The bipartisan National Conference of State Legislature (NLCS) says No. 3 on its Top 10 climate-setting trends for 2017 is “Regulations on Review.”
“Rules and regulations at all levels of government are on the hot seat,” says the Denver-based NLCS. “State legislators will be busy in several policy areas deciding what needs to be regulated for the public’s safety and what needs to be freed from unnecessary and burdensome rules.”
Some state lawmakers are going to use the new legislative mood to reduce or eliminate regulations that limit the sale and distribution of milk that has not been pasteurized. Most of these will involve bills that were previously introduced and defeated.
Texas effort renewed with pre-filed bill
Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton, has pre-filed House Bill 57 with the Texas House of Representatives in Austin, which permits the sale of labeled raw milk on the farm, at a consumer’s residence or at farmers’ markets. The bill would require a label disclosing that the product being sold is raw milk.
“This product contains unpasteurized milk. Consuming raw foods, including raw dairy products, may increase your risk of food-borne illness. Persons at higher risk for food-borne illness include pregnant and nursing women, children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems,” is the text for the warning labels, according to the bill.
Single-use containers would be required and sales would have take place within five days of being filled, unless the product is frozen or remains frozen until sold.
Flynn’s bill also addresses the ongoing dispute of whether a third-party can be employed to make deliveries by coming down in favor of such contracts.
New Jersey bill faces Senate hurdle
Another state setting the table for a raw milk bill is New Jersey. The New Jersey Assembly’s Agriculture and Natural Resources committee approved Assembly Bill 696 on Dec. 12 by a 5-0 vote.
The New Jersey Assembly last approved a similar version of A696 in the 2010-11 session when it received a 71-6-2 vote. However, raw milk legalization has never made it to a Senate vote, and the Senate committee to which it was most recently assigned never took action on it.
As passed through the Assembly Agriculture Committee, A696, would establishe a separate permit process for New Jersey dairy farmers who want to sell raw milk. Testing for certain bacteria and other pathogens would be required.
A permit could be revoked with two successive failures within the same year.
Signs and labeling with warnings about the milk being raw and not pasteurized are required under the bill.
Now in their holiday breaks, the Texas Legislature begins its 2017 full session on Jan. 10, and New Jersey resumes on Jan. 13.
More than 50 sickened by raw milk in England
Meanwhile one of the new methods of selling raw milk in Europe has run into a problem in England.
A farm supplying raw milk for vending machines has been found to be contaminated with campylobacter bacteria and at least 56 people have become sick after drinking the unpasteurized milk. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) of the United Kingdom has banned the farm from selling raw milk until further notice.
The Dec. 23 order was imposed as an emergency prohibition note by FSA on Richard Park’s Low Sizergh Farm in South Cumbria, located in Northwest England.
In an appearance before Furness Magistrates’ Court, the FSA notice was accepted as a permanent order, banning the farm from future raw milk sales until it identifies and rectifies the source of the outbreak.
Park has admitted he was aware since September, based environmental sampling, of the high levels of bacteria contamination at the farm. He continued selling raw milk from his farm. He also failed to disclosed the contamination to FSA as required by law.
FSA, the South Lakeland District Council and Public Health England are working on the investigation.
A handful of states in the U.S. permit raw milk sales in retail stores, but stand alone vending machines have not made it across the Atlantic, yet.
(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)