Two years of tweaking raw milk policies in Illinois has opened the state to legal raw milk sales for the first time in 30 years, but only on the farm where it is produced. The change comes as a result of a regulatory process involving the Illinois Department of Public Health and the state’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. It marks a compromise that ends so-called milk clubs that were known for making deliveries in the Chicago area by prohibiting any off-the-farm sales. Raw-milk2_406x250Raw milk is milk that hasn’t been pasteurized with heat to kill pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria and campylobacter. In the Land of Lincoln raw milk fetches $8 to $18 per gallon. The push for the right to pay that premium price for raw milk dates back two years.  State regulators decided to work outside the legislative process to put procedures for permitting and inspecting raw milk dairies into place. The goal was to bring raw milk sales inside state’s regulatory system. Officials relied on the state’s existing laws, including the Grade A Pasteurization Milk and Milk Products Act and the Illinois Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, to take the sale of raw milk from being totally illegal to legal when the milk is sold on the farm where it is produced. Under the changes, raw milk dairies making sales to the public must warn consumers of the potential danger, similar to the state’s rules for sushi sales. Health officials said by permitting only on-the-farm sales, it will be fairly easy to trace any outbreaks from the dangerous pathogens that raw milk often carries. Raw milk advocates, however, say there has not been a raw milk related outbreak in Illinois in 30 years. They also predict the deliveries to urban areas will continue under the table. The changes also empower state’s health department to demand testing for pathogens if there is an outbreak or if a high risk of infection exists. Only about a dozen states permit the retail sale of raw milk.   (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)