Friday, November 20, 2009

More states may OK raw-milk sales to help dairies, but FDA may ban sale of aged raw-milk cheese

Dairy farmers can receive $4 to $6 per gallon more for unpasteurized milk than the common pasteurized version, but there's one problem: The Food and Drug Administration banned interstate sale of raw milk 22 years ago. Individual states can regulate how unpasteurized milk is produced, bought and sold within their borders and just over half allow sale in some form, Hillary Brenhouse of The New York Times reports.

"There’s no middleman, and people are willing to pay a premium for raw milk and related products," Sally Fallon Morell, president of a D.C.-based organic-farming advocacy group, the Weston A. Price Foundation, told Brenhouse. "As the dairy crisis gets worse, raw is becoming more and more attractive."

The FDA warns unpasteurized milk and related products are "inherently dangerous" and can contain lethal pathogens, including salmonella, E. coli and listeria. Raw-milk advocates argue that pasteurization kills enzymes, bacteria and vitamins that are nutritionally beneficial and help with digestion.

Even as some states considering repealing their bans on raw milk sales to help struggling dairy farms, FDA plans to reconsider its only exception to the raw-milk ban, allowing sale of cheese produced from raw milk and aged for more than 60 days. A 2008 listeria outbreak that killed one and made 30 others ill in Quebec was traced back to raw-milk cheese. John Sheehan, director of FDA.’s division of plant and dairy food safety, says raw milk "should not be consumed by anyone, at any time, for any reason,” and the cheese exception is no longer effective. (Read more)

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