Brexit and pus in milk

| 11 April 2018
minute reading time

When we leave the EU, we may end up swallowing more than we bargained for. A new 500-page report from the Office of the United States Trade Representative sets out the barriers to foreign trade it would like to remove. It lists a wide range of foods the US would like to export to Britain, that are currently not permitted as they are deemed unfit or unsafe for human consumption!

Chlorinated chicken (meat washed with antimicrobial solution, used as an alternative to keeping and killing the birds in a clean environment), meat from animals pumped up with hormones and steroids, pesticides, fungicides and artificial flavourings currently not permitted in the EU, a type of tallow (pressed fat) that the EU deems unsafe as it may be linked to BSE… It makes frightening reading.

The report’s contempt for the EU’s cautious approach is palpable – referring to EU regulations as ‘unfounded’ and ‘unscientific’.

The United States continues to engage the EU regarding the unscientific ban on meat and animal products produced using hormones, beta agonists, and other growth promotants.

They even think the amount of somatic ‘pus’ cells allowed in milk in the EU is too restrictive.

In the UK, a third of all dairy cows have mastitis each year – a bacterial infection of the udders. Like us, cows produce pus when they are fighting infection. Pus is made up of white blood cells and dead cell tissue carried in a thin fluid. White ‘somatic’ cells are the immune system’s ‘soldiers’ sent to attack bacteria causing infection.

At the moment, the EU permits consumption of milk with up to 400,000 of these somatic pus cells per millilitre. Milk with a somatic cell count of more than 400,000 is deemed unfit for human consumption by the European Union. This threshold is lower than the US requirement of 750,000 cells per millilitre. We don’t yet know what the British limit might be post-Brexit!

Average UK levels are around 200,000 pus cells per millilitre – that’s around one million cells in every teaspoonful of milk! Organic milk is no better – organic dairy farmers can’t use antibiotics to control the disease so the situation can be even worse.

Want to avoid hormone-fuelled meat and pus-filled milk? The solution is simple – go vegan!

It’s so easy to go vegan! Try our free 30 Day Vegan meal plan. You can start anytime and we’re here to help

About the author
Dr. Justine Butler
Justine joined Viva! in 2005 after graduating from Bristol University with a PhD in molecular biology. After working as a campaigner, then researcher and writer, she is now Viva!’s head of research and her work focuses on animals, the environment and health. Justine’s scientific training helps her research and write both in-depth scientific reports, such as White Lies and the Meat Report, as well as easy-to-read factsheets and myth-busting articles for consumer magazines and updates on the latest research. Justine also recently wrote the Vegan for the Planet guide for Viva!’s Vegan Now campaign.

View author page | View staff profile

Scroll up