A rule change published earlier this year by the Illinois Department of Public Health is drawing fire this spring from raw milk advocates who object to three provisions in the proposal. These are:

  • On-farm sales would continue to be permitted, but limited to 100 gallons per month.
  • Raw milk dairies would be required to purchase equipment need to achieve Grade A certification.
  • Dairy farms would be required to maintain a log of customer names and numbers.

Illinois bans retail sales of raw milk, allowing on-farm sales under production regulations. The department wants to update those regulations and has initiated the process that eventually requires approval by both the State Board of Health and the Illinois General Assembly. Molly Lamb, who heads the Food, Drugs, and Dairies unit of the department, says it will likely take six more months for the rule-making to reach its conclusion. At a rollout in Bloomington, IL, several dozen raw milk advocates turned out to oppose the changes. Raw milk dairies are objecting to the added equipment costs and restrictions on sales. Raw milk advocates say raw milk is both healthier than and tastes better than pasteurized milk. In its “Health Beat” series on its website, the Illinois Department of Public Health warns people in the Land of Lincoln of the dangers of consuming milk that is not pasteurized, saying: “Illness due to these bacteria can lead to diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, headache and vomiting. These symptoms typically last anywhere from several hours to a week or more but most healthy people will recover. Illness acquired outside the United States can include flu-like illness, recurring fever, night sweats and cough. These illnesses can become serious and medical attention should be sought.” The proposed rules would also prohibit so-called “herd sharing” schemes where farmers sell “shares” in their animals in exchange for production of raw milk and raw milk products. Illinois health officials say they are attempting to limit widespread distribution of any raw milk products and put a system in place to track anyone unfortunate enough to be caught up on an outbreak of disease that is often life-threatening.