Amendment to Legalize Raw Milk Called ‘Inhumane’ by Milk Industry
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced an amendment to the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012 that would allow for the direct sale of raw milk and raw milk products across state lines. The proposed amendment has triggered praise from advocates who promote raw milk’s health benefits and outrage from dairy industry associations over food-borne illness from unpasteurized milk.
Paul’s amendment (submitted on June 6, 2012), titled “Interstate Traffic of Unpasteurized Milk and Milk Products,” would amend section 1240.61 of the Code of Federal Regulations to eliminate the “mandatory pasteurization for all milk and milk products in final package form intended for direct human consumption.”
Proponents of raw milk consumption say that pasteurization eliminates some of milk’s essential vitamins, minerals, and beneficial bacteria. The Weston A. Price Foundation wrote in a Sep. 2011 statement that raw milk contains “components that can reduce or eliminate populations of pathogenic bacteria, ensure assimilation of nutrients, and stimulate the immune system.”
Twenty-nine states allow the sale of raw milk in varying legal degrees, according to the US Food and Drug Administration. A Mar. 2012 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that between 1993 and 2006, unpasteurized dairy products caused 1,571 cases of food-borne illness, 202 hospitalizations, and two deaths. The CDC also concluded that unpasteurized milk was 150 times more likely to cause food-borne illness outbreaks than pasteurized milk, and such outbreaks had a hospitalization rate 13 times higher than those involving pasteurized dairy products.
The National Milk Producers Federation and International Dairy Foods Association co-authored a letter to Congress opposing the proposed amendment, stating that “Pasteurization is one of the greatest public health tools. To compromise or reduce its use through this legalization is not just bad politics – it’s a huge, inhumane step backwards, and one that will cause sickness and death. The link between raw milk and foodborne illness has been well-documented in the scientific literature, with evidence spanning nearly 100 years.”
Public debate on raw milk has increased in recent months after several federal raids on the sale of unpasteurized milk. Police raided and arrested the owners of Venice Beach, CA health food market Rawesome on Aug. 3, 2011 for selling raw milk and raw milk products, and a US District Judge on Feb. 3, 2012 ordered an Amish dairy farmer to stop selling unpasteurized milk across state lines.
Rand Paul’s amendment comes on the heels of a statement Ron Paul, Rand’s father, made during a Dec. 13, 2011 presidential campaign stop where he voiced his support for the Amish farmer and for raw milk legalization. The candidate noted “I’m all for raw milk. I think you should make your own choice on whether you drink raw milk or not.”
On May 24, 2012, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry sent the bill to the Senate floor where debate is expected to continue for the next several months.
James Eng, “Amish Farmer Targeted by FDA Raids Shuts Down Raw Milk Business,”
msnbc.com=”color:>, Feb. 15, 2012
Food and Drug Administration, “CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21,” accessdata.fda.gov, Apr. 1, 2011
GovTrack, “S. 3240: Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012,” govtrack.us (accessed June 13, 2012)
Adam J. Langer, “Nonpasteurized Dairy Products, Disease Outbreaks, and State Laws – United States, 1993-2006,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, Feb. 21, 2012
Library of Congress, “Bill Summary & Status 112th Congress (2011 – 2012) S.3240,”
thomas.loc.gov=”font-size:>, May 24, 2012
National Milk Producers Federation, “NMPF and IDFA Oppose Senate Farm Bill Amendment Legalizing National Sales of Raw Milk,” NMPF.org, June 8, 2012
Sarah Parnass, “Milking It: Ron Paul Wants Choice on Raw Milk,” abcnews.com, Dec. 15, 2011
Weston A. Price Foundation, “A Campaign for Real Milk,” westonaprice.org, Sep. 2011