A federal ban on raw milk?

The FDA already forbids the interstate sale of unpasteurized milk. A section tucked into the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 threatens to give the agency new powers over intrastate commerce, overriding the rights of consumers and state laws allowing its sale. The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund explains:

HR 2749 requires the HHS Secretary to issue “science-based performance standards . . . applicable to foods or food classes.” The Secretary is to “identify the most significant foodborne contaminants and the most significant resulting hazards . . . and to minimize to an acceptable level, prevent or eliminate the occurrence of such hazards.” [8a] FDA would have the power to make pasteurization of all raw milk a performance standard. Based on both its public statements and its record of taking enforcement actions against farmers, FDA is vehemently opposed to the consumption of raw milk and would like to ban its distribution.

Even if FDA does not issue a performance standard requiring pasteurization, the likelihood is that if HR 2749 passes into law, the agency will be increasing its enforcement actions against raw milk producers whose products cross state lines. FDA has indicated that raw milk is a priority item with the agency; with the passage of HR 2749, it would have much greater resources to go after raw milk than it did before. FDA could take enforcement action directly or through state agencies funded by FDA.

The bill doesn’t explicitly mention pasteurization, but if that’s an accurate reading of the law it could effectively end legal raw milk sales in the US. My case for removing government barriers to buying raw milk was published at Reason last year.

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