My Reaction to Looking at an Oily Cheese Pizza

For anyone who has done their reading on the deleterious consequences of regularly consuming dairy products, perhaps you can relate to my reaction when I look at dairy loaded foods.  For those that aren’t enlightened about the chemicals present in a piece of cheese or a stick of butter, this article will point out a few things that may alter the way you view these foods and heighten your willpower to turn down a slice of cheese-loaded pizza or pasta inundated with cheese sauce. 

Being in my early twenties results in attending quite a few gatherings with friends in which pizza is the meal of choice.  I need to spread the word more about what’s in the cheese! I don’t want my friends consuming foods that promote ill health and increase the body’s toxic load.  Heck, I don’t want anyone consuming these types of foods.

Pizza. Flickr: theimpulsivebuy

Dairy products are produced under mega dirty conditions and these conditions result in the production of “dirty” milk. Blood, fecal matter, pus, E. coli and other dangerous pathogens found in the raw milk at factory farms are routinely boiled off to convert the “dirty” milk to “clean” milk. This probably doesn’t have much to do with the nutritious properties of the milk, but it’s gross to think about.  Due to pasteurization procedures that boil the heck out of the milk, factory farms are able to avoid washing their milk machines, don’t have to sterilize milk container, don’t have to make employees wash their hands or make the dairy production environment clean in any way.  That’s lovely to imagine, right?!

Then there is the whole issue of dioxin.  Without intentions to scare anyone (because it is scary), I must be honest and report that dioxin happens to be one of the most toxic chemicals known to science and is present in dairy and other animal products.1,2 Dioxin describes a group of chemicals that are highly persistent in the environment and are the unintentional byproducts of industrial processes involving chlorine.  The Environmental Protection Agency explains that dioxin builds up in the environment and as such, accumulates in the bodies of farm animals that eat contaminated feed or grass.3 Humans are exposed to dioxin primarily via consuming animal products, with concentrated dairy products, such as cheese and butter, being the worst offenders.4 Researchers at the University of Texas at Houston found that Americans get 22 times the maximum dioxin exposure suggested by the EPA through food alone.5 However, vegans were found to have much lower levels of dioxin. Due to measured levels of dioxin that exceed safety standards, the National Academy of Science has for years recommended that people avoid eating a diet rich in animal fats. Obviously, consumers have not taken heed of this advice. 

Pesticides are also the most concentrated in animal products like dairy because pesticides accumulate in fatty tissues over time and aren’t excreted very quickly.6,7  Not only are livestock fed animal feed that has been sprayed with massive amounts of pesticides, but many pesticides are used in livestock facilities themselves to kill off flies, mites, spiders cockroaches, ticks and other pests that creep up on the skin, fur and feathers of livestock.8

Dairy products already appear thoroughly off-putting by the above information alone, but I haven’t even touched upon the hormones or antibiotics present in these foods. The stone cold truth is that because dairy products come from animals, we are really eating everything stored in that animal’s tissues.  Antibiotics can lead to health problems in large doses and so can synthetic hormones.  Did you know that 70 percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States go to livestock? In short, dairy products like cheese are not clean, and I don’t consider it a legitimate food choice, regardless of what it tastes like. Dump on the white flour and oil, coat it with cheese, and you’ve got a typical cheese pizza. I say no to cheese pizza, do you?   




2. Llobet JM, Domingo JL, Bocio A, et al. Human exposure to dioxins through the diet in Catalonia, Spain: carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic risk. Chemosphere 2003;50(9):1193-1200.

3. Dioxins and Dioxin-Like Compounds in the Food Supply: Strategies to Decrease Exposure. National Academy of Sciences. Washington, DC: National Academies Press, Oct 1, 2003.

4. Jensen E, Bolger M. Exposrue Assessment of dioxins/furans consumed in dairy foods and fish. Food Addit Contam 2001;18(5):395-403.

5. Schecter A, Cramer P, Boggess K, et al. Intake of Dioxins and Related Compounds from Food in the U.S. Population. J Toxicology and Environmental Health 2001;63(1):1-18.

6. Moorman PG, Terry PD. Consumption of diary products and the risk of breast cancer: a review of the literature. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80(1):5-14.


8. Kegley SE, Schafer SK. Persistent toxic chemicals in the US food supply. J Epidemiol Community Health 2002;56:813-817

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Comments (19) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Susan Swain - July 11, 2012 12:50 PM

while i agree with the many valid points regarding conventional dairy products, i believe that clean, organic, raw (or possibly even gently low-heat pasteurized) dairy can be very healthy for people. obviously, we are all individuals and not all people will react well to dairy, but to lump all milk products together isn't valid. there is a world of difference between land o lakes junk and the raw milk from a small, organic dairy.

Lola S. - July 11, 2012 1:26 PM

I steer clear of foods made from animals for the reasons stated in the article - factory farms producing unhealthy animal products for mass consumption - but I often wonder if the dairy and eggs produced organically, without hormones and pesticides, produce the same health hazards to humans. I tend to steer clear of animal products regardless - I prefer to maintain a vegan diet because of the vast health benefits of eating a diet rich in raw plants, however I am not a researcher myself and do not know what the health hazards are of indulging in a scoop of organic ice cream or a cupful of organic yogurt (other than the increased fat intake). Maybe someone can answer this for me?

Jessica - July 11, 2012 1:58 PM

Every conscientous consumer seems to think that they get their dairy from "small, organic, nice" farms. But the reality is that 99% of dairy comes from factory farms where the milk is of the nature discussed in this article and the animals live miserable lives. When you eat at restaurants and shop at grocery stores you are supporting the factory farming dairy industry. And then even on these idyllic small dairy farms, cows need to be repeatedly impregnanted, the babies ripped away from them shortly after giving birth, and then male babies turned into veal. The production of dairy is inherently cruel.

Pamela WIlson - July 11, 2012 2:04 PM

Does anyone have answers to the above mentioned questions/comments? I do on occasion, consume small quantities of organic, raw dairy in the form of Kefir, plain yogurt or goat cheese, derived from a small organic raw dairy producer. I would be curious about the pros and cons of consuming these foods. Some of the books that I have read offer very good research regarding the health benefits of consuming these products. There is so much contradictory information out there that it is hard to distinguish fact from fiction these days.

Jessica - July 11, 2012 2:50 PM

Im wondering the same thing as Pamela! We don't eat much meat, but when we do it's organic, grass finished, etc. We buy almond milk, but also buy a small carton of organic cow milk to have on hand too. There really is so much info out there and conflicting reports for us to study!

Stacy - July 11, 2012 3:02 PM

For those who believe dairy is healthy in its pure form (e.g., organic, small producer, etc.) can read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and learn why some people argue that it is not.

Tia - July 11, 2012 3:48 PM

Susan, I understand where you are coming from. However, you should either watch Forks Over Knives or read The China Study. The evidence over 30 years is clear. The protein in milk is not anything you want in your body. Furthermore, milk can only represent calves that were stripped from their mothers, regardless of if its factory farm or family farm. Like us, cows produce milk when and only when they are pregnant. Milk of any mammal is intended only for a short time and only for the baby's immature digestive system. When babies get old enough to eat real food, all mammals except us refuse to give more milk and force them to eat food instead. There's no justification for it. We don't need it and the calves do.

ardeth - July 11, 2012 4:06 PM

My husband and I went food shopping today, and I kept noticing the massive "slices" of pizza people were eating for lunch at the food counter areas at Costco and Smith's supermarket. I've been vegan for about 13 years, having been an animal eater for about 50 years, and I still remember the uncomfortable sensation of the gluey, viscous pizza cheese getting stuck in my throat on the way down and just sitting there going nowhere. Half the time I'd have to cough it up and start over trying to swallow it. Besides the fact that it's mega unhealthy, it's also pretty unpleasant to eat.

Suzanne - July 11, 2012 4:08 PM

Lola, Pamela - besides the pesticides and toxic chemicals that remain in dairy products that Tahlia points out, the saturated fat leads to inflammation in your body that can lead to cancer, dairy also is very acidic so the calcium you think your eating is not well absorbed and the dairy actually leeches more calcium from your bones. It is very well documented that countries with the highest dairy consumption have high rates of bone fractures and osteoprosis. The saturated fat also leads to weight gain and therefore the potential for heart disease and diabetes. Do you know that in the US, cheese consumption has risen something like 20-fold in the past 40 years, and the rise in obesity goes hand-in-hand. I can't think of one good reason to eat dairy. With that said, certainly an ice cream a couple times a year is probably not going to pose an issue, but cheese in your omlette, then cheese pizza for lunch and a cheeseburger for dinner - is not okay. (not that I ever recommend eggs, any kind of pizza or red meat either.) I highly suggest reading Dr. Fuhrman's Eat to Live and/or Super Immunity for more compelling answers.

p adams - July 11, 2012 4:53 PM

You missed the point that casein, the primary protein in milk, has been shown to be a carcinogen. We even know the rate of cancer chances increase as the percentage of casein in the diet increases.
If you get 22% of your calories from casein, you have a 48% chance of getting cancer. If you reduce the calories you get from animal protein below a few percent, your chances of getting cancer drop to a few percent, and there appears to be a break in the curve around 11%.
This is not changed by organic farming methods.

Joe McMahon - July 11, 2012 4:56 PM

Human beings are the only species that continue to drink milk after they have been weaned from their mother. No other animal does what we do. And especially, they do not drink the milk of another species... I think that says something... Milk is for an entirely different stage of life/development than what we use it for...

David - July 11, 2012 5:31 PM

Of course, many cheeses are high in saturated fat, making them an unhealthy food option. I guess the author is vegan, and is pushing a viewpoint of adopting a vegan lifestyle? Isn't there a line from ETL, about "eating things on occasion but certainly don't make a habit of it". This post sounds over the top to me.

Michelle - July 12, 2012 1:38 PM

David, how many people do you know that eat pizza, only eat it on occasion?

Carrie - July 12, 2012 8:42 PM

What's over the top about it? She's pointing out what's gross about dairy. If you're not grossed out by what's in it and you want to consume it from time to time, that's your choice. But most people eat dairy regularly while having no idea what's in it, so I think it's good to provide information so people can make informed decisions.

I used to consume a ton of dairy because I thought I needed it in order to get protein and calcium. When I stopped eating it, pizza was the thing I really missed for a while. However, now when I smell cheese pizza, it actually makes me feel a little sick. Tastes change.

I have to say, I don't know whether Talia is vegan or not, but it always frustrates me when people think that someone is saying something negative about the animal-products industry because they're vegan. People choose to be vegans because of the many negative facts they find out about animal-derived products; being vegan doesn't produce those facts!

Nancy - July 12, 2012 11:04 PM

Milk on the dairy is the most watched over--sanitary food produced(by law and by inspectors,or it isn't loaded onto the tank truck)It's tested before it's loaded--tested before it's off-loaded--,If the milk is in ANY way contaminated and gets loaded--the producer(dairy-farmer)
PAYS FOR the whole load!That includes everyone elses milk on that load!If that's a semi load--that's the farmers paycheck gone for at least a month or MORE...
The problem with milk is in the processing at the plant
cooking--adding--'enhancing'-- etc.By the way--do you know hou much of your 'fresh' produce comes from out of the country?What are the production laws of that country--and chemical restrictions----How do you know what THEIR 'organic srandards' are?Do you know what the Chinese fertilize with?(for centuries!--'night soil')Don't knock the
farmers in the U.S.A. unless you have something better.
Mexico?Check out their production standards...Oh !and check out your water--have it tested. YES ! Bottled water too!

David - July 13, 2012 10:32 PM

Well Michelle, I can speak personally to that, I eat pizza on occasion. (Usually Chicago style deep dish pizza) I started ETL about 6 months ago, my BMI was at 26.5 and is now 23.5.
If the first page of ETL was a diatribe on dairy products, I would have never read on. I did get this message from ETL, dairy has some negative qualities (like saturated fat) and should not be consumed daily. But all dairy are produced under mega dirty conditions? Talk about painting with a broad brush. I was recently in France and had some of the local cheeses, so all of that is mega dirty?
(continued on the next post)

David - July 13, 2012 10:38 PM

The parts of ETL that stuck with me:
the 90/10 rule-90% of calories from fruit, veggies, beans, nuts and seeds,
eating eating things on occasion but not making a habit of it.
A very reasoned approach, I think.

Just my opinion, if you want to appeal to the non-vegans, and bring people over to eating healthier, adopt the measured tone of ETL. (Another side note, if people focused on the health of others and did not introduce their views in this forum on politics or the global warming religion, you'd probably reach more people also)

Ann Lane - July 19, 2012 12:19 PM

Talia, I love this post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I have the same reaction. Unfortunately, our food supply simply isn't what it should be. Whoever made the comment that veggies deserve as much scrutiny as dairy isn't far from the mark in my book. But alas, many of the cleanliness issues with vegetables are rooted in Factory Cattle Farming practices. Bravo for shareing on such a gut-level. It is rather confounding that you appear to represent the minority on this issue. You would think that this is a like-minded forum...

Steve - March 26, 2013 3:18 PM

Other animals drink milk from species other than their own after adulthood.
Not only will they drink it, they will do so with enthusiasm, even forsaking other 'good' foods.
We are predisposed to 'like' it because as infants it is the perfect food for us.

Mammals produce milk to grow their young. It shares many 'blood boundry' crossover's too - Mom's immunities, hormones and toxins come along, milk is a naturally good vessle for them.

The lesson we need to take is it is not a primary source of *anything* except in infancy. It is an opportunistic food. Cheese doubly so.

If you are looking to 'grow' something...a child, muscle mass, healing...Milk, even from a species other than our own, is a good source of roughly the right micro and macro-nutrients for the purpose.
Suppliment, not staple.

We have the same issues with Soy. Big, fast, cheap and shelf stable...GMO, allergies, dioxins (same ones the dairy cows are eating), thyroid...

As a food service manager/director of many years, I appreciate the tirade of claims against the big business farms and even the small business organic dairies, but we (the American Consumer) have created these busineses and dictated their paths.

They are not secretly plotting to poison us, they are just doing what we ask that they do every time we hit the cash register and make a purchase or skip the farmer's market because it is a longer drive than the local megamarket.

I would like my milk raw, from happy healthy animals, but if _I am only willing to pay the same price as gas_ - it *must be mass produced*, and pasturised so it will last on the shipping and in my fridge for a week.

The American Consumer has writen the menu for the Standard American Diet stading in the checkout line at the local supermarket one sale at a time for seventy years.

A last taste for those who read this far...I love blue is milk that has spoiled (that is ...cheese, we remember that cheese IS milk that has spoiled?) that has had a secondary bacterial infection (penicillum roqueforti) thrive on it.

While I generally prefer my dairy based pus and fecal matter to be pasturized, or even sanitized with some dioxin releasing chlorination process ... I generally don't wash my mushrooms, or ask how the migrant workers sanitize thier hands while picking my fruit.

I have the highest respect for anyone who's wallet is aligned with the height of their thoughts, but I mourn the farms and businesses I have seen lost to juvenile bluster without willing financial flesh to back it up.

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