Sanitizer-Laced Milk Sickens Kids; PETA Offers Healthy Vegan Option

For Immediate Release:
April 5, 2022

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

Camden, N.J.

After dozens of students in the Camden City School District were sent to the hospital and several reportedly became ill after drinking dairy milk tainted with sanitizer, TeachKind—PETA’s humane education division—sent a letter today to the district’s superintendent, Katrina McCombs, offering to send nutritious vegan milk for the kids to enjoy instead. The group points out that dairy-free drinks are the safe and kind choice for animals, the environment, and any of the approximately 30 to 50 million lactose-intolerant Americans, who can get more efficient calcium intake from green, leafy vegetables while avoiding all the fat and cholesterol found in dairy.

“Young people care about animals, so their taste for cow’s milk even without sanitizer in it would sour if they knew that mother cows and their calves are cruelly separated from each other on dairy farms,” says PETA’s Senior Director of Youth Programs Marta Holmberg. “PETA’s TeachKind division wants to help Camden schools encourage students’ natural kindness by providing delicious dairy-free milk that keeps everyone happy and healthy.”

TeachKind—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or follow the group on Facebook or Instagram.

TeachKind’s letter to McCombs follows.

April 5, 2022

Katrina McCombs
State District Superintendent

Camden City School District

Dear Ms. McCombs:

We were sorry to see the news that over two dozen children in the Camden City School District were sent to the hospital after drinking dairy milk containing sanitizer, and we hope they are all doing well. I’m writing from TeachKind, PETA’s humane education division, with an offer that I hope you’ll take us up on: We’d love to provide every student in your entire school district with delicious and healthy dairy-free milk to try.

Dairy-free milk is significantly lower in fat and calories than cow’s milk but is higher in calcium and iron, giving kids the nutrition they need without contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic, as well as promoting wellness among students. Since childhood obesity affects 25.6% of Hispanic kids and 24.2% of non-Hispanic Black kids—and Hispanic students make up 53% and Black or African American students make up 44.5% of Camden City School District’s student population—the district is in a unique position to combat this epidemic by offering only nondairy milk. This would also allow students who are lactose intolerant to enjoy milk without getting sick, as 70% of African Americans and 53% of certain Latine populations are lactose intolerant.

In addition, dairy-free milk is kinder to animals and the environment, both of which are increasingly important to young people. Given the chance, cows nurture their young and form lifelong friendships with one another. They play games and have a wide range of emotions and personality traits. But on dairy farms, cows are repeatedly artificially inseminated to keep them producing milk. As soon as they give birth, their babies are taken away. Mother cows often cry out for their calves for days. And dairy farms have an enormously detrimental effect on the environment. Animal agriculture uses massive amounts of land, water, and energy, while manure runoff poisons groundwater, lakes, and rivers. One cow emits around 220 pounds of methane—a greenhouse gas 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide—every year.

We hope you’ll consider taking us up on our offer of dairy-free milk for every student in the district to try. On behalf of PETA and our many members and supporters who live in New Jersey, thank you for your consideration. May I please hear from you as soon as possible?


Andrew Burton
TeachKind Assistant

cc:       Arlethia Brown, Senior Director of School Nutrition

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