Washington Insider-- Thursday

Health Controversies and Raw Milk

Here's a quick monitor of Washington farm and trade policy issues from DTN's well-placed observer.

China Adds Anti-Subsidy Duty on Top of Antidumping Duties to US DDGs

China will impose an anti-subsidy duty on imports of distillers' dried grains (DDGs) with or without solubles from the U.S., adding to antidumping duties of 33.8 percent introduced last week.

The provisional anti-subsidy duties range from 10% to 10.7% and will be implemented from Sept. 30, China's Ministry of Commerce said in a statement. Imports from suppliers including Poet LLC, Big River Resources LLC and Marquis Energy LLC will incur duties between 10% and 10.5%, the ministry said. Imports from other companies not listed in today's announcement will have a 10.7% duty imposed, it said.

A preliminary decision from authorities was that imports of subsidized U.S. DDGs has hurt China's domestic industry, according to the ministry. The anti-subsidy duty will be in addition to an antidumping deposit of 33.8% imposed last week. Chinese buyers will have to pay deposits on the after-tax imported price to customs.

China imported a record 6.8 million metric tons of DDGs in 2015, worth about $2 billion, according to official customs data. The nation is the world's biggest buyer and almost all of its imports come from the United States.

More Details Emerge on Initial Brazil Beef Shipments to US

The first shipment of Brazilian beef has arrived in the U.S., with reports saying the initial shipment is a small one that arrived via an American Airlines flight Sept. 27 in Miami and was alerted by Brazilian Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi in comments to reporters about an Asian trade mission.

The tonnage of the initial shipment was not indicated and GlobalMeatNews.com indicated Brazil beef was also ocean-bound for the U.S. Marfrig was the first Brazilian firm cleared to export beef to the U.S. and the company has linkages to the U.S. firm Keystone Foods.

Marfrig said they shipped their first container of beef to the U.S. just after receiving clearance to start exporting beef to the U.S. earlier this month. The beef in that first container shipment was from its Batagaussu plant in Mato Grosso do Sul, according to reports. Marfrig said it now has another five plants cleared to sell beef the U.S.

"After making the first sea shipment to the U.S. from Brazil, Marfrig has brought its incredible ability to deliver high animal protein on a global scale and support Brazil's potential to once again become a global leader in the production of cattle," said Andrew Murchie, CEO of Marfrig's beef division was quoted by GlobalMeatNews.com as saying.

JBS has also been cleared to ship beef to the U.S., with five of the company's plants okayed for export and the company was expected to ship beef this past weekend.

Washington Insider: Health Controversies and Raw Milk

A number of states now allow dairy "shareholders" to consume unpasteurized milk, a policy that has long been controversial. This week, once again, attracted considerable negative publicity from the press.

The most recent outbreaks of raw milk related illnesses occurred in Colorado and affects as many as 20 people who are sick from the Campylobacter bacteria, Food Safety News (FSN) says. Multiple state public health agencies are reporting the most likely cause is raw milk from Larga Vista Ranch, and that some of the contaminated milk appears to have been distributed illegally, FSN says.

"All the individuals who were sickened reported drinking raw milk from Larga Vista Ranch," county and state health officials reported late last week. In addition, FSN says "Some of those sickened in this outbreak were not shareholders, but obtained raw milk from others who were. Shareholders are not permitted to redistribute the raw milk they receive from cow share deals."

Public health agencies in the state are urging consumers to throw out any raw milk products they have from Larga Vista Ranch. These include the Pueblo and El Paso county health departments and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. "Health officials have identified 12 confirmed and eight probable human cases of campylobacter since Aug. 1. The most recent onset of illness was Sept. 16," according to the Friday notice.

Even as the Colorado outbreak is ongoing, FSN says an additional type of milk related danger is being seen in New Mexico. For the first time since CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report last year documented two siblings with cryptosporidiosis associated with raw milk consumption, the state is blaming an invasion of the microscopic parasites on raw milk.

This time, it is New Mexico officials who are telling people to dump the raw milk, FSN says, warning the Cryptosporidium parasite causes a diarrheal disease known as cryptosporidiosis.

New Mexico has confirmed six new cases of "Crypto" since Aug. 31.

The state says its departments of health, agriculture and environment are investigating the sources of the parasites. All the current victims are from Bernalillo County and all drank raw milk before being infected. Epidemiologists, laboratory staff and inspectors are still working to narrow down the exact source, but the state has been warning the public about raw milk since Sept. 15.

"Raw milk products may be contaminated with a variety of infectious pathogens," New Mexico Secretary of Health Lynn Gallagher said in a public notice. "We are particularly concerned about the very young, the elderly and others with compromised immune systems who may develop more severe illnesses if exposed to contaminated raw milk products."

Raw milk is any milk that has not gone through pasteurization, which destroys many potentially harmful bacteria, including Campylobacter, E. coli, Listeria, Salmonella and Cryptosporidium. The Crypto parasite is protected by an outer shell that allows it to survive outside a host body for some time. It is very tolerant of chlorine disinfection. There are numerous strains of Crypto that can infect animals and a few that can infect humans.

Besides diarrhea, symptoms include stomach cramps or pain, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, fever and weight loss. New Mexico health officials say anyone experiencing those symptoms should get to a medical doctor for treatment, especially if they have consumed raw milk.

Last year, the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report last February said unpasteurized, raw milk was the source of two earlier Cryptosporidiosis that were linked to a state-licensed dairy in Idaho.

Consumer pressure to allow raw milk schemes such as the "cow share" program are intense and highly political and widespread, in spite of growing pressure from disease outbreaks. Consumers who advocate raw milk product consumption say the risks are small, and the benefits very significant, although there is very significant disagreement over the issue. Still, the continuing outbreaks threatens the safety image and credibility of the food industry and should be watched carefully, especially in cases where outbreaks have been frequent, Washington Insider believes.

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