On the final day of the state’s legislative session, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill to make some sales of raw, unpasteurized milk legal.
The Iowa State Dairy Association opposes the sale of unpasteurized, raw milk direct to consumers. The association says raw milk can harbor dangerous microorganisms, such as salmonella, E coli, campylobacter, and Listeria, which can pose serious health risks. Raw milk can be especially dangerous for infants and young children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems.
Most state health departments and departments of agriculture, as well as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, advise against the consumption of raw milk for the same reasons.
The transport and sale of raw milk across state lines are against federal law because of health concerns.
The Iowa legislature OK’d the bill to allow some sales of raw milk by votes of 64-to-35 in the House and 37-13 in the Senate. Sen. Jason Schultz, R-Crawford, and the floor manager for the bill said it has taken 17 years for a raw milk bill to survive the legislative process.
Supporters of the plan argued it gives consumers more freedom in the choice of foods they buy. Those against the plan said they worry about the health impact that drinking raw milk can have on Iowans.
Rep. Megan Srinivas, D-Des Moines, is an infectious disease doctor. She said raw milk increases the chances of infection by 150 times and brings about outbreaks that impact others beyond just those who are milk drinkers.
The measure sent to the governor permits sales from farms directly to consumers of raw, unpasteurized milk.
The off-farm sale of raw milk, such as at farmer’s markets and grocery stores is still prohibited. Raw milk sold on farms must carry labels warning about the lack of inspections or freedom from regulations involving pasteurization and grading.
Raw milk dairies will have to submit to testing, mostly on animals, and keep records that health officials can access. Monthly “coliform counts” for bacteria levels and yearly veterinarian check-ups are required.
The law also states that raw milk can only be sold if stored at 45 degrees or lower and needs to be distributed within seven days. Farmers can’t distribute milk from animals recently treated with antibiotics.
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