What Your Pets Have To Do With Illegal Raw Milk

Americans eager to sip hard-to-find unpasteurized milk are hiding behind products labeled for animal consumption.

Fluffy is just a front for illegal raw milk consumption.
National Journal
Marina Koren
Add to Briefcase
Marina Koren
April 8, 2014, 11:34 a.m.

The idea of con­sum­ing pet food sure sounds gross, but some Amer­ic­ans are do­ing it.

The pop­ular­ity of raw, un­pas­teur­ized milk is grow­ing, and people are turn­ing to buy­ing it in jars labeled “for pet con­sump­tion only” to cir­cum­vent laws pre­vent­ing its sale and dis­tri­bu­tion to hu­mans. In some states, the leg­al loop­hole is help­ing fuel a bur­geon­ing un­der­ground net­work of raw milk.

“No one is feed­ing this to their pets,” Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky. told The Wash­ing­ton Post last week, after in­tro­du­cing two bills that would free raw milk from Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion over­sight. “They are buy­ing raw milk for them­selves and their fam­il­ies. And they are do­ing it be­cause we have some very stu­pid laws out there.” Massie said he grew up drink­ing un­pas­teur­ized milk, which does not un­der­go a heat­ing pro­cess to kill bac­teria.

Fed­er­al law pro­hib­its the sale of raw milk for hu­mans between states, and half of the coun­try has banned its sale. But there is no fed­er­al ban on the sale of raw milk for pets between U.S. states, nor is there an FDA pre-mar­ket ap­prov­al pro­cess for raw dairy products labeled strictly for pet con­sump­tion.

The sale of raw milk for pets is leg­al in many states, if pro­du­cers meet re­quire­ments for selling com­mer­cial feed. Michigan, New Mex­ico, and Ohio ban its sale “through either writ­ten law or de­part­ment­al policy,” ex­plains a raw-milk cam­paign web­site, owned by the We­st­on A. Price Found­a­tion, the Wash­ing­ton-based non­profit that’s been fuel­ing the raw-milk move­ment. Alaska, Ari­zona, Col­or­ado, Texas, and Wash­ing­ton re­quire the in­clu­sion of a dye in raw milk for pets. Only North Car­o­lina, Geor­gia, and Flor­ida have raw-milk pro­du­cers “who have re­ceived per­mits or are oth­er­wise in com­pli­ance with the law.”

Raw-milk con­sump­tion has been linked to in­fec­tions such as sal­mon­ella and E. coli in hu­mans, as well as kid­ney fail­ure and even para­lys­is. But con­sump­tion has doubled in the past five years.

Pro­ponents say raw milk tastes bet­ter and con­tains be­ne­fi­cial en­zymes and cur­at­ive prop­er­ties that the pas­teur­iz­a­tion pro­cess des­troys. Dur­ing this le­gis­lat­ive ses­sion, The Post‘s Kim­berly Kindy re­cently re­por­ted, 40 bills to leg­al­ize un­pas­teur­ized milk with­in state bor­ders have been in­tro­duced in 23 states. Food safety agen­cies, dairy in­dustry or­gan­iz­a­tions and many health ex­perts op­pose such le­gis­la­tion.

The Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion es­tim­ates that 1 per­cent to 3 per­cent of Amer­ic­ans are drink­ing it. And for some of them, that means buy­ing “pet food.”

Massie’s bills are un­likely to pass, with a le­gis­lat­ive track­ing ser­vice put­ting their chances at 2 per­cent. Wheth­er that’s pas­teur­ized or not, we don’t know.

What We're Following See More »
Michael Flynn Remains A Russian-Sized Problem
1 hours ago

The Michael Flynn story is not going away for the White House as it tries to refocus its attention. The White House has denied requests from the House Oversight Committee for information and documents regarding payments that the former nationals security adviser received from Russian state television station RT and Russian firms. House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz and ranking members Elijah Cummings also said that Flynn failed to report these payments on his security clearance application. White House legislative director Marc Short argued that the documents request are either not in the possession of the White House or contain sensitive information he believes are not applicable to the committee's stated investigation.

Sally Yates to Testify on May 8
2 hours ago
U.S. To Conduct Exercises In Estonia
2 hours ago

The U.S. deployed "F-35 joint strike fighters" to Estonia on Tuesday. The "jets will stay in Estonia for several weeks and will be a part of training flights with U.S. and other NATO air forces." The move comes at a time of high tension between the U.S. and Estonia's neighbor, Russia. The two nations have been at odds over a number of issues recently, most of all being Vladimir Putin's support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in light of Assad's chemical weapons attack on his own people in the midst of a civil war.

Senate OKs Perdue as Agriculture Secretary
4 hours ago

It took long enough, but the Trump administration finally includes an Agriculture secretary. "The Senate easily approved Sonny Perdue on Monday" by a count of 87-11. Perdue enjoyed the support of Democrats like Delaware's Chris Coons and Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin, both of whom spoke in his favor.

State Department Highlights Mar-a-Lago in Advertisement
4 hours ago

"A media arm of the State Department is using federal resources to promote President Donald Trump’s private Florida golf club, fueling scrutiny of the nexus between the president’s official duties and his personal financial interests." On April 4, "Share America, the State Department’s social media-friendly news website, paid homage to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club ... hailing the president’s use of 'the winter White House, as Share America dubbed it, to host world leaders."


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.