The deadline is noon today, but unless there is a morning groundswell of activity one might easily come to the conclusion that Canadians don’t give a rip about making raw milk legal. An official House of Commons petition to Canada’s Minister of Health has collected a mere 4,877 signatures since it became available online April 13 under the sponsorship of Larry Miller, Member of Parliament for Bruce-Gray Owen Sound in Ontario. Among the 36.286 million Canadians, however, just 0.012 percent have signed the Miller petition with less than 24 hours to go. Update: An additional 285 signatures were added to the petition by the deadline, for a total of 5,162 or 0.014 percent of Canada’s population. Here’s what the petition said: “Whereas:
- Humans have been consuming locally produced raw milk for thousands of years and have enjoyed the health benefits included therein, and raw milk contains enzymes and beneficial bacteria (probiotics) that are destroyed during the pasteurization process;
- Large scale industrially-produced dairy products present greater health risks which must be managed through pasteurization; milk produced on a small scale through local farms is subject to significantly lower risk levels;
- Health Canada’s existing policy and regulatory framework fails to differentiate between these risk levels and prohibiting the sale and distribution of raw milk is not a reasonable approach and the risk profile for raw milk is lower than other foods available to consumers; and
- Canada is the only G8 country that prohibits the sale of raw milk to consumers, any health risks associated with locally produced milk are being managed effectively in other jurisdictions through the use of appropriate evidence based standards and certification programs. The Government of Canada can learn from these successes, and Canadians should have the freedom to choose to purchase pasteurized or raw milk.
“We, the undersigned, Citizens of Canada, call upon the Minister of Health to modernize and amend the Food and Drugs Act and the corresponding Food and Drug Regulations, to permit the legal sale of, and/or access to, raw (i.e. unpasteurized) milk and milk products through small scale certified herd share programs, or other such suitable arrangements, capable of managing any associated health risks in a responsible and reasonable manner.” Miller, a Conservative Party MP who has represented his federal election district since 2004, told Bayshore Broadcasting News that if there are dangers from raw milk they should be “controlled or stopped.” “I am not going to go out on a limb and say that there is no risk from raw milk,” Miller said in the broadcast interview. Miller said he was raised on raw milk and believes it is safer today than when he was growing up. He said Canadians who want to drink raw milk are going to get it even if they have to go underground for it. Ontario, where Miller’s district is located, has provided the most signatures on the electronic petition, about half of the total as of Wednesday. While Miller is the MP sponsor of the petition, it was authored by Cody Harris of “Our Farms, Our Food Coop.” (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)