Thursday, April 11, 2013

Raw Milk Freedom

I've given up trying to understand how freedom connects with allowing the sale of raw (unpasteurized) milk in Arkansas but it has been the theme for a majority of the Arkansas House of Representatives this session. It shouldn't have surprised me after witnessing one of the committee hearings in Little Rock at the Capital last Friday when I was told that the legislators chanted "Freedom,Freedom,Freedom" inside the House of Representative chambers when they passed the bill to legalize the sale of raw milk. (I'd call that a chant of ignoramus!)

Although all Grade A dairy farmers work to produce safe milk by following proven production methods and caring for our animals to keep them healthy, pasteurization of milk is scientifically proven to be the key to providing a safe product for consumers. The reason we don't have raw milk illness very often is that out of all the milk produced in the United States, only 1% of milk is unpasteurized.

This new law does provide the freedom to sell raw milk but it doesn't offer any protection to Arkansas consumers or Grade A dairy farmers. Grade A dairy farms are permitted by the Arkansas Department of Health, inspected monthly to make sure barns and equipment meet standard and the milk is tested each time it is picked up at the farm.

A thirteen year study by the Center for Disease Contol and Prevention on Nonpasteurized Disease Outbreaks found that :
  • Raw milk was much more likely to cause outbreaks than pasteurized milk.
  • Outbreaks caused by raw milk tended to cause more severe disease.
  • Younger people were affected more in outbreaks caused by raw milk than in outbreaks caused by pasteurized milk.
  • States that allow the sale of raw milk had more outbreaks caused by consuming raw milk.
This new law increases the opportunity for raw milk illness by just legalizing raw milk sales. Raw milk illness can impact Grade A dairy farms because this damages the image of all milk. This puts Arkansas Grade A dairy farmers at greater economic risk even though we have produced safe milk because the public will have fear of all milk.

All this new law requires of anyone wishing to sell raw milk is to post a sign at the farm stating you know you are purchasing raw milk and accept the liability. There is no provision in the law for oversight by the Arkansas Health Department or any other state agency to provide any measure of protection to the consumer.

It's a food safety issue---not freedom. You can find more information about raw milk at Real Raw Milk Facts or Midwest Dairy.


  1. Great article and right on, all Grade A dairy farms will be economically effected and trust will be diminished if there is a foodborne illness associated with consuming raw milk.

  2. Thank-you for your comment and taking time to stop by!

  3. Thank you for sharing some information on this issue. I agree and appreciate all the work you do to make a good product!