The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration regulate U.S. milk production, and their milk guidelines are some of the strictest in the industrialized world.
More than 91,000 Virginia cows produced 208 million gallons of milk in 2015. Dairy farms where that milk was produced are routinely inspected by regulatory agencies to ensure compliance with the FDA’s Pasteurized Milk Ordinance. The ordinance maintains milk quality and safety standards for human consumption and covers product safety, milk transportation, sanitation, equipment and labeling.
“All milk intended for human consumption should be pasteurized—it’s a matter of food safety. Pasteurization is a simple, effective method to kill harmful pathogens without affecting the taste or nutritional value of milk,” noted registered dietitian Tracy Noerper on the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association’s website.
According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, dairy foods were responsible for 9 percent of foodborne illness outbreaks reported in 2014. At least 83 percent of those dairy outbreaks involved unpasteurized dairy products, including raw milk.
“As raw milk gains popularity and becomes more readily available, there is an increase in associated foodborne disease outbreaks and illnesses,” said Tony Banks, a commodity marketing specialist for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “Unpasteurized dairy products were identified as being responsible for 15 out of 19 dairy-related foodborne disease outbreaks reported in the U.S. in 2014. That disease rate is even more alarming when you consider that only 3 percent of U.S. consumers surveyed consume unpasteurized dairy products.”
SUDIA, whose mission is to provide the public with accurate information about dairy foods from farm to fridge, does not promote the consumption of raw milk and other unpasteurized milk products.
“Bottom line, always choose pasteurized milk for a safe, nutritious and wholesome product that the whole family can enjoy,” Noerper said.