No, farmers are not bleaching bloody cows’ milk and selling it to you in supermarkets
I have a lot of sympathy for vegetarians and vegans. Although I have not given meat up myself, I will only eat free range. I am fully aware of the horror/scandal of what happens to male chickens as soon as they hatch; I agree that allowing religious people to kill animals without first stunning them is needlessly cruel.
So when someone close to me was put off drinking cows’ milk because one of her Facebook friends shared a post suggesting that all dairy milk contains blood, I was naturally interested. Here’s the post in question:
This person implies that all milk from cows has blood and pus in it and the only reason the milk you buy in supermarkets isn’t red with blood is because they whiten it before putting it on the shelves.
Why is the milk full of blood? Because, according to the Facebook post, the cows are milked “24/7” and they are therefore exhausted.
I have some things to say to this. First of all:
And second, it took me about three minutes to debunk the ‘blood in milk’ myth. Here’s the video from which that shocking picture of bloody milk has been grabbed. When you watch it, you’ll see why the person responsible for the Facebook post did not include the video itself:
That’s right — the farmer explains exactly why there is occasionally blood in cows’ milk and that it is thrown away because it is not fit for human consumption. Here are some quotes from the farmer:
“These are the fresh calvers. We milk them at the end because usually you’ve got to keep the milk out because it has things like antibiotics in the milk or in this case we’ve got a lot of blood in the milk.
“Doesn’t happen that often, but occasionally you get blood in the milk because maybe a blood vessel has burst in the udder. That always comes right in the end. It might take a week of milking, but as you can see, it’s not fit for human consumption so we have to keep that out.
“Look how red that is.”
The farmer says quite a few times phrases like “you can’t drink that” or “it’s not fit for human consumption” or “we can’t sell it”.
Even the tone of the farmer’s voice sounds like he really cares about his cows. It’s sad that his video has been used in this way.
Many awful things happen in farming and food production and they need to be publicised. But it is unhelpful when people make up scandals that clog up people’s social media feeds with outright lies.
And finally, some happy cows
The farmer who posted the video above has a YouTube channel called ‘thefunkyfarmer’. You should check out some more of his videos, like this one of happy cows skipping into the fields for the first time that year in early spring: