Raw milk’s popularity spurs debate over safety, health

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A week after The Daily Caller’s Mike Riggs reported on an FDA raid at a Pennsylvania farm producing raw milk, a more civil debate has continued across the country.

In Colorado, by using a loophole in a 2005 law, farms in that state have offered begun sharing their raw milk products — literally and figuratively. Now there are more than 60 farms in the state that get around the rules by privately selling shares of their actual cow herds to risk-taking, lactose-tolerate enthusiasts, who pay to board the heifers. And there are about 30 states that are currently permitting similar direct-to-drinking experiments.

As the Denver Post describes it:

Every afternoon, customers who own a portion of the [Lafferty’s] dairy herd visit the 30-acre farm, pulling jars of the farm-fresh, raw milk from a small refrigerator in a spotless room next to the milking parlor.

The Laffertys, who have run a raw-milk cow share for the past year on their family’s longtime farm, say they build relationships with customers — customers they want to keep safe and healthy.

Raw milk boasts higher fat content than traditional whole milk. That gives it a creamy taste that raw milkers champion. Yet most of the 18 families who own 35 shares of the Laffertys’ cows drink raw milk for its health benefits,

The family farms that have been producing raw milk and raw products say their biggest worry isn’t food borne illnesses and bacteria — it’s the FDA, the “the real villain in the story.”

“I have more faith in Meg, my farmer, than FDA officials who are being lobbied by industrial food lobbyists,” says Michael O’Brien, whose Fort Collins family gets its milk directly from a Windsor dairy.

In the late 1930s, a quarter of all food illnesses stemmed from milk, but with pasteurization, milk has all but disappeared from the Food and Drug Administration’s annual list of food-caused ailments.

But the Centers for Disease Control says raw milk accounts for 70 percent of all milk-related illnesses with 85 percent of bacterial outbreaks between 1998 and 2008, according to the FDA.

Proponents of raw milk dismiss the notion that their product is a serious public health issue, instead touting anecdotal evidence of the drink’s benefits. Farmers are also appealing to basic human insticts –raw milk is really tasty.

Conventional milk, they say – made in dirty, crowded farms – is meant to be pasteurized. But local raw milk farmers say, defiantly, “We design milk for drinking.”

Full story: Raw milk’s popularity spurs debate over safety, health – The Denver Post