Friday, June 15, 2007


The rest of the story on Oahu's spoiled milk

The recent Honolulu Advertiser story, Bacteria levels souring Hawai'i milk? should leave Hawaii consumers concerned about the high spoilage level of the milk they drink. Following on the heels of national e coli and melamine contamination scares, this only adds to our uncertainty about the safety  of our food supply.

Long-time readers of my other blog, The Freerange Gourmet, already know the rest of the story--the part that the Advertiser didn't tell you--and which you need to know before you pour another glass of milk for your kids: milk is shipped to Oahu from the Mainland in unrefrigerated containers.

We wrote about this 'way back in 2005 in two articles. The first, Scary Dairy -- Frightening food news for Halloween, included this citation from an even earlier Honolulu Magazine article by Joan Namkoong:

"What's interesting--and a bit alarming--is that Hawaii-bound milk is pasteurized in California before shipment, then placed in insulated (but not refrigerated) containers for shipment to the Islands, according to Chin Lee, dairy extension specialist at the University of Hawaii's College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. Once the milk arrives at Meadow Gold, a minimum of four to five days after pasteurization, it is pasteurized again before it is bottled.

"Hawaii is the only state that allows repasteurization of milk, says Lee, which can pose a food safety issue."

We asked then and ask again today: "How do you feel now? Did you drink any milk today? I'm sure that one can pasteurize most anything and then drink it, but do we really want to do that?"

After a few phone calls we learned that Costco brings its milk to Hawaii in refrigerated containers. We had already been buying our milk at Costco, and we're certainly not going to switch now, after the Advertiser story.

Let me repeat Mr. Lee's warning, "Hawaii is the only state that allows repasteurization of milk, says Lee, which can pose a food safety issue," and ask why this important fact didn't appear in the Advertiser story? Would the paper have lost Meadow Gold as an advertiser if they revealed the awful truth about the milk we drink in Hawaii?


And why is Safeway the only store to sell 1% milk by the half- and full gallon?

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