June 22, 2018

Lawsuit Challenging Interstate Sales Restriction of Raw Milk Struck Down

A federal judge in Iowa has dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) rule prohibiting interstate commerce of unpasteurized milk.

The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund and several of its members who produce and consume unpasteurized, or raw, milk, filed a complaint in February 2010 seeking to overturn the FDA’s ban on interstate raw milk sales calling it “unconstitutional.”

With the exception of certain cheese, unpasteurized, or raw milk products intended for human consumption have been prohibited in interstate commerce since 1987. According to the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pasteurization of dairy products is the best way to prevent foodborne illness from bacteria such as E.coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Yersinia, and Brucella.

Some states allow the retail sale of raw milk, some allow the sale only from the site of the farm, some through animal-share programs and some prohibit raw milk sales completely. Raw milk enthusiasts who live in states where the sale of raw milk is prohibited will sometimes drive to a neighboring state to purchase raw milk.

In the complaint, the plaintiffs allege that interstate sales ban infringes on the following rights: “the right to travel across state lines; their right to feed themselves and their families the foods of their choice; their right to raise their families in accordance with their beliefs about food; and their right to have an agent of their choice deliver to them the food of their choice,” according to the court document, a copy of which was obtained by Food Poisoning Bulletin.

The plaintiffs were seeking an injunction of the enforcement of the ban, an injunction prohibiting the use of taxpayer money to enforce the ban, attorneys fees and other costs.

But on Monday, March 30, 2012, U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett in Sioux City dismissed the case saying raw milk consumers have not suffered under the ban as the “FDA has never taken, nor does it intend to take, enforcement action against an individual who purchased and transported raw milk across state lines solely for his or her own personal consumption.”

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