Safe as Milk (Thanks to the FDA)


Posted on December 12, 2013 by Ruth O’Brien

Finally, I can buy milk for our children without have to read the darn label and worry if they will get sick and die in the hospital. One almost did, so I wish I was exaggerating.

After that dreadful experience, I used to stand in the Costco refrigerated room, squinting and weighing my sons’ options.  Bones or immunity?  Should I buy food to build their bones or protect their immune system?  What option was best?  Then I read in some Utne-like reader that the guys in charge of “Got milk?” saved only 10 cents a gallon by giving the cows enough antibodies to fight off their infections, which meant my sons couldn’t combat theirs if either one ended up in the emergency room.

But milk was easy.  Telling my sons to drink their hormone-free milk worked, but denying them chicken fingers and fries was not so easy.  After all, I prided myself on having the only suburban sons under the age of 6 who didn’t know what French fries (e.g. in a Happy Meal) or broadcast television were.  Then my pediatrician told me to stop trying so hard:  Hormone-suffused chicken fingers and hamburgers were everywhere in the United States.  It didn’t matter if we went for fast food, like McDonald’s, or to a swanky place in Manhattan; I wasn’t going to find hormone-free food when it counted the most.

Barack Obama’s executive action in his FDA’s new policy should bring us all some good cheer in this crowded time of holiday spirit, when no one dares to brave the Costco crowds to protect their children from the “epidemic of antibiotic resistance.”

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About Ruth O'Brien

Professor Ruth O'Brien, The Graduate Center, The City University of New York (CUNY) & Honorary Unaffiliated Academic Book Series Editor for The Public Square, Princeton University Press & Heretical Thought, Oxford University Press, USA Last book: Out of Many, One: Obama & the Third American Political Tradition (U of Chicago 2013). Nickname: Professorette by Rush Limbaugh (see

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