Will Nevada gamble with raw milk sales?

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“Every morning I have to look in the mirror and deal with the fact that I almost killed my son when I made the decision to give him raw milk.”

That’s what Mary McGonigle-Martin, a former raw milk advocate, wrote in an Op-Ed article featured on Food Safety News. She joins the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) in urging Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval to veto Assembly Bill No. 209, which would allow the sale of raw milk directly to consumers.

Despite being what she considered an educated consumer, McGonigle-Martin says she was unaware of the risks involved with drinking raw milk. McGonigle-Martin’s son spent two months in the hospital and eventually recovered from renal failure, congestive heart failure, a collapsed lung, acute pancreatitis, high blood pressure and seizures brought on by drinking contaminated raw milk.

“When I made the choice to give my son raw milk, I didn’t know something so horrific could happen to him,” she wrote.

Read her letter to Sandoval.

NMPF and IDFA echoed McGonigle-Martin’s concerns in a joint letter sent to Sandoval on Tuesday.

“Gambling with the health of your state’s residents – particularly its children – is a bad bet,” NMPF President and CEO Jerry Kozak said in a news release. “While choice is an important value, it should not pre-empt consumers’ well-being,” he said, likening consumption of unpasteurized milk to a game of Russian roulette.

“A single case of illness – even one caused by a well‐intentioned dairy farmer – that is attributed to raw milk or raw dairy products in Nevada would likely have an adverse effect on consumer confidence in and consumption of healthful, nutrient‐rich foods like milk, yogurt, and cheese,” the letter said.

Sandoval has until the end of the week to either sign or veto the assembly bill.

Click here for the NMPF and IDFA’s letter.

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May, 30, 2013 at 11:00 AM

According to CDC reports, no deaths were attributed to raw milk during the reporting period, while 3 deaths were attributed to pasteurized milk. By Kozak's reasoning, we should ban fluid milk. The CDC report compiled stats for 1993-2006. On average, there were 112 outbreaks per year of illness associated with raw milk and dairy products, and 203 outbreaks attributed to pasteurized milk and dairy products. The CDC conveniently left out 2007 when 135 people became ill eating pasteurized cheese. So if the real concern is reducing risk to people's health, maybe we should outlaw pasteurized products. Or maybe everybody get off their totalitarian horse and let consumers decide for themselves what to eat and drink.

Mass  |  May, 30, 2013 at 02:45 PM

Really? Yes there are fewer people affected by raw milk, if we go by pure number but what you, and most raw milk supporters, forget is that there is far less raw milk available for consumption vs. pasteurized milk. If you were to look at it in a percentage I do believe you would see a much higher percentage of problems associated with raw milk sales over pasteurized.

May, 30, 2013 at 08:25 PM

According to CDC, there are approximately 9 million raw milk drinkers, 112 illnesses is statistically insignificant. No deaths due to raw milk, whereas pasteurized milk had 3 deaths. I am a dairy producer, I don't sell raw milk, though I do drink it. I simply believe the government has no authority to dictate what one can or cannot consume. And it irritates me to no end that the dairy industry vilifies raw milk proponents, and is complicit in the lie that the milk I produce is dangerous. Why does this industry 'eat it's own?' You don't see the vegetable growers, or the government, insisting that everyone only eat cooked vegetables! Yet they are responsible for many more food illness outbreaks than dairy. Out of almost 24,000 reported food illness outbreaks every year, dairy, raw and pasteurized combined, account for just over 1%. Why does the dairy industry insist on using fear and misrepresentation to destroy this small segment of their own industry?

mass  |  May, 31, 2013 at 07:55 AM

The dairy industry, of which I have been a producer for over 40 years, has always been an "eat its own" industry. But let us not forget that many in the raw milk camp are the ones who fired the first shot stating that the milk I have produced and fed a nation with is somehow less healthy than theirs. This is no different than the organic camp also. In truth I believe in giving the consumer what ever they so desire so long as they forgo the right to sue the farmer for getting sick if the grocery store does not refrigerate enough because they want to save a few bucks, or if the consumer themselves do not handle the product correctly. While the statistics seem insignificant there are still far fewer consumers of raw milk, lets see what happens when the majority of consumers are raw milk drinkers. I hope it remains the same, but my fear is it could be the death of the dairy industry without some built in safeguards. As for vegetable growers they are caught up in their own debates between organic and conventional. They are also fighting out large v. small farms and growers and recording of farming practices. It is part of agriculture and part of competition. Unfortunately it is not good for either side sometimes.

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