Milk producers would be able to sell raw, unpasteurized milk in Iowa if the state Senate approves a bill that has already made it through the House of Representatives.

Healthcare and agricultural groups, including the Iowa Public Health Association, Iowa Farm Bureau, and Iowa State Dairy Association, are on record as being opposed to the bill because of public health concerns.

The bill was already approved by the Senate, but the House made revisions to it that require the proposed legislation to be voted on again by the higher chamber. The bill, referred to as Senate File 315 was approved in the House of Representatives by a 64-35 vote.

The approved version includes an amendment added by Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, to require that raw milk producers test dairy animals for bacteria. It does not require that the raw milk itself be tested for bacteria or viruses, which can allow contaminated milk to enter the stream of commerce.

Rep. Megan Srinivas, D-Des Moines, is opposed to allowing the sale of unpasteurized milk in the state. She says as an infectious disease physician she has seen multiple children as patients who fell ill after consuming raw milk.

“It’s one thing if it’s an adult choosing what milk that they’re consuming,” Srinivas told the Iowa Capital Dispatch. “But when we have children who are falling victim because they are being given milk that can make them sick, (and) have permanent or even lethal ramifications, that’s where I get concerned.”

Kaufmann said he understands Srinivas’ perspective but disagrees with her assessment that her concerns mean the government should not allow the production and sale of raw milk. According to the Capital Dispatch, he likened such government control to the Disney character Jiminy Cricket sitting on consumers’ shoulders and telling them what to do.

Most state health and agriculture departments as well as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say it is not safe to consume unpasteurized, raw milk because it often contains dangerous pathogens. The sale of such milk is banned from sale across state lines.

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