Dairy Groups Ask Nevada Governor to Veto Raw Milk Legislation
June 4, 2013
Two national dairy organizations urged Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval to veto legislation that would allow the sales of raw milk directly to consumers, arguing that the food safety risks of the measure represent too great a gamble with the public’s health.
In a letter sent last week to Sandoval, NMPF and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) said that Assembly Bill No. 209, which is awaiting review by the governor, would greatly increase Nevadans’ risk of serious illness because of the potentially dangerous bacteria that are often present in milk that has not been properly pasteurized.
“Gambling with the health of your state’s residents – particularly its children – is a bad bet,” said NMPF President and CEO Jerry Kozak in the letter. “While choice is an important value, it should not pre-empt consumers’ well-being,” he said, likening consumption of unpasteurized milk to a game of Russian roulette.
The letter cited a 2012 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which found that between 1993 and 2006, unpasteurized dairy products resulted in 73 known outbreaks – causing 1,571 cases of foodborne illness, 202 hospitalizations, and 2 deaths. The CDC also concluded that unpasteurized milk was 150 times more likely to cause food-borne illness outbreaks than pasteurized milk, and such outbreaks had a hospitalization rate 13 times higher than those involving pasteurized dairy products. The CDC has reported that nearly 75% of raw milk-associated outbreaks have occurred in states where sale of raw milk was legal.
Federal law prohibits the interstate sales of raw milk but leaves it up to each state to determine how to regulate the product within their borders. An increasing number of states have liberalized sales of raw milk in recent years, which the dairy organizations say is a threat to public health and runs counter to other trends in the food industry to take additional steps to prevent unsafe foods from reaching consumers.