Two national dairy organizations say they oppose an amendment put forth in the Senate by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) that would allow the interstate sales of raw milk.
The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), based in Arlington, Va. and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), based in Washington, DC oppose the amendment to the 2012 Farm Bill, No. 2180, that would permit the sale of raw milk and raw milk products across state lines.
Currently, federal law prohibits the interstate sale of raw milk. However, states can regulate raw milk sales within their borders. In most states where the sale of raw milk is permitted, the sale must take place on the site where the milk was produced.
In recent years, raw milk has become popular with a small segment of the population who believe it has health benefits. Although there is no scientific basis to support that idea, there is plenty of evidence that shows that no matter how clean the farm or conscientious the farmer, or natural and organic a cow’s diet, raw milk can harbor dangerous pathogens such as E.coli, Campylobacter, Listeria and Salmonella all of which can can cause serious illness or even death. Pasteurization is the only way to kill pathogens in raw milk.
Still, raw milk enthusiasts wil make the drive to raw milk farms, sometimes in neighboring states, to make their purchases. They are strong advocates for changes that would make their purchasing choices more convenient.
“The link between raw milk and foodborne illness has been well-documented in the scientific literature, with evidence spanning nearly 100 years, said Connie Tipton, President and CEO of IDFA in the statement. “Raw milk is a key vehicle in the transmission of human pathogens, which is why its consumption has been opposed by every major health organization in the United States, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.”
Jerry Kozak, President and CEO of NMPF pointed out that “nearly two-thirds of all outbreaks associated with raw milk or raw milk products involve children. It is the responsibility of our nation’s leaders to make decisions to protect the health of the American public, most especially, those who are minors and are unable to make fully informed decisions that could have profound consequences for the rest of their lives,” he said.
Children are involved in the majority of raw milk outbreaks and are among those most at risk of becoming seriously ill from foodborne pathogens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). So far this year, there have been five foodborne illness outbreaks associated with raw milk that have sickened 142 people including a two-year-old child in Oregon who was hospitalized for a month suffering strokes and fighting kidney failure and undergoing surgery to have a portion of her colon removed.