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Sponsor of Maryland Raw-Milk Cow-Share Bill Gives Up

The individual cow-share (or herd-share) scheme Maryland legislative analysts said could double the number of the state’s raw milk-caused outbreaks is dead. Delegate James Hubbard (D-Bowie) withdrew House Bill 3 on Monday after failing to get it through the House Health and Government Operations Committee.

The veteran legislator could not dislodge HB 3 from the committee after the Department of Legislative Services reported that the bill could both double raw-milk outbreaks and increase the number of sporadic or isolated cases of illnesses from unpasteurized milk from almost none today to 100 to 165 a year. Legislative services provides Maryland lawmakers with independent fiscal and policy analyses of bills.

Dr. Katherine Feldman, of the Maryland Department of Health’s Infectious Disease Bureau, was also concerned about the dangers of unpasteurized milk. She said raw milk is conducive to the growth of various bacteria.

“Pasteurization is the cornerstone of milk safety and a triumph of public health,” Feldman said.

Hubbard got a little bipartisan help from Delegate Nic Kipke (R-Anne Arundel), who argued that raw milk should be legal since alcohol, cigarettes, oysters and tanning also have health risks but are legal and available in the state.

HB 3 would have exempted the sale of raw milk and raw milk products from regulations governing production, processing, labeling and distribution if the final consumer had an ownership interest in the animal or herd that produced the raw milk. It would not have applied to restaurant, retail, commercial, wholesale or other sales of raw milk and raw milk products to subsequent buyers.

Making raw milk sales legal through cow-share or herd-share ownership agreements would have cost the state at least $66,100 in 2015, according to fiscal estimates.

Under current law, Maryland prohibits selling raw milk for human consumption unless it’s used for making farmstead cheese. Milk must be sold to processors, who pasteurize it before it can be distributed and sold to consumers.

Raw milk does reach consumers in Maryland from neighboring Pennsylvania, where the sale of unpasteurized milk is legal and where, from time to time, the state line fails to be a barrier to distribution.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 148 outbreaks of disease from 1998 to 2011, causing 2,384 illnesses, 284 hospitalizations and two deaths. CDC found states that permit sales of raw milk have a higher incidence of milk product-related illnesses than those that don’t.

Currently, 20 states ban the sale of raw milk, 18 allow limited on-the-farm or farmer’s market sales or cow-share schemes, and 12 permit raw milk to be sold in retail stores.

© Food Safety News
  • Johnny C

    I understand the health/food safety concerns. But how much money are dairy farmers in Maryland missing out on? How much added revenue does it generate for the neighboring PA state? Or even 18 other states that shares that market?

    • Dr_Otter

      I miss out on a lot of income by not freely prescribing narcotics to anyone that can pay, but that doesn’t mean I should do it.
      Public Health often cuts into profits–that’s why it is a government function and not left up to the producers themselves.

  • Guest

    The real question is how much additional liability is a farmer at risk for. In today’s litigious society, one outbreak with kids getting sick and the farm may never recover. I you want to drink raw milk buy a cow and care for it yourself and take the risk involved.

  • Katie

    This is absolutely ridiculous. Let people decide what they want to eat. Pasteurization was a triumph of public health when you’re combining milk from bulk tanks from many farms, and transporting it many miles to be processed. Milk that has been handled properly and is going right from the animal to your own refrigerator is safe! If raw chicken is allowed to be sold, then raw milk should be allowed to be sold.

  • ellyanah

    It’s perfectly acceptable for adults to choose to drink unpasteurised milk (which in my opinion is a foolish risk) but what is not acceptable is exposing your children to this risk. How many children’s deaths from E. coli should there be before they ban it in every state? Is it worth the risk? Even one death is too many.

  • “Hubbard got a little bipartisan help from Delegate Nic Kipke (R-Anne Arundel), who argued that raw milk should be legal since alcohol, cigarettes, oysters and tanning also have health risks but are legal and available in the state.”

    *head desk*

    *head desk*

  • Dr_Otter

    Two comments:

    1. Children are not capable of making an informed choice in this matter. Charge parents who expose their kids to raw milk with misdemeanor child neglect and bump up the charges to felony reckless endangerment if the child is sickened with lasting consequences.

    2. If adults want to drink raw milk after being told the risks, just think of it as another means of Natural Selection.

    This approach might also be used to address the anti-vaccine movement.

  • Ok…how about quote your research…got any facts or data? You are correct and you make our point…Pasteurization was started to remove harmful bacteria from raw milk. DUH!!! Cows urinate and defecate in their own drinking water. Where do you think this raw sewage ends up? In the milk of the cow…the milk that YOU are drinking and feeding YOUR CHILDREN. I agree with Dr. Otter…natural selection will eventually take care of the adults…but why put your children at risk. They “may never” get sick from consumption of raw milk…you may never kill your child in a car accident…does that stop you from putting them in a seatbelt/carseat? Or, do you take the risk and say …”it’ll never happen to me” and zoom off down the highway at 80 mph with your child unrestrained in the vehicle? Here’s the bottom line and it’s really simple…Raw Milk sales are ILLEGAL in many states…ILLEGAL…that means against the law…and why??? BECAUSE IT’S NOT SAFE. If you give your child raw milk, they can’t control that…you control what you put in your body…so how about this, go grab a handful of cow manure, plate it and gobble it up…that’s exactly what you are doing when you drink or give your family raw milk. Using data like the idiot in Maryland…”oysters, tanning, cigarettes etc…are sold with health risks, why not raw milk”…are you kidding me? Cigarette companies were fined BILLIONS of dollars for MAKING cigarettes addictive…yet we keep buying them and smoking them up…we know the risk…we accept the risk…our children DO NOT. Oysters??? cook them and don’t eat them raw…ever see that sign in the restaurant where you buy seafood…CONSUMING RAW OYSTERS can cause severe health risks…COOK THEM!!! Tanning??? Really, you considering a tanning bed to be on the same level as forcing poison down the throat of your child? Wake up. There are NO scientific benefits to raw milk…NONE. ZERO! NADA! There is no upside…and the down side is…it could KILL your child…wake up…