A bill to make raw milk sales legal has already passed the New Jersey Assembly by a veto proof 71-to-6 vote and is sitting in the Senate Economic Growth Committee.  So, the pasteurized dairy industry has gone to the “big man” himself, Gov. Chris Christie, looking for help.

A743 sailed through NJ’s lower house in mid-March with a little tinkering from Assemblyman John Dimaio, R- Hackettstown, the bill’s primary sponsor. The main change from his original proposal was the elimination of retail stores as places to sell raw milk.

The bill now before the senate committee would put the Department of Agriculture in charge of a permitting program, giving New Jersey’s Department of Health and Senior Services only an advisory role.  Inspections of raw milk would occur at the same time as other dairy farm investigations.

No vote has yet been scheduled in the New Jersey senate committee for A743.

Two dairy giants, the Arlington, VA-based National Milk Producers Federation and the Washington D.C.-based International Dairy Food Association checked into the New Jersey raw milk battle Monday with a letter to both Gov. Christie and State Senate Majority Leader Stephen Sweeney.

Both organizations are involved in the pasteurized dairy industry, representing more than 99 percent of the milk and dairy products sold in the United States.  In their letter, they charged that the food safety risks inherent in raw milk would increase the incidence of foodborne illnesses and reverse public health improvements in New Jersey.

“The link between raw milk and foodborne illness has been well-documented in the scientific literature, with evidence spanning nearly 100 years,” they wrote.  “Raw milk is a key vehicle in the transmission of pathogens, including E. coli O1576:H7, Campylobacter, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella.”

They pointed out that 90 percent of the outbreaks involving raw milk have occurred in states where sales are legal, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“America’s dairy farmers and processors have worked hard to ensure that they produce a safe, wholesome product, and a key pillar in the steps the industry takes is pasteurization,” Connie Tipton, president and CEO of IDFA said.

Pasteurization is the heat treatment used to eliminate pathogens from the dairy supply.

Federal law prohibits the interstate sale of raw milk, but states are empowered to regulate it within their own borders.

Almost half the states allow the sale of raw milk to the public in some fashion, ranging from on-farm sales to full-blown retail distribution. Bills to make raw milk sales legal in other states have been advanced this year, often on an economic development basis.

New Jersey’s Senate Economic Growth Committee is reviewing more than 20 Assembly bills, in addition to A743, that attempt to revive the state’s troubled economy by doing everything from promoting a “Jersey Fresh” label to suspending non-residential development fees.

  • Doc Mudd

    Hmmmm. Economic growth committee?
    In an affluent state whose economy is based upon high-powered service industries and light manufacturing; financial, pharmaceuticals, warehousing, telecommunictions…these dreamers are counting on raw milk producers becoming so enriched they somehow branch out and grow New Jersey’s economy?
    Well, maybe they’re counting on a ripple effect into health care, legal and insurance industries when people get sick and law suits fly.
    Imaginative approach by raw milkies this time, ‘raw milk for economic growth’ in an affluent urban state like New Jersey. At $8 – $20 per gallon plus resultant medical bills this does amount to a pretty stiff tax on deluded consumers of raw milk. Maybe call it a fool tax?
    realrawmilkfacts.com for the facts: http://www.realrawmilkfacts.com/

  • To Whom it May Concern,
    I would highly suggest researching things before believing all the hype about pasteurized things. Raw milk and other raw products have given me my life. I was so sick when I would drink pasteurized milk. I am so thankful to a friend who has studied nutrition that introduced me to raw milk.
    In the cases where raw milk has been the blame, has there been any other research that can isolate that raw milk is the culprit?
    If some people prefer pasteurized milk then let them drink it. For those of us who prefer raw milk and have seen positive results from drinking it, then let it be a choice.
    Pam Lee

  • Alan

    The pasteurized dairy industry sees this as an economic threat. End of story.

  • Nic Parton

    I don’t know where you get your raw milk from doc, but where I come from, it doesn’t cost $8 a gallon or make me sick. Medical bills? Those come from all the processed, homogenized “food” products that Americans subsist on. Face it, the backward notions about pasteurization are as useless as the rest of the mainstream American food system

  • Mary Langeron

    I guess if you’re really concerned about safety you could do some research on how many people are falling ill or dying from raw milk in Pennsylvania or other states – where raw milk is legal. And compare those numbers to people who are falling ill or dying from pastuerized milk. You can even go further and get those numbers from european countries where they have raw milk vending machines.
    And of course you can’t drink raw milk from cows that aren’t on pasture and need antibiotics for the inflammation that all the grain they eat creates in their guts.
    Once you do that research it won’t make too much sense to deny the right to raw milk to people living in NJ- unless of course your livihood depends on pastuerizing milk.

  • sara

    Let the people to decide their own decisions. If the government let the people to smoke cigarettes even its proven that several thousands of people die from diseases that result from smoking and cigarette sale is still legal, how about raw milk with a veterinary supervision to make sure the cows are living in sanitary conditions, getting their healthy nutrition and the milk cartons to be with a warming on the box and let the people to decide for themselves???

  • Michael Bulger

    Raw milk has been isolated as the source of a disproportionate amount of illness. It has not been isolated as a benefit to health.
    I would be curious as to whether anyone who disagrees with these statements could provide links to information that disproves these points.
    The unfortunate thing about the dairy industry in its present state is that it is credibly the most volatile market in American agriculture. Dairy farmers are facing fluctuating prices and consolidation, and this leaves too many at the mercy of drastic and severe market spasms. I believe this underlying economic stress is an unappreciated cause of the recent trend towards raw milk promotion and support.
    It is unfortunate that the economic hardships of the dairy industry would undermine the safety of their product by encouraging a market for products with less investment, higher returns, and (most unfortunately) higher risks and undesirable consequences. One should hope that the health of the dairy farmer could be preserved without the endangerment of the population.

  • Michael Bulger

    “I guess if you’re really concerned about safety you could do some research on how many people are falling ill or dying from raw milk in Pennsylvania or other states – where raw milk is legal. And compare those numbers to people who are falling ill or dying from pastuerized milk.”
    Mary, raw milk accounts for many more illnesses than pasteurized. This is despite the much smaller number of raw milk drinkers. Additionally, states where raw milk is legal have more illnesses from raw milk.
    Anyone seriously concerned about the health of the people of New Jersey would not support the expansion of raw milk consumption. This is especially true in the current climate of misleading statements being published by raw milk proponents.

  • Jim Schmidt

    For the record, legalizing the sale of raw milk would increase my workload and I have no relation to any Dairy Farmer or Processing plant.
    Yes, the more people that drink raw milk the more reports I’ll get of possible foodborne illness and have to do an investigation.
    I don’t have an issue with people having choice, but raw milk does not belong in retail stores. People who want it need to know what the risks are and do a little leg worker to get it. Even with that I’m sure people will give it to their kids who are more vulnerable to foodborne illness.
    I will tell you what I do have an issue with, and that is the myths and sometimes outright lies spouted by some raw milk advocates. You want to say raw milk tastes better? Great, no issue with that, but do not say it is safe, do not say that it cures something, do not say pasteurization makes milk “dead” or nutrient deficient.
    If you personally want to believe in these myths fine, I’m not going to bang my head against the wall. Just stop trying to replace the facts with your opinions.

  • Doc Mudd

    Massachusetts’ economy is boosted by raw milk sales…not:
    Such prosperity evident in the video (the junked truck is an especially nice touch)!
    Why not New Jersey too?

  • Kurt

    I have been drinking raw milk almost exclusively for about two years now. My health has improved. I don’t have sinus/allergy problems I had when I drank pasteurized milk. My mother used to think that she was allergic to cow’s milk until she started drinking raw cow’s milk. I transitioned over to raw via low-temperature pasteurized milk, which afforded me fewer sinus problems than the higher temp. processed milk. Although I am an organic farmer and appreciate many foods that way, the dairy industry has done organic milk no favors by subjecting it to high temperature pasteurization. I live in area with numerous large dairy farms. Many of the people on those farms won’t drink the milk they produce and I don’t blame them. I don’t trust it either. God didn’t create cows to be consuming large quantities of fermented feeds and grain. It’s no wonder that those cows only last about two lactations, on average.
    To be honest, Doc Mudd (what kind of doctor are you, anyway?), I don’t really care whether or not an economy improves due to raw milk sales. I am more concerned about my health, which has improved by drinking raw milk. This is not to say that I would drink raw milk from just any dairy, either. My dairy farmer is a stickler for cleanliness in his barn and his cows go out on grass, when it is available, where they belong.
    If you want to argue economics of small, grass-based dairies vs. big dairies, Doc, just say so. I’d be glad to take you on.

  • Doc Mudd

    No thanks, Kurt. You’re welcome to your opinions, of course, but testimonials like yours are a dime-a-dozen. Important to you and your mother, maybe, but a waste of everyone else’s time.
    The plural of anecdote is not data.

  • Kurt

    It may be a waste of your time, Doc, but to a growing number of people, it is significant. That there are a number of people I know who can’t drink pasteurized milk, but can drink unpasteurized, isn’t an opinion, it is a FACT.

  • Michael Bulger

    Kurt, testimonials such as the ones you refer to do not prove causation. It might be helpful if you review the definition of the word “placebo”. If you’d consider the fact that patients often report benefits from placebos, it should be easier to understand why Internet postings are not going to sway scientific opinion. Combine that with the FACT that raw milk more often transmits pathogens that cause serious illness and threaten health, and the positions of the public health agencies are unquestionably the appropriate positions.

  • Doc Mudd..
    Raw milk stats vs. treated milk illness death etc. since ’73.

  • Doc Mudd
  • Cesar

    It is crazy that the selling of cigarrett and alcohol is legal in this state, but raw healthy milk is illegal. We had been force to drink that chemical soup they call milk. The big producer of milk already have 99% of the sales and they are do greedy and want us to keep getting seek by drinking that stuff. Anybody that opposed this bill don’t know how healthy raw milk and it’s product are. Get inform please.

  • ken

    This is just one small example of gov’t interference in our lives . If the gov’t can now tell us what we can eat …. whats next ?? Gov’t was put into place by out forefathers to , first be small and havbe limited power . But also to protect our soveriegnty . It has gpne wy over and beyond those borders . I believe in raw milk and the freedom of us as a people , as is stated in the constitution . POWER TO THE PEOPLE > vote RON PAUL 2012 > get our FREEDOM back !