Pasteurization inhibits good bacteria

Pasteurization is one of the culprits in killing off the beneficial microbes we need in our guts to keep us healthy.

Following the E. coli death and illnesses from cheese made in Salmon Arm, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency recalled all types of cheese from the responsible facility.

Raw-milk cheeses immediately came under widespread suspicion. The CFIA has long been at war with raw-milk production, holding that only pasteurised milk (milk which has been heated for sterilization) is safe.

It has been known for some time that excessive hygiene can cause more trouble than it prevents and I had a vague notion that obsession with killing germs creates more vulnerability. Something to do with not building up natural immunities.

But I’ve been reading Michael Pollan’s latest book Cooked, in which he investigates the advantage that humans derived from cooking our food.

When we no longer had to spend hours finding and digesting meats and plants, we saved energy and time and our brains grew bigger.

Pollan divides his research into four types of cooking and poetically calls his categories air, fire, earth and water, which the Ancient Greeks believed were the universal elements.

The food he investigates for the earth category is cheese.

And that’s where I learned about the pasteurizing and post-pasteurizing debate.

Long before pasteurization, cheese was known as a nutritious food made mostly from the milk of cows but also other mammals.

Around 4,000 years ago people started to breed animals and process their milk into cheese.

And what a variety of wonderful cheeses were developed.

I miss Scottish crowdie, a delicious, crumbly, spreadable low fat “country” cheese, wonderful with French bread.

My brother acquired a taste for Limberger cheese, which my mother claimed smelled so awful that she threatened to make him keep it under his bed with his smelly socks.

The post pasteurizing arguments are very compelling. Top of my list is that the great classic cheeses are made with raw milk.

But it’s also very important to know that pasteurization is one of the culprits in killing off the beneficial microbes we need in our guts to keep us healthy.

Like the killing of the bees by the neonicitinoid pesticides, we have created bigger problems that the ones we fixed.

Also persuasive is the statement by an English milk expert that, “cheese is rarely involved in outbreaks of food poisoning,” and that “the most frequent causative factor in cheese-related outbreaks is post-production contamination” – i.e. after pasteurizing.

Pollan tells how a California maker of cheese from an old French recipe, threatened with closure by the food police, set up a demonstration using two batches of cheese, one in her old wooden barrel and one in a stainless steel vat.

She inoculated both with E. coli. The cheese made in stainless steel had high levels of the bacteria.

The cheese from the wooden barrel had almost none.

There were good bacteria encouraged by the traditional wood but none to help the cheese made in the sterile container. There is magic in traditional methods. The health inspector backed off.

Marjorie Stewart is board chairwoman of the Nanaimo Foodshare Society. E-mail

Just Posted

Nanaimo author B.S. Thompson has released his debut novel, ‘The Book of Nodd.’ (Photo courtesy Nora Funk)
Nanaimo author invites readers into dangerous world of dreams in debut novel

B.S. Thompson unveils ‘The Book of Nodd’ with online launch June 20

Potters Virginia Dunseith and Ruth Porter present their joint exhibit ‘Dig It’ at Art 10 Gallery until the end of June. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
Potters show pieces for home and garden at Nanaimo’s Art 10 Gallery

Virginia Dunseith and Ruth Porter’s show ‘Dig It’ on display until end of June

Construction work continues on the City of Nanaimo’s new Fire Station No. 1 on Fitzwilliam Street. (News Bulletin file)
Next phase of borrowing approved as Nanaimo fire hall construction ongoing

City of Nanaimo CAO says construction on Fitzwilliam Street hall on schedule and budget

Nanaimo Fire Rescue firefighters at the scene of a single-vehicle crash on Tenth Street near Southside Drive on Sunday, June 13. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Driver OK after crashing vehicle off the side of Nanaimo’s Tenth Street

Crews say wet roads a factor a crash Sunday, June 13

Emergency crews on scene of a two-car crash at the intersection of Cranberry Avenue and the Trans-Canada Highway on Sunday, June 13. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Crash blocks Cranberry intersection in Nanaimo, no one injured

Incident blocks both southbound lanes of Trans-Canada Highway

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Gabriola Island artist Sheila Norgate is promoting the Digital Innovation Group’s art impact survey. (File photo)
Vancouver Island artists get behind regional arts impact study

Artists urged to use their stature to help put arts and culture super-region on the map

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

Most Read