Political reason and common sense, which were nowhere to be seen in recent months as a proposal to allow dairy producers in Wisconsin to sell unpasteurized raw milk directly to consumers successfully worked its way through both the State Senate and Legislature, surfaced just in time when Governor Jim Doyle vetoed the measure on Wednesday.
Unfortunately, they might never have surfaced at all if not for the intense solidarity of opposition from dairy producers, processors, and animal and human health groups. Doyle had previously indicated he would sign the bill into law, despite overwhelming scientific evidence that it poses potentially fatal health risk to some people.
Both National Milk Producers Federation and the International Dairy Foods Association were among the loudest opponents of the idea.
"It is terribly ironic that, at a time when [federal] lawmakers are trying to pass a major food safety bill to protect consumers from food borne illnesses, states like Wisconsin are going the opposite direction," said Jerry Kozak, CEO of NMPF.
Connie Tipton, President and CEO of IDFA, agreed. "There is absolutely no science behind the claims of raw milk supporters that pasteurization does anything other than make safer a potentially hazardous product." She added that while raw milk accounts for less than one percent of fluid milk consumption, it is responsible for over 70 percent of food borne illness caused by dairy products.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, between 1998 and 2008 consumption of raw milk in the U.S. was responsible for 1,614 documented cases of illness, 187 hospitalizations, and two fatalities. FDA has also issued multiple public warnings advising consumers to not drink raw milk.