The following letter was published in the Lancaster Farming newspaper on May 4, 2019.
In the United States, based on extrapolated data from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey, it is estimated that about 12 million people drink raw milk regularly. In Europe raw milk is commonly sold by dairy farmers from vending machines.
A previous letter in Lancaster Farming declared that the “Raw Milk Movement Has Great Potential”. At the Raw Milk Institute, we agree but we believe that training really matters.
Fresh unprocessed raw drinking milk is a uniquely different food from both commodity raw milk produced for shipment to the processing plant and milk after it has been pasteurized and homogenized. Fresh unprocessed milk therefore requires a highly specialized production process and an entirely different set of practices.
The Raw Milk Institute was designed to provide such training, and the latest research suggests that our efforts are having a positive impact.
A recent study notes that the frequency of outbreaks associated with unpasteurized milk has declined significantly since 2010. This is remarkable since, during that same period, legal distribution and the number of consumers have both been steadily increasing. This particular study by Whitehead and Lake (Recent Trends in Unpasteurized Fluid Milk Outbreaks, Legalization, and Consumption in the United States) concluded that, “Controlling for growth in population and consumption, the outbreak rate has effectively decreased by 74% since 2005.” The study suggests that the improving food safety record is the result of expanding safety training for raw milk dairy producers.
In 2014, The Raw Milk Institute collaborated with Penn State University and PASA to organize and teach a raw milk producers workshop. More workshops are being planned.
With freedom to sell raw milk comes responsibility. The careful production of raw drinking milk requires dedicated dairy farmers who are proud of their product and do their very best every day to monitor production, milking and processing systems effectively. The Raw Milk Institute is ready to provide consultation and training of responsible raw milk producers across the USA, Europe, and Canada. Contact the Institute for more information.
--Mark McAfee, Sarah Smith, Sylvia Onusic, Peg Coleman, and Joseph Heckman
Raw Milk Institute Board Members