AP reports that the Food and Drug Administration claims that raw milk is dangerous, possibly carrying deadly pathogens such as campolybacter, salmonella and E. coli.
The Department of Agriculture says that dairies must be licensed and regulated to ensure the safety of the milk and milk products that are produced for human consumption.
Selling raw milk for human consumption is legal in 28 states, according to the Weston A. Price Foundation, a Washington, D.C., raw milk advocacy group. Five states allow raw milk for animal consumption, a loophole that raw milk fans exploit.
In Washington state, raw milk sales are legal if the farm is licensed through the state. Licensing requires monthly testing of the milk, and inspection of the farm and milk bottling room. Each bottle of raw milk must also contain a warning label. Currently only six dairies in the state are licensed to sell Grade A raw milk.
In other states, and at dairies that aren’t licensed, “cow-share” programs exist quietly to provide raw milk to fans of the product. In a “cow-share,” people buy part-ownership in a cow – they claim that the milk is free, because they own the cow. Because the milk is not bought and sold, the dairies that keep the cows are exempt from licensing requirements.
The Department of Agriculture has been sending cease-and-desist letters to raw microdairies that aren’t licensed, sparking a small battle over whether the state has a right to regulate what many consider a private operation.