This week the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), who together represent about 85 percent of the dairy industry, called on the Senate to include raw milk regulation in the pending food safety reform bill. 

raw-milk-sign-featured.jpgIDFA and NMPF want S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, which the Senate is currently considering, to explicitly require that all facilities producing raw or unpasteurized milk products for direct human consumption register with the FDA and adhere to the same food safety requirements followed by other dairy facilities.

Raw, unpasteurized, milk is a growing trend that some in the dairy community view as threatening to the entire industry.  The Weston A. Price Foundation, a proponent of raw milk, estimates that as many as a million people in the U.S. regularly consume unpasteurized milk, though only eight states in the U.S. allow the sale of unpasteurized dairy products in grocery stores.

“Before pasteurization became widely utilized in the 1920s, human consumption of raw milk was one of the major sources of food borne illnesses and one of the primary causes of infant mortality,” said IDFA CEO Connie Tipton and NMPF CEP Jerry Kozac in a letter to senators. 

“It is important to the health of the American public, and for the continued confidence in the dairy industry, that the new food safety legislation bolsters the success of the [Pasteurized Milk Ordinance] and applies any new FDA requirements to raw milk and raw dairy products.”

The Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO) is a hazard-based plan for monitoring the farm-to-plant delivery of finished milk products to retail stores. In coordination with the FDA, PMO requirements are updated every two years, which results in what the industry deems “very low numbers of food safety problems for pasteurized dairy products.”

The FDA has unequivocally declared the consumption of raw milk unsafe. According to the agency’s website, “Raw milk is inherently dangerous and it should not be consumed by anyone at any time for any purpose.” The agency cites a long list of potentially deadly pathogens that could contaminate raw milk–from E. coli to Listeria monocytogenes–as reason for consumers to stick to pasteurized dairy products.