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Milk (Pasteurisation)

Volume 387: debated on Thursday 18 March 1943

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asked the Minister of Health how many eases of epidemic summer diarrhoea have arisen in the last year in infants under two years of age; how many of such were fed on pasteurised milk and how many on raw milk?

The information received in the Ministry from local authorities shows, for the last full year, 878 cases of epidemic diarrhoea in children under five years of age, but I regret that I have no separate figures for children under two. Nor can I say how many of these children were fed on pasteurised milk.

Is it not true that pasteurised milk is good for children and far better than dirty fresh milk?


asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the fact that pasteurisation of milk kills the harmless lactic bacteria and thereby leaves a much better field for the growth of other dangerous diseases and putrefactive germs, he will prohibit pasteurised milk being fed to babies without notification?

No, Sir. I am advised that the keeping quality of milk is much improved by pasteurisation and that there is no scientific evidence for the statement that pathogenic organisms grow better in pasteurised milk than in clean raw milk.

Is it not a fact that in an experiment at Newcastle not many years ago, rats were fed on pasteurised milk and died of it?

Is the Minister aware that the suggestion contained in my Question is a fact which has been established both commercially and scientifically for many years and that it still holds good, and that pasteurisation does nothing towards destroying those bacteria which gain access to milk after it has been pasteurised?

I think my hon. Friend has overlooked the fact that when lactic bacilli have so soured milk that it is unfit for human consumption, the growth of other organisms may be inhibited by the acid produced.

If pasteurised milk is so bad for people, will the right hon. Gentleman feed Hitler on it?


asked the Minister of Health in view of the fact that pasteurisation is claimed to destroy the so-called bovine tubercle bacillus, what is the cause of the large number of cases of so-called bovine non-pulmonary tuberculosis in the London area where practically all the milk for domestic consumption is pasteurised?

I know of no evidence to support my hon. Friend's suggestion that there is a large number of cases of bovine non-pulmonary tuberculosis in the London area, nor of any evidence incompatible with the supposition that the great majority of cases of non-pulmonary tuberculosis in the London area are due to human infection.

Are not the replies of the Minister on this matter getting somewhat muddled and ought he not to seek guidance from the House instead of from the employés and lackeys of the big milk producers, the bacteriologists?