People are allowed to buy and ingest a lot of things that could cause illness or even death. Spinach, tomatoes, eggs, bread, bottled water, smoked fish, spices, ground beef, cheese and herbs are some of the products recalled in recent times because of outbreaks of food poisoning.
Cigarettes, tobacco and alcohol may be legally sold to adults, but carry warning labels.
Raw milk, on the other hand, is illegal in all but 11 states, including New Jersey.
Opposition to raw milk comes from multiple fronts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, some farmers who send their milk for processing and worry that a food-borne illness from raw milk would taint the entire industry, and state officials concerned about potential insurance problems on raw milk farms.
Pasteurization has increased the safety of commercial milk products exponentially. It is equally true that food safety practices, product testing and liability thresholds have dramatically changed since pasteurization laws were introduced.
The state Assembly this spring approved a raw milk sales bill that includes strict permitting and inspection processes and would require warning labels on raw milk, which could only be sold from the farm. The proposal has stalled in a Senate subcommittee. Given the option of homogenized and pasteurized milk from a grocery or raw from a farm, most consumers will stick with the former. Many will do so for convenience and price. And, our tolerance for risk is greatly diminished today.
Advocates believe that raw milk is not only tastier but healthier and they want to be able to buy it from farmers they trust to handle animals and products in ways that greatly reduce contamination.
Life doesn’t come with guarantees. Until it does, regulated raw milk sales should be permitted.