Anniversary Sale Anniversary Sale

ADVERTISEMENT

Bill Proposed to Ban Drinking Milk From Hoofed Animals

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

tennessee raw milk bill

Story at-a-glance -

  • Senate Bill 15 (SB15) suggests amending a Tennessee code relating to milk products to make it illegal for a partial owner of a hoofed animal to drink the milk from said animal
  • The bill is aimed at snuffing out herdshare programs, which are formed between farmers and individuals that entitle you to the benefits of owning a "share" of a cow, such as a certain amount of milk each week
  • SB15 would not only make it illegal for herdshare owners to obtain raw milk, but it would also become against the law for the farmer running a herdshare to drink milk from their own cow (or other hoofed mammal)
  • Briggs reportedly introduced SB15 to close the herdsharing “loophole” after 10 children in the state were sickened by E. coli that was blamed on drinking raw milk, but no E. coli was found when the raw milk was tested
  • You have the right to choose what to eat, regardless of the government’s opinion on what’s healthy or what’s not; once a healthy food like raw milk is outlawed, it’s s slippery slope to what other foods may next be deemed too “dangerous” for the public

Who should decide what type of milk you’re allowed to drink or serve to your children? Introduced in Tennessee by Sen. Richard Briggs, Senate Bill 15 (SB15) suggests amending a Tennessee code relating to milk products to make it illegal for a partial owner of a hoofed animal to drink the milk from said animal.1

While graciously allowing a person who is the sole owner of a hoofed mammal to drink the milk personally, the bill is aimed at snuffing out herdshare programs. Congress has never banned raw milk outright, but it’s banned in interstate commerce, which means small farmers can’t transport it across state lines.

Private agreements called herdshares are often formed between farmers and individuals as a result, which entitle you to the benefits of owning a "share" of a cow, such as a certain amount of milk each week.

However, SB15 would not only make it illegal for herdshare owners to obtain raw milk, but it would also become against the law for the farmer running a herdshare to drink milk from their own cow (or other hoofed mammal), as they would not be considered a “sole owner.”

“[W]hether you own a three-quarter, one-half, one-quarter or 1/100 interest in a cow, it doesn’t matter; it would be illegal to get milk from your cow,” the Weston A. Price Foundation explained.

“Even if you board the cow on your own property, it’s illegal to drink milk from the cow unless you are a 100 percent owner; in other words, herdshare farmers can’t drink milk from cows or other dairy animals on their property unless they own animals outside of the herdshare agreement.”2

‘It’s a Liberty Issue’

SB15 is posed as a bill to protect the public welfare, but raw milk is a nutritious and safe food when it comes from cows raised on pasture.

Many other foods cause more illnesses and deaths but are not subject to the same scrutiny as raw milk. Suzanne Thomspon, a dairy farmer in Madisonville, Tennessee, told WTOL News, "I think it's a liberty issue. If people want to drink raw milk from their cow, then that's what they should be able to do."3

Thomspon stands to lose her farm, which is her livelihood that she planned to pass down to her daughter, if the bill passes. And she pointed out the irony in targeting raw milk when other foods are the subject of regular illness outbreaks. "There was a huge romaine lettuce recall in 2018,” she said. “No one is suggesting we pasteurize lettuce.”4

Briggs reportedly introduced SB15 to close the herdsharing “loophole” after 10 children in the state were sickened by E. coli that was blamed on drinking raw milk from a Knoxville shareholder dairy. But according to Weston A. Price, “No E. coli was found in any of the dairy’s milk that public health officials tested.”

“This was the second foodborne illness outbreak blamed on raw milk consumption in the nearly 10 years that herd share agreements have been legal in Tennessee,” they continued. “If two outbreaks in 10 years are enough to ban a food then many other foods would be illegal to obtain as well.”5

The Two Kinds of Raw Milk in the US (Only One Fit for Drinking)

There was a period of time, from 1860 to the 1920s, when raw milk went through what Mark McAfee, founder and chairman of the Raw Milk Institute (RAWMI), describes as a “dark age.”

The cow diets, combined with unsanitary conditions, raw sewage mixed with water and lack of refrigeration, led to the spread of diseases like tuberculosis and typhoid. A lot of people died from raw milk that came from these unsanitary distillery dairies raising malnourished cows.

The same could be said today should anyone choose to drink raw milk from cows raised on concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Most commercial dairy comes from CAFOs, and it is not suitable for raw consumption. In fact, although this type of milk is regulated according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO), it has no requirement that the milk be tested for pathogens.

It can legally contain high levels of bacteria because it’s intended to be shipped off for pasteurization. Milk produced under the PMO is collected from many dairies and combined together at the creamery for processing and the production of final processed dairy products,” RAWMI notes.6 It has to be pasteurized, as drinking this type of CAFO milk raw could easily make you sick.

The other raw milk is that produced with the intent of being directly consumed by humans, without pasteurization. While there are no national regulations for human consumption of raw milk, individual states may have their own. RAWMI has also created standards to ensure its quality and safety, which include:7

Have a Risk Analysis and Management Plan (RAMP) for raw milk production; this is a basic food safety plan that includes risk assessment and mitigation for milk handling, manure management, feed sources, human factors (such as health of the milking team), nutritional management of the cow, cleaning protocol, health screening of animals and much more.

Raw milk shall not contain zoonotic pathogens including salmonella, E. coli, campylobacter and listeria.

Testing for coliform bacteria, with a target rate of less than 10 coliforms per milliliter (ml) raw milk over a three-month average

Testing for Standard Plate Count, with a rolling three-month average of less than 5,000 per ml raw milk.

Sell raw milk for direct human consumption only from their own farm (not comingled with raw milk from other dairies)

Provide documentation and assurance that herds are tuberculosis (TB) free and tested once per year or meet local TB requirements.

Provide documentation or assurance that herds are brucellosis free.

Are There Health Benefits of Raw Milk?

You may be surprised to learn that in Europe, raw milk vending machines are not unusual. Self-service machines may be found at farmers markets and small farms as well as in shopping centers and near schools and playgrounds in England, Austria, Czech Republic, Greece, France, Ireland, Germany and several other countries.8

Many people seek out this milk not only for its taste and creaminess, but also for its health benefits. Children who drink raw milk have a lower risk of developing allergies and asthma, for instance.9 And early human studies suggested raw milk was superior to pasteurized milk in protecting against infection, diarrhea, rickets, tooth decay and tuberculosis.10

Raw milk also contains protective components that aren’t found in pasteurized milk, including antibodies and beneficial bacteria that help kill pathogens in the milk, as well as compounds that prevent pathogen absorption across the intestinal wall. There are a variety of immune-strengthening components in raw milk as well, including lymphocytes, immunoglobulins and growth factors.11

There’s also alkaline phosphatase, an enzyme found in raw milk, that’s known to be anti-inflammatory, along with fat-soluble vitamins, including A, D and K2, vitamin E and beta-carotene and the healthy fats omega-3 and cancer-fighting conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Other vitamins in raw milk include B1, 2, 6 and 12, folic acid, C and niacin.12,13

Raw milk is also free from thickening agents that are found in many low-fat dairy products and is not subjected to homogenization, which pasteurized milk goes through to break down fat particles, oxidizing them in the process.

While raw milk is noninflammatory and inhibits MAST cell release of histamines, pasteurized milk is the most allergenic food in the U.S., McAfee notes. He also points out that pasteurized milk is often associated with lactose intolerance and is often not digestible by children, whereas raw milk is highly digestible and gut friendly.

Which Foods Cause the Most Illness Outbreaks?

According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics, of all the foodborne outbreaks between 2009 and 2015, chicken was responsible for the most, followed by pork and seeded vegetables.14 Further, at least one multistate E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce may have been caused by runoff from a nearby CAFO into a canal; water from the canal was used to irrigate the lettuce.15

From ice cream to romaine lettuce, many foods have caused widespread illness in the U.S., but none have been banned or targeted for restrictive legislation as a result. So why is raw milk being singled out?

“There have been numerous and deadly foodborne illness outbreaks in the past few years involving ice cream, cantaloupe, and romaine lettuce, and there have been no calls to ban any of those foods,” the Weston A. Price Foundation noted. “Raw milk should be no different. There shouldn’t be any double standard. Raw milk has a good overall track record for safety.”16

An analysis by Dr. Ted Beals, a retired physician and board certified pathologist, who once served on the faculty of University of Michigan Medical School, shows that most raw milk may be associated with an average of 42 illnesses a year out of the more than 9 million people who choose to consume it.

“Using this average of 42 illnesses per year, we can show, using government figures, that you are about 35,000 times more likely to become ill from other foods than you are from raw milk,” Beals says.17

You Have a Right to Food Freedom

Ultimately, whether you drink milk or not, and whether it’s raw or pasteurized, it’s a personal choice — and it should remain that way. You have the right to choose what to eat, regardless of the government’s opinion on what’s healthy or what’s not.

Once a healthy food like raw milk is outlawed, it’s s slippery slope of what other foods may next be deemed too “dangerous” for the public. Sustainable agriculture pioneer and farmer Joel Salatin shared his thoughts on the absurdity of making it illegal to drink milk from your own cow:18

“Safety is highly subjective. I don’t think it’s safe to drink three cans of Coca-Cola a day, but that’s legal. I don’t think it’s safe to eat veggie burgers, but people do. If we’re going to pick and choose everything that could be unsafe and outlaw it, we might as well all go live in a bubble room and put on respirators. We pick and choose risks. Some eat at McDonald’s; others don’t.

Some take the flu vaccine; others don’t. The critical thing to understand is that if the government is responsible for my health, then it necessarily has a fiduciary responsibility to penetrate every health-impactful decision I make in order to protect itself from economic liability.

It comes down to who owns the person. As long as the state owns the person, which is where America is right now, nothing is beyond the regulatory purview of the police, the ultimate enforcer of the laws.

As the state micromanages our lives, the need for more police to enforce those regulations increases. The more police, the less freedom. Any society needing more police per capita is a society heading toward tyranny.”

If you want to get involved, the Weston A. Price Foundation has compiled the following action plan to voice your opinion about SB15 — and the fight to keep food freedom intact.19

  1. Email the members of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee asking them not to hold a hearing on SB15 and asking that they vote against the bill if a hearing is held.
  2. Call and/or email Sen. Briggs and ask him to withdraw SB15.
  3. Call and/or email Rep. Patsy Hazelwood, the sponsor of the companion bill banning herdshares in the Tennessee General Assembly and tell her to withdraw the herdshare bill.