The Iowa Senate has passed a bill to legalize the sale of raw milk at dairy farms.
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A recent trend toward raw-milk bills in state legislatures is worrisome. (iStock)

If this becomes law, it would be legal to sell raw milk and other products made from unpasteurized milk, like cheese, yogurt and ice cream sold directly at the dairy where it’s processed. However, it would remain illegal to sell unpasteurized milk at restaurants and farmer’s markets.

Republican Senator Jason Schultz of Schleswig said many states now allow raw milk sales in some fashion. “If we do this, get it all the way through, there’ll be only five states left,” Schultz said. “…It’s not a political issue. This is just a [decision of] ‘Do we want to let the people who want this have access to it?”

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) very much opposes the sale of raw milk and actively tries to monitor the issue at the state level to stop such efforts.

“Selling raw milk for human consumption is a demonstrated public health risk — no amount of testing or added on-farm procedures are going to ensure the same level of safety as pasteurization,” Miquela Hanselman, manager of regulatory affairs with NMFP says.

Joining forces, the Iowa Farm Bureau, the state’s dairy industry and Iowa grocers oppose the bill. Senator Janet Petersen, a Democrat from Des Moines, said raw milk should have a warning label because pregnant women are at serious risk of becoming ill from Listeria if they consume it.

“A warning label to prevent stillbirth, miscarriage, death of a newborn and illness of a pregnant mom I don’t believe is too much to ask,” Petersen said.

Senate Democratic Leader Zach Wahls of Coralville said federal data shows at least 144 Americans had to be hospitalized between 1993 and 2012 after consuming raw milk.

“This idea that there’s no connections to hospitalizations or outbreaks is simply not true,” Wahls said.

In addition, no claim related to the health benefits of consuming raw milk has been substantiated in any reputable medical literature.

“Selling raw milk for additional revenue on dairy farms isn’t worth the liability and larger risk to public health, and any illness outbreaks associated with raw milk would tarnish the dairy industry’s reputation for integrity and harm every dairy farmer nationwide,” Hanselman states.

A recent trend toward raw-milk bills in state legislatures is worrisome.

“But given our society’s current struggles with misinformation and a lack of understanding and appreciation for science – especially in the realm of medicine and public health – it is unfortunately not a shock,” Hanselman remarks.

Previous attempts to legalize raw milk sales in Iowa have stalled in the past two decades. The Senate bill on the subject passed on a 32-15 vote and goes to the House for review.

AUSTRALIA – The government of Australia has awarded funds to two local dairy companies, Purearth and Australian Consolidated Milk, in an effort to boost local milk production.

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