Dairy groups push Nevada governor to veto raw milk sales

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



ARLINGTON, Va., May 30, 2013 - The two largest U.S. national dairy organizations urged Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) Tuesday to veto pending legislation that would allow the sale of raw milk to consumers in his state.

In a letter to the governor, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) said Nevada's Assembly Bill No. 209 would increase Nevadans' risk of serious illness because of potentially dangerous bacteria that may be present in milk that has not been properly pasteurized.

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“Gambling with the health of your state's residents - particularly its children - is a bad bet,” said Jerry Kozak, NMPF president and chief executive officer, in the letter. “While choice is an important value, it should not pre-empt consumers' well-being,” he said.

The letter cited a 2012 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which found that between 1993 and 2006, unpasteurized dairy products resulted in 73 known outbreaks - causing 1,571 cases of foodborne illness, 202 hospitalizations, and two deaths.

The CDC, according to the letter, concluded unpasteurized milk was 150 times more likely to cause food-borne illness outbreaks than pasteurized milk, and such outbreaks had a hospitalization rate 13 times higher than those involving pasteurized dairy products.

The letter said the CDC has reported nearly 75 percent of raw milk-associated outbreaks have occurred in states where sale of raw milk was legal.

“Legalizing the state-wide sale of raw milk in Nevada increases the risk to public health, opening up the state's consumers to the inevitable consequence of falling victim to a foodborne illness,” said Connie Tipton, IDFA president and chief executive officer. “No matter how carefully it is produced, raw milk is inherently dangerous.”

Currently, federal law bans interstate sales of raw milk but allows states to determine how to regulate the product within their borders. An increasing number of states have liberalized sales of raw milk recently, which dairy organizations say is a threat to public health and runs counter to other trends in the food industry to take more steps to prevent unsafe foods from reaching consumers.

“Raw milk is a known source of life-threatening pathogens such as campylobacter, salmonella, listeria and E. coli,” Tipton said. “It's an abdication of a public servant's role to take actions that will result in more people, including children, becoming sickened by these bacteria.”

The legislation would allow raw milk and raw milk products, from Nevada's Nye County, to be sold anywhere in the state.

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