A bill that would have expanded access to raw milk for Texans has died this session. In Texas, raw milk can only be purchased on the farm where it was produced. The bill, HB 46, which was authored by Rep. Dan Flynn R-Canton, would have changed that, allowing home deliveries and sales at farmers markets. The raw milk products would have had to carry labels bearing the producer’s name and the statement: “This product contains unpasteurized milk. Please consult with your physician to determine if this product presents a health risk.”
The bill, which was first read in February met with opposition from the medical community. The Texas Medical Association (TMA) and the Texas Pediatric Society (TPS), which together represent 47,000 physicians and medical students, presented testimony to the Texas House of Representatives Public Health Committee. The testimony was provided on behalf of the medical organizations by Edward Sherwood, MD, a member of the Department of State Health Services Health Care Associated Infections and Preventable Adverse Events Advisory Panel, who is board-certified in infectious diseases and internal medicine, and a fellow in the American College of Physicians.
Sherwood said pasteurization as “one of the most effective public health practices put into place in the United States” and that “no scientifically rigorous studies exist that show health benefits from drinking raw milk over pasteurized milk.” In other states where access to raw milk was expanded, regulations on testing, temperature and transport were outlined, none of which are contained in HB 46, he said. “If HB 46 is implemented, more people may become ill from raw milk consumption — resulting in greater costs to the state for investigation, inspection, and the care of those who will need to be hospitalized. These illnesses and hospitalizations are preventable.”
HB 46 did not get scheduled for a vote in the House this year. So, for now, Texans seeking raw milk must continue to travel to the farms where it is produced.