The sale of raw pet milk is legal in nearly all states; national manufacturers of raw pet dairy sell milk and other products such as kefir and cheese in most of them. In many of these states, however, there have been no reports of farmers receiving government approval to sell raw pet milk. That looks to be gradually changing; over the past couple years farmers have been approved to sell raw pet milk in Delaware, New Jersey and Virginia. During a time of rising feed and fuel costs for Grade A dairies, along with pay prices that don’t offset the rising cost of inputs, selling raw pet milk is another potential revenue stream.
Most states have adopted as law the model publication of the Association of the American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), a document that governs the production and distribution of commercial feed, including pet food. There is a section in the model publication on feed terms which provides a definition for “milk”; the definition does not state that the milk must be pasteurized. Any state that adopts the feed terms section has legalized the sale of raw pet milk unless its statutes or regulations state otherwise.
Farmers wanting to sell raw pet milk in most states will either apply for a commercial feed permit or file an application for registration with the state department of agriculture; part of the process also includes submitting labels for the raw dairy products the farmer wants to sell. States typically require that the labels contain the statement “for animal consumption only“ or “for dogs and cats.” It is not the producer’s legal responsibility to follow their customers home to find out who is actually consuming the raw pet milk but if customers make it clear that they will be using the milk for human consumption then the farmers are running the risk of a misbranding charge if they go through with the sale. In this context, misbranding means knowingly selling a product for a purpose other than the purpose indicated on the label. There are some states such as Nevada that require a toxic dye or denaturant be added to the milk; in trying to prevent humans from consuming raw pet milk, these states are destroying the market for the product—people aren’t interested in poisoning their pets.
States shouldn’t be able to deny a license or registration application to sell raw pet milk when their laws allow it. Hopefully, more states will be approving farmers to sell raw pet dairy going forward.