In March, two national associations representing dairy processors and dairy producers expressed their opposition to legislation in Congress that would allow the interstate sales of raw milk.

The International Dairy Foods Association, Washington, D.C., and the National Milk Producers Federation, Arlington, Va., said that “the risks inherent in raw dairy products are not worth any imagined benefits to either consumers or producers of unpasteurized milk products. Raw milk skips the pasteurization safety process, and this is playing Russian roulette with the health of too many Americans – including many of our children.”

The two associations urged lawmakers to reject the “Interstate Milk Freedom Act of 2014,” a bill introduced by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), which would repeal a long-standing ban on the sales across state lines of unpasteurized milk. Federal law currently gives states the discretion to regulate raw milk within their borders, but the dairy organizations expressed concern that repealing the interstate ban would greatly increase the production and consumption of a known health hazard.

“Consumption of raw milk is a demonstrated public health risk,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “The link between raw milk and foodborne illness has been well?documented in the scientific literature, with evidence spanning nearly 100 years. Raw milk is a key vehicle in the transmission of human pathogens, including E. coliO157:H7, Campylobacter, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella,” he stated.

“Our dairy industry benefits from a very high degree of consumer confidence — confidence built in large part due to the excellent food safety record of milk and dairy products,” said Connie Tipton, President and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association. “While choice is an important value, it should not pre?empt consumers’ well?being. To further ease the regulations surrounding the national sale of raw milk is an unnecessary risk to consumer safety.”

 The two dairy groups said that the Centers for Disease Control have reported that nearly 75% of raw milk?associated outbreaks have occurred in states where sale of raw milk was legal. Only 1% to 2% of reported foodborne outbreaks are attributed to dairy products. However, of those, over 70% have been attributed to raw milk and inappropriately?aged raw milk cheeses.