Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Don’t Drink the Milk in Elizabeth City, 1927

“Not a Clean Dairy Near Elizabeth City,” from The Independent, Elizabeth City, N.C., Friday, March 25, 1927. Fifty thousand microbes in each drop of milk doesn't sound appetizing to me! Of course, all the milk was sold unpasteurized so cleanliness was the only way to keep disease-causing microbes out of the milk. 

City Milk Inspector’s Survey of Dairies Servicing This City Show All Dirty, None Above Fourth Class

An inspection of 20 dairies serving milk to Elizabeth City reveals the startling fact that none one of all the dairies ranks above Grade D, according to the milk standards of the North Carolina State Board of Health. The health of every adult and the lives of hundreds of infants in Elizabeth City are endangered by dirty milk.

This is rough stuff folks but if we are ever to get a cleaning up of the dairies in and around Elizabeth City and secure anything like a clean and safe milk supply, we might as well face the facts and know where we stand.

Elizabeth City recently enacted a milk ordinance complying with the recommendations of the State Board of Health. To enforce this milk ordinance the city has employed an all-time milk inspector who will also serve as inspector of the city’s water supply.

C.L. Hedgepeth, the city’s milk inspector, got on the job a few weeks ago. He met with the dairymen and they asked him to give them until Oct. 1, 1927 to comply with the ordinance. It was a reasonable request and Oct. 1 has been fixed as the date on which the ordinance goes in full force and effect.
Now the new milk ordinance will not prohibit the sale of dirty milk; it simply provides that the dairymen shall label his milk and cream for what is actually is and the public will be guided by his label. If the folks think they can save money and keep healthy by drinking dirty milk they are at liberty to buy dirty milk. But those who demand better milk will have assurance that milk marked “Grade A” will be Grade A milk, or the best milk.

The grades are A, B, C and D. A total of 20 dairies within a radius of 13 miles of Elizabeth City are supplying Elizabeth City with 315 gallons of milk a day. They range from one-cow dairies to a single dairy that has a maximum number of 21 cows.

And not one of these dairies is above Grade D. Grade D milk is milk that contains not less than 1,000,000 nor more than 5,000,000 bacteria per cc. And that means one to five million microbes to every 20 drops. That means that in every drop of milk sold in Elizabeth City there are 50,000 microbes among them, possibly the microbes of tuberculosis, gonorrhea, syphilis, diarrhea and other horrible diseases.

Dairies are classed as Grade D dairies if they are deficient in the following particulars:

1.       No acceptable bottling facilities.

2.       Open privies in which flies have easy access and from which surface water washes in and out.

3.       Water for washing bottles is taken from an open well which contains or is subject to fecal contamination.

4.       No protection of bottles or buckets from flies between milkings.

5.       Unwashed or improperly washed udders, teats and milkers’ hands.

6.       Dirty milking clothes; dirty cow flanks; filthy milk stools; or pouring or straining milk in the barn during fly season.

Every one of the 20 dairies supplying Elizabeth City are listed under Grade D because they are deficient in several or all of the forgoing particulars. Out of the 20 dairies, 17 are adjacent to open privies where the water washes in and out.

The average Elizabeth City dairyman is ignorant or unmindful of modern sanitation. Only two dairies attempt to sterilize their bottles by steam and their methods are ineffective. Eighteen who profess to use hot water for washing bottles are washing them ineffectively.

Not one of the 20 dairies was found to use a safe form of washing their milkers’ hands or washing the teats and udders of the cows.

The dairymen promise to cleanup by October 1, but most of them are opposed to going on a Grade A basis. Grade A milk, containing not more than 50,000 bacteria per cc calls for clean barns, clean cows, and exact sanitary methods of handling milk. It will cost the dairymen a little money to go on a Grade A basis. To avoid this expense they are saying that they don’t believe Elizabeth City will want Grade A milk, because Grade A milk will necessarily cost more.

But if these dairymen are going to stick to Grade D or Grade C milk, this newspaper is going to see to it that Elizabeth City knows what these grades mean and knows the condition of the diary providing this milk. In the interest of better milk, better health, and the babies, this newspaper purposed to keep the light focused on the dairies serving this town until they clean up. And in doing this, The Independent believes it will have the cooperation of every dairyman who desires to clean up.

Points on Milk Ordinance

The primary object of Elizabeth City’s Standard Milk Control Ordinance is to raise the quality of the milk produced and to increase the amount consumed thus contributing to the general health of the City.

This is done by grading each source and requiring that every package of milk bear a printed label indicating the true condition of the contents. Such grades are determined by the City Health Officer through his inspector.

Thus, adulterated, adjusted, watered, skimmed or colored milk must be so labeled. Cream falls into four grades from the standpoint of fat content; these are subnormal, normal, heavy and extra heavy. Cream caps must bear this fat grade in addition to the sanitary grade.

Fresh, whole milk obtained by complete milking of one or more healthy cows may be labeled as “Raw Milk” and must bear a sanitary grade on the cap in letters large enough to be plainly seen by the purchaser. These grades are determined by the condition of the equipment, the methods used, and the condition of the product as determined by chemical and bacteriological examination. Standards are set in section 7, pages 17 to 26, inclusive, of the City Milk Ordinance.

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