Alaska's state legislature will consider a bill authorizing raw milk sales as long as products have labels that state they are unpasteurized and could cause health concerns, according to Food Safety News.
The bill, proposed by Anchorage-area Rep. Geran Tarr, would allow the state's cities and towns to purchase raw milk as long as the price is no more than 7% higher than out-of-state milk costs. State money could also be used to purchase raw milk for schools.
In a statement accompanying the bill's filing, Tarr said its intent was to strengthen the state's agricultural sector. "The topic of raw milk sales can be controversial but I believe consumers should have the choice if they want and this bill creates opportunities for small scale direct purchases,” she wrote. “Food freedom consumer choice legislation and initiatives, like HB 46, are in direct response to consumers who are asking for locally grown and sourced products."
If a raw milk sales could save the state's dairy industry and small businesses, as Tarr suggests, who can argue?
For starters, the Food and Drug Administration.
“Raw, unpasteurized milk can carry dangerous bacteria such as Salmonella, e. coli and Listeria, which are responsible for causing numerous foodborne illnesses, ” an agency website detailing the dangers of raw milk says. The site includes a short video pointing out that “hundreds of people have gotten sick from drinking raw milk over the past decade.”
Hundreds may not sound like a lot, unless one of them is your customer.
Raw milk has seen a resurgence among people who believe the pasteurization process also alters its nutritional value and taste. Interstate transportation of raw milk is prohibited by federal law, but states can regulate their own sales. Last year, West Virginia passed a law allowing herd sharing, where several people can have part ownership of cows in order to have access to raw milk. Several lawmakers toasted the bill's passage with raw milk — and got sick soon after.
Perhaps some regulations are best left alone.