An outbreak of E. coli linked to raw milk from an unlicensed dairy in Woodland in December prompted the measure. Some 18 people in Washington and Oregon become ill, some critically.
And now, the Washington Senate has concurred with the House on a bill that will give state inspectors authority to confiscate raw milk from unlicensed dairies. The bill will then be signed by Governor Chris Gregoire.
Besides stiffening penalties for breaking milk-safety rules and giving state inspectors more authority to halt unlicensed operations, Senate Bill 6377 will require the Agriculture Department to study how the smallest dairies can satisfy health standards.
Raw milk advocate Chrys Ostrander tells the Washington Daily News that although the availability of raw milk may decrease as unlicensed dairies stop distributing the product because of the threat of jail time, he thinks that in time it will rebound as more microdairies obtain a license.