Two recent actions, one at the state level and another at the federal level, underscored the importance of pasteurization for milk sold to consumers and helped to protect the dairy industry's strong food-safety record.
The New Jersey State Senate's Economic Growth Committee last week removed from consideration a bill that would have legalized the sale of raw milk to consumers in the state. Earlier this week, the White House responded to a public petition, turning down the request to legalize raw milk sales for consumers across the country.
The New Jersey committee was set to hear testimony on a bill, A. 743, which would allow the sale of raw milk to consumers at the farm level. The bill had been passed by the State Assembly in April and was awaiting Senate approval. The committee chairman, Senator Stephen Lesniak (D-Union), pulled the bill from the hearing agenda due to significant opposition, effectively killing the bill for the rest of the legislative session.
IDFA sent a letter last March to the committee members and sent a joint letter with the National Milk Producers Federation in April to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Senate Majority Leader Stephen Sweeney in opposition to the bill.
White House Response
The White House response reiterated the administration's belief that raw milk for human consumption has potentially dangerous health risks and should not be allowed for sale across interstate lines. The response, written by Doug McKillop, senior policy advisor for rural affairs, stressed that claims of extra nutritional value in raw milk are unfounded and that raw milk has been shown to cause illness.
"This administration believes that food-safety policy should be based on science," McKillop said. "In this case, we support pasteurization to protect the safety of the milk supply because the health risks associated with raw milk are well documented."
IDFA has consistently opposed the sale of unpasteurized milk to consumers, because it may contain harmful bacteria that can cause life-threatening illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration recommend that no one consume unpasteurized milk, and federal law prohibits the retail sale of unpasteurized milk across state borders.
Raw milk regulations vary by state, however, and some states allow the sale of raw milk to local retail food stores or directly from the farm to consumers within their borders. Other states have considered expanding access to raw milk, and IDFA will continue to monitor and oppose these actions.
"We congratulate the New Jersey State Senate and the White House for looking out for the safety of consumers," said Jerry Slominski, senior vice president of legislative affairs and economic policy. "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other organizations have endorsed the pasteurization of milk and restriction of the sale of products containing raw milk."
For more information, contact Slominski at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 220-35