milk in a bulk tank

I sympathize with the reader who does not want government interference in the details of our individual lives (Reader Response: Raw milk is a right). Yes, it is the consumers' right to choose "nutritious food" of their own choice. We all do that every day, and in doing so we expect the food we choose to not make us sick. But as much as we might wish to embrace the ideal that the "best" food is minimally processed and obtained directly from the farm, in the case of milk this ideal is not always met, and not necessarily because the dairy producer did something wrong. In the case of milk, processing is clearly better.

Food safety is all about keeping us alive and healthy so that we can go on living our lives as we wish, within the obvious cultural and legal constraints of our society and our nation. Governmental regulations do not prohibit the consumption of any food, but government regulation casts a wide net over how that food is grown, harvested, processed, packaged, and delivered, be it meat, milk, fruit, vegetables, or any other product on the grocery store shelf.

Against that background of concerted efforts to maintain a supply of safe food, the practice of consuming raw milk, packaged and sold without inspection, is a public health crisis waiting to happen. It remains my contention that in this highly litigation-prone society, individual dairy farmers should understand that they are risking everything they have worked for when they sell raw milk, and the dairy industry as a whole should recognize the overwhelming demand by the public for "safe food" by supporting all food safety regulations and protocols. At the same time, I am fully aware that many dairy producers gain substantial additional income through the sale of raw milk, and have never had a case of food poisoning traced to their farm. But that does not mean that their raw milk has not caused illness, as an estimated 97 percent of all food caused illnesses are never reported, and only 20 percent of those reported are ever traced to a source.

Restricting raw milk sales is not about government interference in the details of citizens' lives. It is about the dairy industry protecting itself from a potentially serious public relations fiasco. It is about preventing individual dairy producers being exposed to the loss of their livelihood and the possibility of prison terms. It is about the government carrying out its very necessary and worthwhile duty of doing everything reasonably possible to maintain a safe food supply for all Americans.

Roy Williams, New Hampshire

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2015
September 14, 2015
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