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Groups Urge State Legislators to Reject Raw Milk Bill
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 11/24/2015

A group of state farm organizations, health professionals and commerce leaders are banning together once again to urge lawmakers to reject any efforts to legalize the sales of raw milk. The Wisconsin Safe Milk Coalition, which is made up of 18 organizations, wrote to members of the state legislature this week asking them not to co-sponsor a bill that would permit the on-farm sale of unpasteurized milk.

According to group representative Shawn Pfaff, their opposition stems from the fact that consumers cannot be assured that such products would be safe if they are consumed.

"Studies and reports and real-life incidents continue to show that raw milk can cause people to become severely ill," Pfaff said. "Medical, public health and microbiology professionals recognize the substantial risk for serious infectious diseases to occur with the consumption of unpasteurized milk."

The memo cited a peer-reviewed paper by Dr. John Lucey, director of the Center for Dairy Research. He said supporters of raw milk who claim the product contains 'improved nutrition, prevention of lactose intolerance, or provision of good bacteria' from the consumption of raw milk have no scientific basis and are myths.

Pfaff also noted that nearly 140 raw milk health outbreaks have occurred in the United States since 1998, resulting in nearly 2,500 illnesses and two deaths.

"Wisconsin citizens have suffered the real-life impacts of two raw milk outbreaks in recent years," Pfaff reminded legislators. "In September 2014, nearly 40 Durand high school students became severely ill after consuming raw milk at a potluck celebratory dinner for the school's football team. In June 2011, 16 fourth-graders and some family members in Racine County became ill after they drank raw milk at a classmate's birthday party."

Last week, Rep. Dave Murphy introduced a bill that would legalize the sales of unpasteurized milk and other dairy products in Wisconsin. The Greenville Republican says his measure will allow dairy producers to sell their products directly to consumers from the farm.

Supporters have long claimed that raw milk tastes better, contains bacteria that helps fight disease and is more natural. But the coalition says the entire dairy industry can suffer if just one illness or death from the product were spotlighted in the media.

Members of the coalition include Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians, Wisconsin Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, Marshfield Clinic, Wisconsin Medical Society, Wisconsin Association of Local Health Departments and Boards, Wisconsin Nurses Association, Wisconsin Public Health Association, Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association, AMPI, Cooperative Network, Dairy Business Association, Foremost Farms USA, Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, Wisconsin Dairy Products Association, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, Wisconsin Grocers Association Inc., and Wisconsin Insurance Alliance.

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