Dairy Processing - January/February 2024 - 68

ASSOCIATION INSIGHTS
growing
concerns
As states legalize raw milk sales, dairy processors
must advocate for public health and industry stability.
by John Umhoefer | Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association
I
n 2023, three states - Georgia, Iowa and North Dakota -
enacted laws allowing the sale of raw, unpasteurized milk,
becoming the latest examples of an abrupt and alarming
policy shift coast-to-coast.
In just the past five years, the number of states legalizing
raw milk sales jumped from 20 to 46. Most restrict raw milk
sales to the farm site, but a growing number - now 14 - allow
retail grocery store sales, too.
THE GREAT DEBATE
In Wisconsin, strong opposition from processors and their
advocacy organizations, including Wisconsin Cheese Makers
Association (WCMA), alongside farmers and representatives
of the medical community ended four separate bids between
2009 and 2016 to allow broad sales of raw milk, accepting only
incidental exchanges between a farmer and consumer.
The debate over raw milk sales has lain dormant in
America's Dairyland since then, but in late November, a small
group of Wisconsin lawmakers introduced a new bill designed
to legalize both the advertisement and retail sale of raw milk,
requiring only very limited testing and reporting on the part of
dairy producers.
It's an irresponsible idea, jeopardizing both consumers'
well being and the strength of a backbone industry
for Wisconsin.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
Let's refresh ourselves, first, on what's at stake when it
comes to public health. Raw milk can carry Campylobacter,
68 JAN-FEB 2024 | DAIRYPROCESSING.COM
Cryptosporidium, E. coli, listeria, Brucella and salmonella -
all harmful and sometimes lethal pathogens. People who get
sick from raw milk may experience gastro-intestinal distress,
but others - more likely young children, senior citizens, the
immuno-compromised and pregnant women - can experience
severe complications, including Guillain-Barré syndrome,
which can cause paralysis, and hemolytic uremic syndrome,
which can result in kidney failure, stroke or death.
From 2013 through 2018, 75 outbreaks voluntarily reported
to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were
linked to raw milk. Outbreaks during those years sickened
2,645 people and caused 228 hospitalizations and three deaths.
More recent reports reveal a continued pattern. In
November 2023, four people were hospitalized and another
20 made sick by consumption of raw milk in California and
Utah. In September, five people in Wyoming were infected
with Campylobacter and E. coli bacteria, landing two children
in the hospital. Just a few months earlier, the Minnesota
Department of Health reported one child hospitalized and
seven people sickened with cryptosporidiosis and E. coli
after drinking raw milk.
There have been outbreaks in Wisconsin, too. Notably,
in 2014, 38 people gathered for a high school football team
dinner all consumed raw milk and suffered Campylobacter
jejuni infections, with 10 hospitalized. In 2011, 16 fourth
graders and their family members became ill after they drank
raw milk at a classmate's birthday party. One of the children
was hospitalized because of the outbreak.
The scientific data and illness outbreak records we have,
John Umhoefer, executive director,
Wisconsin Cheese Makers
Association (WCMA)
http://www.DAIRYPROCESSING.COM

Dairy Processing - January/February 2024

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Dairy Processing - January/February 2024

Dairy Processing - January/February 2024 - Intro
Dairy Processing - January/February 2024 - FCa
Dairy Processing - January/February 2024 - FCb
Dairy Processing - January/February 2024 - 1
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