IDFA and the National Milk Producers Federation last week sent four letters urging Tennessee state lawmakers to oppose proposed legislation that would loosen restrictions on the sale of raw milk butter to consumers in the state. They also opposed legislation that would exempt certain homemade foods and beverages, including raw milk, from existing requirements for food branding, labeling and inspection.
Two proposed House and Senate bills, HB 1963 and SB 1913, would remove existing regulations prohibiting the direct sale of raw milk butter to consumers, a move IDFA and NMPF told lawmakers is a step in the wrong direction. Although the bills define the term “butter” to have the same meaning as currently used under federal law, it would create a loophole because it does not require that milk or cream used in the production of butter be pasteurized.
“Eliminating the regulations that currently prohibit the sale of raw milk butter in Tennessee increases the risk to public health, opening up the state’s consumers to the inevitable consequence of falling victim to a foodborne illness,” IDFA and NMPF said in the letters. “No matter how carefully it is produced, raw milk is inherently dangerous. Americans have become ill after consuming raw milk and raw milk products obtained from farms of varying sizes, from cow‐share programs and from licensed, permitted or certified raw milk producers.”
HB 1963 has been referred to the House Subcommittee on Agriculture and Natural Resources for discussion this week. SB 1913, which was discussed by the Tennessee Senate on Monday, awaits further action.
Read the letters from IDFA on HB 1963 and SB 1913.
Dairy Products Processed in a Home Kitchen
A second set of bills, HB 2229 and SB 2104, would exempt homemade products or beverages, including raw milk and milk products, from licensing, inspection and regulation. IDFA and NMPF stressed that these bills would introduce a loophole that could allow raw milk products to cause serious disease outbreaks.
These bills “would effectively remove existing regulations prohibiting the direct sale of raw milk and milk products when sold from a home kitchen, consumption of which has been opposed by every major health organization in the United States,” IDFA and NMPF said.
The letters highlighted a 2012 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that linked 73 known outbreaks to unpasteurized dairy products between 1993 and 2006, and these outbreaks caused 1,571 cases of foodborne illness, 202 hospitalizations and two deaths.
“In a 2007 report, the CDC concluded that ‘State milk regulations and methods for their enforcement should be reviewed and strengthened to minimize the hazards of raw milk,’” IDFA and NMPF said.
HB 2229 will be discussed this week by members of the Tennessee House Subcommittee on Agriculture and Natural Resources, while SB 2104 will be reviewed this week by the Tennessee Senate Committee on Health and Welfare.
IDFA will continue to monitor the bills and engage with Tennessee officials and legislators.
Read the letters from IDFA on the HB 2229 and SB 2104.
For more information, contact Dave Carlin, IDFA senior vice president of legislative affairs and economic policy, at firstname.lastname@example.org.