October 21, 2018

Cow Share Arrangement for Raw Milk Sales Allowed in WV

The legislature in West Virginia has cleared a bill that will let people purchase raw milk through cow herd share arrangements. The vote was 81-19, according to the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. The sale of raw milk has been illegal in that state up to now.

MilkThe retail sale of raw milk, at farms or at retail establishments, will not be allowed. Consumers would fill out a contract of ownership for a cow, and sign a form acknowledging that they are aware of the health risks posed by this product. In addition, physicians would be required to report any illnesses caused by raw milk to public health officials.

Unfortunately, food poisoning outbreaks linked to raw milk increase in states where raw milk sales are legal. All raw milk contains pathogenic bacteria. Pasteurization is the only way to ensure that the milk you drink is safe.

Children under the age of five are most likely to suffer serious health problems from raw milk consumption. Hemolytic uremic syndrome, a complication of E. coli O157:H7 infections, is most common in young children. HUS can cause kidney failure and death. There have been several raw milk outbreaks in the past few years caused by E. coli O157:H7 in the product.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that the number of raw milk outbreaks in this country increased from 30 in 2007 – 2009, to 51 in 2010 – 2012. The increase matches the number of states making the sale of raw milk, either through direct sales or cow share arrangements, legal. Most of the outbreaks took place in states where the sale of raw milk is legal, and in adjoining states. People who own cow shares will travel to other states to purchase raw milk and raw milk products.

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