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Nurses, doctors, others lineup against raw milk bill in Iowa

Opposition is building against an Iowa bill that would allow dairy operations in the state to sell unpasteurized milk directly to consumers.

Since it survived an initial subcommittee review with a 2-to-1 vote, opponents of House File (HF) 2055 have been registering their declarations against the bill, which remains in the House Local Government Committee.

Led by the Iowa Department of Agriculture, opponents of the raw milk bill include:

  • Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa;
  • Iowa Public Health Association;
  • Iowa Academy of Pediatrics;
  • Iowa Board of Regents;
  • Iowa Medical Society;
  • Iowa Farm Bureau;
  • Iowa Grocery Industry Association;
  • Iowa Geothermal Association;
  • Iowa Veterinary Medical Association;
  • Iowa Association of Counties;
  • Iowa Institute for Cooperatives;
  • Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI);
  • Iowa Dairy Association; and
  • Iowa Environmental Health Association.

No organization has declared support for HF 2055. Opponents are united in the single goal of killing the bill in the committee. The committee has not yet scheduled any action on the bill.

The two subcommittee members who supported the raw milk bill were Rep. Greg T. Heartsill, R-Chariton, and Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton. Rep. Heartsill is the bill’s sponsor. Rep. Art Staed, D-Cedar Rapids, voted to kill the measure in the subcommittee.

HF 2055’s future is now in the hands of the 21-member House Local Government Committee. It, like the Iowa House of Representatives, is under GOP control. Heartsill might request the bill be re-assigned to the House Agriculture Committee.

The Iowa bill would permit dairies to sell raw milk directly to consumers. The unpasteurized milk would have to bear a warning label stating:

“This container holds raw milk not subject to state inspection or other public health regulations that require pasteurization and grading.”

The bill provide for fines ranging from $65 to $650 and up to 30 days in jail for violations of the proposed law. Misdemeanor charges would apply.

Opponents form a powerful coalition of both industry and public health interests concerned about the dangers of raw milk, including such pathogens as E. coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter. Similiar alliances in other states have been successful in defeating efforts to legalize unpasteurized milk and other raw products made with it.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that raw milk is 800 times more likely to cause foodborne illness than pasteurized milk. “There are no health benefits from drinking raw milk that cannot be obtained from drinking pasteurized milk that is free of disease-causing bacteria,” according to the CDC.

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