The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sent a letter last week to state and territorial public health officials with information and resources on the risks of consuming raw milk and other unpasteurized dairy products. Noting that “pasteurization is the only way to ensure that fluid milk products do not contain harmful bacteria,” the letter urged officials to support pasteurization and consider further restricting or prohibiting the sale and distribution of raw milk and other unpasteurized dairy products in their states.

The May 9 letter from Robert Tauxe, deputy director of CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases, expressed concern about continued outbreaks of illness associated with consumption of raw milk, even though a federal ban on the interstate sale of raw milk has been in effect since 1987.

“Eighty-one percent of outbreaks were reported from states where the sale of raw milk was legal in some form; only 19% occurred in states where the sale of raw milk was illegal,” Tauxe said, adding “The reported outbreaks represent only the tip of the iceberg. For every outbreak and illness that is reported, many others occur that are not reported.”

The letter mentions that CDC recently updated its website with new information and materials, including a list of publications and other scientific resources on illnesses associated with raw milk consumption. Visit http://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/rawmilk/raw-milk-index.html for more details. 

The International Dairy Foods Association and the National Milk Producers Federation have joined together this spring to oppose a variety of efforts to allow greater sales of raw milk, including a bill introduced by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) that aims to repeal the federal ban on sales across state lines. IDFA and NMPF also publicly opposed efforts in California, Louisiana, Maryland and South Dakota that want to ease regulations and remove barriers to the sale of raw milk to consumers.