National Raw Milk Safety: No Outbreaks for First 2/3 of 2019

by Pete Kennedy, Esq.

In recent years there has been a trend of fewer foodborne illness outbreaks attributed to raw milk consumption even as the demand for the product has increased. That trend has continued so far in 2019; through the first eight months of the year not a single foodborne illness outbreak has been blamed on raw milk.

A possible factor in the decline in raw milk outbreaks are the educational materials on raw milk production and handling made available by organizations such as the Raw Milk Institute and the Farm-to-Consumer Foundation. In the future it’s possible that the state extension services might get involved in providing training to raw milk dairies; at least one state extension service is considering doing this now. With the decline of the conventional dairy industry it might not be too long before there are a number of states that have more dairies producing milk for direct consumption than dairies producing milk for pasteurization. There are thousands of test results from licensed retail raw milk dairies around the U.S. showing a much lower rate of positive pathogens than for tests done by conventional dairies.

In addition, a Canadian study published in September 2018 found, “The rate of unpasteurized milk-associated outbreaks has been declining since 2010, despite increasing legal distribution. Controlling for growth in population and consumption, the outbreak rate has effectively decreased by 74 percent since 2005.”1 The continued decline in foodborne illness outbreaks has reduced much of the fear-mongering on raw milk and has helped create the opportunity for a major expansion of laws allowing raw dairy access around the country.

  1. Whitehead J, Lake B. Recent trends in unpasteurized fluid milk outbreaks, legalization, and consumption in the United States. PLOS Currents Outbreaks. 2018 Sep 13. Edition 1. doi: 10.1371/currents.outbreaks.bae5a0fd685616839c9cf857792730d1.

This article was first published in the Fall 2019 issue of Wise Traditions in Food, Farming, and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation.

Pete Kennedy Pete Kennedy is a Florida attorney who has worked on issues governing raw milk production and distribution since 2004. He compiled a summary of raw milk laws in each of the fifty states and is currently a consultant for WAPF on, among other things, policies and laws regarding raw milk. Pete was a founding board member of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) and served as vice president and then president for many years. He has consulted on and drafted raw milk, cottage foods, and food sovereignty legislation; drafted and reviewed herdshare agreements; worked on embargo, seizure, and recall cases involving raw dairy products; worked on foodborne illness outbreaks attributed to raw milk consumption; handled issues involving on-farm slaughter, custom meat, and poultry processing as well as problems with zoning and local ordinances.