UPDATED MARCH 31, 7:50AM: “Now grab a big cup of coffee or raw milk or Pepsi or whatever YOU as an American choose to drink and settle in for some very disturbing raw milk updates. If you follow me on Facebook this post is both a recap of the events of the last 3 days as well as essential action steps needed RIGHT NOW.
When I last posted just 4 days ago I informed you of IDPH’s back handed work with the proposed rules and regulations now making their way through that department. Less than 24 hours after that post I was informed by a Springfield contact, that House Representative Daniel Burke was sponsoring HB 4036 Amendment # 1 that would make all sales of raw milk in Illinois illegal.
This flies in opposition of what our own Molly Lamb of the Illinois Department of Public Health promised us, the members of the Dairy Work Group, which was that they never intended to make raw milk illegal, they just wanted to make it “safe.” I’ll come back to that point soon.
This House Bill 4036 (Listed under The Restroom Access Act, how sneaky is that?) was scheduled to go to the Human Services Committee of The Illinois General Assembly Wednesday am March 26 at 0800. Representative Burke and the co-sponsor of that bill, Representative Mary E. Flowers chose to alter this act which previously stated this:
After the effective date of this Act, no person shall sell or distribute, offer to sell or distribute any milk or milk product for human use or consumption unless such milk or milk product has been pasteurized and has been produced and processed in accordance with rules and regulations promulgated by the Department.
The term “sell or distribute for use or consumption” means to sell or distribute to a person for human use or consumption and not for processing or resale in any form.
The pasteurization requirement of this Section shall not be applicable to milk produced in accordance with Department rules and regulations if sold or distributed on the premises of the dairy farm.
Now look at that last paragraph. This is how raw milk dairies have been allowed to sell raw milk in Illinois. Let me point out the phrase “milk produced in accordance with Department rules and regulations”. Please remember the department they are referring to is the Illinois Department of Public Health who to this day does not yet have any rules related to raw milk production, they only have unenforceable policy, which is why they are fighting tooth and nail to get those rules passed that we objected to. (See my post on Monday) …”
“As promised yesterday a summary of my conversation with Chrissy Carlson , Executive Director of Northern Illinois Public Health Consortium, Inc. Chicago. Ms. Carlson returned my call late yesterday afternoon, was very polite and I feel spent a good amount of time hearing my concerns. I was in fact very happy about this return call since between my husband and I we had contacted 8 separate public health departments in our state and had been told repeatedly that THEY had been told to tell us they had “No Comment.”
Was it just us or did others of you get similar responses if you called any of the public health offices in Illinois?
You might recall from yesterdays post Northern Illinois Public Health Consortium Inc serves 9 counties and 2 large cities in Northern Illinois, and it is was this organization who supplied the fact sheet in support of HB 4036 HA1 to Representative Daniel Burke the sponsor of the bill that went through the General Assembly Committee hearings on March 26.
The Fact Sheet contained 12 bullet points and just 8 references. Of the 8 references, the CDC was listed 4 times. I’m going to share the highlights of our chat.
Me: I’m very concerned about this fact sheet since so much of the data is oversimplified and not specific in anyway to Illinois. Where did this fact sheet originate?
Ms. Carlson: “One of our MD members completed the fact sheet.”
Me: Can you tell me why you are concerned about the incidence of raw milk illness, have you had any raw milk related illnesses reported in the area you serve?
Ms. Carlson: “I’m not sure because it’s not a reportable disease.”
Me: So you are not aware of any raw milk related illnesses in the 9 county area you serve?
Ms. Carlson: “No, I am not.”
Me: Are you aware of the number of raw milk drinkers in the area you serve?
Ms. Carlson: “No.”
Me: You might be interested in knowing that on our small 11 cow dairy farm we sell raw milk to over 100 customers each month, on average over 400 gallons and in the 20 years we have been doing so we have not yet received one complaint of illness via a public health lodged complaint or direct from a consumer. We understand that raw milk illnesses can occur but statistically speaking when compared to the very huge number of folks who are consuming raw milk the risk in my opinion, is minuscule.
Me: Please help me understand, if you are not seeing any raw milk related illnesses in your area can you tell me about food borne illnesses that are being reported? Perhaps the 3 major food borne related illnesses that have been reported this last year?
Ms. Carlson: “No, I’m sorry I don’t know that.”
Me: Then please help me understand why you feel raw milk should be made illegal in Illinois in light of the fact that you are not seeing any increased reports, or indeed any reports of raw milk related illnesses.
Ms. Carlson: “We rely on the CDC (Center for Disease Control) for all our facts. The CDC is the most credible source of information not a single dairy farmer.”…”