Friday, March 13, 2009

In Connecticut, Raw Milk Is In Play

In the US and Canada, states and provinces fall into one of a few categories with respect to their stance on raw milk:
  • In many states of the US and all provinces of Canada, raw milk is not allowed to be sold, period. ("Cow-share" arrangements, wherein customers buy some fraction of a cow and hence own that cow's milk, have been judged to be legal in some jurisdictions and illegal in others. To see how this has played out for one organic dairy farmer in Ontario, click here.)
  • In some states, you can purchase raw milk only on the premises of certain specially-licensed farms.
  • In a few states, any store with a license to sell milk can sell raw milk. (The farms that distribute the raw milk are still subject to special licensing and inspection requirements.)
Connecticut is one of a handful of states in that last category. This may change, if some lawmakers get their way (see link). Here's the story, in brief: Last summer, four people in Connecticut got seriously sick from consuming a food product (raw milk) from a single source (one farm). As a result, the state legislature wants to significantly restrict sale and distribution of this food product. Now let's see…when people die from eating tainted ground beef, lots of people every year, are there calls for restriction of the sale and distribution of ground beef? How about spinach? Tomatoes? The situation in Connecticut affected product from one particular farm, and was probably the result of a sanitation problem on that farm, and/or inadequate inspection of that farm. An appropriate response would be to figure out what circumstances led to the bad milk, address these circumstances, document the situation very well for everyone's benefit, fine the farm if appropriate, and get on with it. NOT to pass laws making it harder for people to buy this product. The small-scale production and distribution of raw milk in the US actually makes it much less likely to cause a large-scale public health risk than any industrial food product. Raw milk is bottled on a farm-by-farm basis, and comes from smaller farms; industrial pasteurized milk is mixed in huge tanks, meaning that a taint is likely to affect many, many more people. And industrial ground beef—you don't even want to know. I've stopped eating the stuff myself. For more information about raw milk, including information about raw milk options in your area, visit the website.

No comments: