In the last month alone, two of the largest distributors of raw (unpasteurized, unprocessed) milk in the Northwest, PCC Natural Markets and Whole Foods, announced plans to discontinue the sale of raw milk altogether. The reason, they said, was that many experts, including government officials and scientists, warn that raw milk is a high risk food that 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.
State laws in California, Washington state, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut, however, allow raw milk and raw milk products that meet state standards to be sold in retail stores. And proponents say it is more nutritious, tastes better, and is no more harmful than pasteurized milk.
In 2009, two leading public health agencies, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP), held informational sessions to discuss emerging issues surrounding the increasing popularity of raw milk. After examining the scope and complexity of the debate, many participants felt that there was a need for a website entirely devoted to raw milk. Last night, such a website was launched.
The site, http://www.realrawmilkfacts.com, is designed to serve as a clearinghouse for scientific studies, presentations, commentaries, regulations, and position statements on the topic. Developed and reviewed by scientists and health educators in universities, government, industry, and trade organizations, the site offers news, Q&A, personal stories, and lucid analysis of the real risks and benefits of raw milk.
Michele Jay-Russell, Co-Organizer of the American Veterinary Medical Association Raw Milk Symposium and President of the American Association of Public Health Veterinarians, said discussions during the session were the inspiration for creating a new Website.
“We continued to exchange information after the meeting, and created a place online where consumers interested in natural foods and health could obtain factual information about the benefits and risks related to raw milk,” Jay-Russell said.
Bill Marler, managing partner of Marler Clark, the Seattle-based food safety law firm, said the site is an amazing collaboration of experts, academics, and scientists.
“Marler Clark was proud to support the work of everyone who participated in putting the site together,” he said. “Special thanks go to our clients who were willing to share their stories of the real risk of raw milk.”