well as being on the list of allergens components hinder the absorption of iron…

Furthermore, the research conducted offers new clues to improve commercial plant-based “milks” available in the market today, which have deficiencies related to low physical stability during storage…

These plant “milks” are characterized by a profile of healthy fatty acids and carbohydrates with low glycaemic index suitable for diabetics. Moreover, they constitute an important source of vitamins B and E, antioxidant compounds…and dietary fibre, which helps to improve intestinal health.

They are also rich in potassium and very low in sodium, so these drinks help maintain a healthy balance of electrolytes.

The “milks” derived from nuts are especially recommended for pregnant women because of its richness in folic acid and its good calcium/phosphorus ratio. “This last property, together with the absence of lactose, milk protein and gluten, are what make these drinks good substitutes for cow’s milk,” concludes Chelo González.

So-called common knowledge says folks who are lactose intolerant shouldn’t have a problem digesting milk-based yogurt. Well, I’m one where that standard flops. The only yogurt I can consume without a problem is the non-fat variety.

Plus – as a fan of adding nuts to your nutrition – I’m looking forward to trying some of these new milks. Now, can you make scamorze or mozzarella with one of them?

BTW – yes, I’m aware of the wide variety of similar products already on the market. Ain’t ever anything wrong with more study. 🙂

Here comes spring!

The video shows cows being released from winter confinement to graze outdoors on the Beemster polder for the first time in spring.

Beemster Graskaas is a rare, extra smooth cheese made in April from the first milking of the cows as they leave the barn for the first time after the cold, windy winter. The milk taken during the first weeks of Spring is the creamiest and is used to create a special edition cheese to be released at the Spring Cheese Festival.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Genetically modified cows produce hypoallergenic milk

Infants with milk allergies could have an alternative to formula after scientists created a genetically modified cow that produced hypoallergenic milk.

A team of researchers from New Zealand engineered the cow so that its milk would be almost entirely free of beta-lactuglobin, a protein which causes allergies in young children.

Tests on the milk revealed that it contained 96 per cent less beta-lactuglobin than normal, but higher levels of other proteins which meant its nutritional content was not diminished.

Engineering cows to produce hypoallergenic milk could benefit the two to three per cent of children who are allergic to dairy milk in their first year of life, experts said.

Allergic reactions to proteins in cows’ milk can cause a variety of symptoms including eczema, vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach cramps.

Children usually grow out of the condition before they reach school age, but in rare cases it can persist into adulthood…

Prof Bruce Whitelaw, Professor of Animal Biotechnology at Edinburgh University, who was not involved in the study, added: “This is notable since it represents one of the few RNA interference success stories in mammals and offers a good example of how these technologies can be used to provide alternative strategies to current manufacturing process.

Time will tell how widely applicable RNA interference will be in GM livestock – but this is certainly a milestone study in this field.”

The range of processes which can be genetically-altered to produce anything from less expensive sources of medical treatment up to and including replacement organs is beginning to reach pilot stage in research around the globe. Soon enough testing will evolve to determine which are long-term successes.

The usual conflicts between public good and private profit will be guaranteed – as will be the odd outburst of religious peristalsis from folks who still fear science more than superstition. Eventually, we will benefit as a species.

See – I told you. Cynic and optimist. We can get all this shit done – just not in my lifetime.

Milk throughout India often is contaminated, adulterated

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission
Yoga guru Baba Ramdev performs purification ritual pouring milk into the River Ganges

More than two-thirds of Indian milk is adulterated with items ranging from salt to detergent and may be unsafe to drink, a government watchdog says. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India conducted a survey in 33 states and found that 68.4% of 1,791 milk samples was contaminated. Among the substances found in milk were milk powder, fat, glucose and water.

In urban India, nearly 70% of samples were found to be contaminated, compared with 31% of samples in rural areas.

The survey said that only two states – Goa and Pondicherry – sold unadulterated milk, while all 250 samples from four eastern states were found to be contaminated with detergent.

Centre for Science and Environment spokesman Chandra Bhushan told the BBC that the survey was important because it was the first time that such findings had been released by a government agency rather than by non-governmental organisations. “It means the government has been accepting that we have been drinking adulterated milk,” he said…

He demanded that the government should conduct similar surveys on other edible goods.

I many ways – as I would expect – India’s problems with health and safety, purity and quality, parallel China. Moving incredibly large populations through development stages that took decades and centuries in the West in the 50 or 60 years since liberation from colonial status takes something more than an Upton Sinclair moment.

Developing a nationwide network of civil servants, educated, competent, dedicated and in possession of all the political and legal tools to enforce standards ain’t ever going to be a simple task. To accomplish this in a global context varying only in degree of hostility and limited cooperation doesn’t help.

Though one might suggest a bit more dedication to that task really won’t hamper production of educated money-makers from the universities and colleges.

KFC leaves Fiji after herbs, milk and eggs embargoed


Not exactly new in town – photo from Fiji KFC in 1984

The fried-chicken restaurant chain KFC has halted operations in Fiji, amid a row over imports of the ingredients to make its flavoured crumb coating.

The multinational said Fiji’s military government had stopped it from importing herbs, milk and eggs. Fijian officials said two cartons of eggs and milk had been delayed because KFC needed to provide documentation…

“The onus is on KFC to provide us with a simple veterinary certificate, that is all we ask,” he said…

The firm, which has three restaurants in Fiji, said the import problems coupled with rising food prices had made it impossible to make a profit…

We have been waiting for the veterinary certificate since early May [2011]. When this is provided, we’ll be able to release the cartons.”

What? Do they need certification for which bird laid the eggs?

Woman assaults coppers with breast milk

A lactating U.S. woman was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after she sprayed sheriff’s deputies with breast milk as they tried to remove her from a vehicle.

Ohio-resident Stephanie Robinette, 30, was arrested and charged with domestic violence and assault linked to a domestic dispute, as well as resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, according to the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office.

It said Robinette’s husband told authorities the pair had been attending a wedding when his wife got drunk and started a dispute. He said that she hit him multiple times before locking herself in her car outside a banquet facility on Saturday…

When deputies attempted to remove Robinette from the vehicle she advised the deputies that she was a breastfeeding mother and proceeded to remove her right breast from her dress and began spraying deputies and the vehicle with her breast milk…”

Robinette was later removed from the car and arrested after more deputies arrived on the scene.

Ah, the strength of a wild mother animal.

Especially if plastered.

Dairy Industry + antibiotics in milk = FDA finally starts testing

Each year, federal inspectors find illegal levels of antibiotics in hundreds of older dairy cows bound for the slaughterhouse. Concerned that those antibiotics might also be contaminating the milk Americans drink, the Food and Drug Administration intended to begin tests this month on the milk from farms that had repeatedly sold cows tainted by drug residue.

But the testing plan met with fierce protest from the dairy industry, which said that it could force farmers to needlessly dump millions of gallons of milk while they waited for test results. Industry officials and state regulators said the testing program was poorly conceived and could lead to costly recalls that could be avoided with a better plan for testing.

In response, the F.D.A. postponed the testing, and now the two sides are sparring over how much danger the antibiotics pose and the best way to ensure that the drugs do not end up in the milk supply.

“What has been served up, up to this point, by Food and Drug has been potentially very damaging to innocent dairy farmers,” said John J. Wilson, a senior vice president for Dairy Farmers of America, the nation’s largest dairy cooperative. He said that that the nation’s milk was safe and that there was little reason to think that the slaughterhouse findings would be replicated in tests of the milk supply.

But food safety advocates said that the F.D.A.’s preliminary findings raised issues about the possible overuse of antibiotics in livestock, which many fear could undermine the effectiveness of drugs to combat human illnesses.

Consumers certainly don’t want to be taking small amounts of drugs every time they drink milk,” said Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group. “They want products that are appropriately managed to ensure those drug residues aren’t there, and the dairy farmer is the one who can control that.”

RTFA for the details. Poisonally, I trust the Dairy Farmers association as far as I can throw them uphill into a heavy wind. Maybe because everyone I hang out with in the cattle business are beef growers not milk growers. But, the evidence has been pretty clear that virtually all the instances of BSE getting into the mainstream originated with dairy farms.

And – the FDA is just beginning to get up on their hind legs and starting to fight for consumers. In past administrations, Democrat and Republican, the profit-takers have been the regulators as far as best practices were concerned. Things have only begun to change in the past two years. Yes – there’s that word the KoolAid Party hates, again.