March 22, 2018

Raw Milk Bill Defeated in Louisiana

Louisiana House Bill 1279, which would have legalized the sale of raw milk in that state, failed in the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare. Legislators had concerns about the safety of unpasteurized milk. Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain opposed the bill on safety grounds.

Milking CowsA campaign called “I Love Raw Milk” was launched in support of the bill. The state has restrictive policies on the sale of raw milk. A Senate committee vote of 4-1 killed the bill. On May 7, 2014, the House approved the bill 78-19 after it was recommended on a close vote by the Committee on Agriculture, Forestry, Aquaculture and Rural Development.

The law would have required registration of a farm of dairy, and posting signs at point of sale stating that “This produce, sold for personal use and not for resale, is raw milk that has NOT been pasteurized.” It would also have limited milk to “zero organisms” of E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, and Campylobacter.

The problem with that last regulation is that it is impossible to guarantee. Bacteria cluster in microscopic clumps in milk, and every last millimeter of milk cannot be tested and is not tested for the pathogenic microorganisms. That’s why, even when raw milk is rigorously tested with the latest equipment, it can still make people sick.

A long list of dairy standards and cleanliness, including removal of waste and animal droppings, disposal of soiled bedding, screens for keeping animals out, and immediate refrigeration of the milk were included in the bill. It should be noted that Listeria monocytogenes, one of the bacteria that can contaminate milk, grows at refrigerator temperatures.

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