Pouring milk in the glass on the background of nature.

Jared Meyer and Tom Pacer compare government attitudes towards raw milk to another raw product common in the U.S. market: sushi (raw fish).

by Jared Meyer, Tom Pacer
Economic Policies for the 21st Century


Government bans on the sale and distribution of raw milk and raw milk products are enforced in the name of public safety. But many people enjoy the health benefits of milk that has not been pasteurized, and some farms want sell it. Are the health threats from raw milk significant enough to warrant a ban on its sale? Government data and the lack of regulation of other raw foods suggest that they are not.

The FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are determined to educate the public on the perceived dangers of raw milk, but their data suggest that raw milk is not as dangerous as their slanted language implies.


Even if the CDC and FDA were correct in stigmatizing raw milk for its potential dangers, the market is already able to protect the public against another food that is often seen as potentially risky—raw fish. Currently, the federal government has no regulations concerning which fish can receive the designation of “sushi grade,” meaning it is expected to be consumed raw. In other words, a gas station vendor could buy low-grade fish from the nearest waterfront and label it “sushi grade.” But people would be hesitant to purchase raw fish from a gas station that they did not trust. Further, a business will not stay open for long if it disappoints its customers, much less if it makes them seriously ill by selling tainted food.

Without being told by the government to do so, stores tend to reserve the best quality, cleanest fish for the label “sushi grade.” These sales operate without regulation and without sacrificing public health. Companies selling raw milk likewise regulate their own products in a manner that protects the health of their consumers. Ten states allow retail sales of all types of raw milk, and more allow on-farm sales. Despite warnings from the FDA, there is no massive public health crisis in the states that allow consumption of raw milk, compared to those that do not.

Weighing the benefits of raw milk, and other food products such as lettuce and shellfish, against risks is an individual choice that the government should stay out of. For some, drinking raw milk may not make sense. For others, the flavor and the health benefits might outweigh the associated risks, especially when purchasing raw milk from a trusted source—whether that be a family friend, a local farmers market, or a reputable retail store. Instead of creating and enforcing regulations which ban products when there are not substantial threats to the public, government agencies should leave people and the food that they choose to consume alone.

Read the full article here.


The Raw Milk Revolution
Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food Rights
by David E. Gumpert

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