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Raw Milk Bills in State Legislatures Gain Attention

February 5, 2014

The month of January is when many state legislatures convene their new sessions and, as has been the case in recent years, that means a rash of state-level bills to legalize the sales of raw milk. NMPF has offered scientific counsel to several states where such legislation is pending, including recently in the state of Maryland.

At a January hearing in Annapolis, Vice President for Dairy Foods & Nutrition Beth Briczinski reminded the health and government operations committee of the Maryland House that every major health organization in the country discourages consuming raw milk, including the Food and Drug Administration.

“We pasteurize milk for a reason,” Briczinski told the legislators. “Raw milk is a key vehicle in the transmission of human pathogens including E. coli, Campylobacter, Listeria and Salmonella. The state should not create new opportunities for these bacteria to make people sick.”

Briczinski also discounted the supposed health benefits of raw milk often touted by advocates and the media. “No claim related to the purported health benefits of raw milk has been substantiated in any of the medical literature,” she said. “The only scientific consensus is that raw milk can cause serious illnesses and hospitalizations, and can result in life-long negative health complications and death.”

Currently, 30 states allow distribution of unpasteurized milk, which is also where nearly 75 percent of raw milk-associated outbreaks have occurred. Americans have become ill after consuming raw milk from numerous sources, including cow-share programs and raw milk producers who are licensed, permitted, or certified.