Yesterday, Georgia State Rep. Doug McKillip introduced a bill in the Georgia House that would legalize the sale and consumption of raw, unpasteurized milk.

As the law currently stands in Georgia, raw milk is illegal to sell for human consumption, but activists and farmers have been trying to change the law since state officials raided a local farmer’s supply last October. 

Rep. McKillip’s bill would elevate raw milk to the legal status of any lawful milk product in the state, meaning it would be regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

“I believe that raw milk should be made available to consumers in the state if they want,” he said.

Rep. McKillip is the most recent politician to get involved in the debate raging over raw milk, which has grown in size and volume in the last few years. Local producers and consumers say it is more nutritious, tastes better, and is no more harmful than pasteurized milk, which is heated to kill bacteria.

“Bacteria are critical to life itself. Our immune systems are suffering terribly because of antibiotics, superbugs and sterilized foods,” said Mark McAfee, a raw milk producer in California. “People who drink raw milk know this and seek out raw milk precisely because it is bio-diverse and enzyme rich.”

However, many experts, including government officials and scientists, warn that it can sicken or even kill you. Raw milk potentially contains a wide variety of harmful bacteria – including Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, Listeria, Campylobacter and Brucella – that may cause illness and possibly death.

As a result, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have concluded that the health risks associated with the consumption of raw milk far outweigh any benefits derived from its consumption.

This position is evidenced in standing federal regulations. Today, it is a violation of federal law to sell raw milk packaged for consumer use across state lines (interstate commerce), but each state can regulate the sale of raw milk within the state (intrastate).  Some states therefore allow raw milk to be sold. As of 2006, according to the FDA, 25 states had laws outright banning the sale of raw milk for human consumption, including Georgia.

Regardless of the national numbers, Rep. McKillip said he thinks the dairy industry will grow and provide economic benefits to the state if the bill passes. 

“Allowing raw milk sales actually greatly strengthens small dairy farmers. Properly regulated, I don’t see why we shouldn’t sell raw milk.”

  • Hurray for Georgia and Rep. McKillip! Freedom of choice, freedom to farm. That my kind of America – the old kind.
    Spinach and peanut butter shouldn’t be outlawed just because they are produced irresponsibly. Neither should milk. Know your source, know your producer!

  • Teresa

    I am tired of the government acting like no of us have a brain. And I am tired of some people acting like the government should protect them from their own choices. Let us all grow up and make responsible choices for ourselves. If we want to drink raw milk…then we should be allowed to. Like it was just mentioned above…check your sources, no where your food comes from. If we all did that there would be less problems with the food to begin with.

  • Esther Graff-Radford

    This is fantastic – more healthful choices for me and a better set of regs for GA’s small farmers.

  • Wow Yall Are Dumb

    I agree, screw boiling things, I want as much potentially lethal bacteria in everything I consume as possible.

  • Simon Jester

    It’s not a matter of whether you agree that it is safe or not. It’s perfectly fine if the gov’t wants to say “we don’t think this is safe because of X & Y”, but it should end there. The people should make the final decision for themselves.
    Far too much of what the FDA, etc. rules on is based on lobbying, money & politics, rather than actual data. The gov’t needs to stay out of our lives.

  • Dean Earlix

    As a microbiologist, I have one hesitation before I drink any legalized, raw milk: will the dairy be handling it like pasteurized milk? Some pretty deadly shortcuts have crept in to some dairies, like careless sanitizing of the cow teats, failing to fully flush milk transfer tubing, and inconsistent sterilization of collection vessels. Why be careful when you know your time-saving shortcuts will be erased by literally boiling the milk to death? The same shortcuts with raw milk, however, could be murder.
    For centuries, people drank raw milk in safety, probably because milk is naturally antibiotic, and farmers who poisoned their customers didn’t stay in business long. With today’s milking technologies coupled with a careless or lazy dairy worker accustomed to pasteurization to cover up mistakes, the rules have changed.
    A careless dairy will still go out of business if they poison their customers, but what I would like to see a licensing process where raw milk sellers PROVE they can provide a safe product, then police themselves for the good of their niche industry.

  • Brian Wilber

    I grew up drinking raw milk. In fact we went straight to the farm and watched as it was drawn from the cooling tank. Not once did we have a problem with illness caused by unpasteurized milk. The only reason the FDA says it’s dangerous is because the dairies (not the farmers) have lobbied in favor of pasteurization. Think about it, if it’s not pasteurized or homogenized, who needs the dairy? No money to be made if they are bypassed. Follow the money, always follow the money.

  • Lori B

    excellent comments!!

  • Deb K

    Many of us farmers drink our own raw milk. We handle our dairies with more care and cleanliness than the packaging houses. In 17 years it has never caused an illness. Government regulation and price-setting is what is putting the small, careful farmers out of business. Go GA-RAW MILK-Freedom of choice. P.S. A local doctor looking at the bacteria test on our milk said there is more legal bacteria in medicines than in our milk. The bacteria scare with the modern pipelines and cooling systems is only for government control so the big milk companies with their lobbyists can make mega bucks while the farmers go broke. Bacteria was more of a problem years ago when it sat out by the road in the sun in cans being picked or carried in cans in the sun by horse and buggy.

  • Debbie

    The story quotes Mark McAfee, a raw milk producer in California. Mark is founder of Organic Pastures Dairy and internationally recognized as an expert in raw milk production. More about Mark can be quickly found with a Google search. Georgia should allow raw milk production and sales of raw milk products available. It’s not like human beings weren’t drinking raw milk for centuries before pasteurization.

  • Olivia

    Raw milk is alive — it has an immune system — so obviously you want it from a healthy animal. Sick cow = sick milk.
    Healthy raw milk can be infected with e.coli and the milk will attack and kill it. It’s PASTEURIZED milk that is lethally dangerous because there’s lots of food for dangerous bacteria and nothing to inhibit growth. Your only protection is that it be completely sterilized and protected from any infection.
    I’m more afraid eating at your average raw ingredient salad bar.