Sale of raw milk bill rejected

(Arkansas News Bureau, AR)

By Rob Moritz

A Senate committee on Wednesday rejected a proposal that would allow the sale of unpasteurized milk.


Rep. Mark Martin, R-Prairie Grove, said after the vote that he planned to bring House Bill 1114 back before the Senate Committee on Public Health and Welfare later in the session.


“I think what we have is an opportunity to actually protect the health of the people and to grant the rights of the people,” Martin said after the vote.


During the meeting, Martin said many people drink raw milk because they believe it’s healthier than pasteurized milk. He said pasteurizing milk destroys many of the nutritional elements in the milk.


Percy Ambrose, a Searcy nutritionist, spoke of the health benefits of raw milk, and said the state already allows the sale of raw goat’s milk. He also said the sale of cheese made out of raw milk also is legal in Arkansas.


Calvin Bay of Fayetteville, a retired scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said 27 states currently allow the sale of raw milk, including most of the states surrounding Arkansas.


But dairy farmer Ryan Anglin of Bentonville said he was concerned about how bacteria, which is killed during the pasteurization process, might be consumed by humans.


Dr. Joe Bates, deputy state health officer with the state Department of Health, said approving the bill could put the state’s ability to make sure food is safe at risk. Raw milk can contain a number of pathogens, including Salmonella, he said.


He said the department currently has just enough personnel to oversee the dairy industry, and that allowing the sale of unpasteurized milk would be difficult to regulate and costly. 2-04-09





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