The long-simmering debate between raw-milk consumers and federal officials continues across the country where law-breaking dairy producers share small quantities of unpasteurized milk to local buyers despite a federal law prohibiting its sale in Canada.
Raw-milk drinkers are calling on Ottawa to lift its ban on the sale of raw milk and introduce a new milk category and introduce testing and quality control to help ensure it’s safe to drink.
“What we are drinking isn’t tested. It’s up to the individual buyer to feel confident about the source of their milk and where it comes from,” said Katy Helliwell, whose young family drinks untreated milk from a nearby dairy producer.
At issue is the pasteurization itself, which is essentially the heating of milk in order to kill bacteria and other contaminants such as e coli that Health Canada says can lead to serious diseases like listeria and salmonella.
However, raw milk proponents argue pasteurization kills many vitamins and other nutrients found in raw milk. They also argue contaminant-free milk can be produced by cows that live on well-kept farms where the health and diets of small numbers of animals can be closely monitored.
In Ontario, where the provincial government has its own laws governing the sale of raw milk, and recently laid changes against high-profile raw milk producer Michael Schmidt for selling unpasteurized milk. Over the years, some farmers have established so-called “cow co-operatives” where customers buy shares in a cow, making them technical cow owners. It is not illegal for farmers to consume milk produced by the own cows.