Sending Office: Honorable Kurt Schrader
As Veterinarians and co-chairs of the Veterinary Medicine Caucus, we write to bring to your attention the significant public health risks associated with the consumption of raw milk. As such, we urge you to join us in
opposing Massie Amendment #30 to the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2). The amendment is designed to allow the interstate sale of unpasteurized (raw) milk and milk products, removing existing regulations prohibiting their direct
sale. Further, the American Veterinary Medical Association has clearly stated their opposition to the direct sale of unpasteurized (raw) milk and milk products and, in the states where it is allowed, supports the clear labeling of such products to notify consumers
of the health risks.
Consumption of raw milk has demonstrated public health risks. The link between raw milk and foodborne illness has been well-documented in scientific literature, with evidence spanning nearly 100 years. Raw milk is a key vehicle in the transmission of human
pathogens, including E. coli O157:H7, Campylobacter, Listeria monocytogenes,
Tuberculosis, Leptospirosis, Cryptosporidosis, Brucellosis, and Cow Pox.
In 1938, milkborne outbreaks constituted 25 percent of all disease outbreaks due to infected foods and contaminated water. Pasteurization has significantly reduced the number of foodborne illnesses resulting from the consumption of fluid milk and milk products.
The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) most recent information reveals that milk and fluid milk products continue to be associated with less than one percent of such reported outbreaks. In comments provided to Congress just last week, the FDA restated its
longstanding view that raw milk is an unsafe product that carries major public health risks. Moreover, the agency noted that if it were to pass, the amendment “could increase the likelihood of foodborne outbreaks associated with raw milk consumption in the
Based on a 2012 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 1993 and 2006, unpasteurized dairy products resulted in 73 known outbreaks – causing 1,571 cases of foodborne illness, 202 hospitalizations, and two deaths. Most recently,
analyzing data collected between 2009 and 2014, researchers recently concluded that
unpasteurized milk is 840 times more likely to cause foodborne illness than pasteurized milk, and such illnesses have a hospitalization rate 45 times higher than those involving pasteurized dairy products.
Moreover, the CDC has reported that nearly 75 percent of raw milk-associated outbreaks have occurred in states where the sale of raw milk was legal. Eliminating the regulations that currently prohibit the interstate sale of raw milk in the United States
would increase the risk to public health, exposing consumers nationwide to the inevitable consequence of falling victim to a foodborne illness. No matter how carefully it is produced, raw milk is inherently dangerous. Americans have become ill after consuming
raw milk obtained from farms of all sizes, from cow-share programs, and from licensed, permitted, or certified raw milk producers.
Nearly two-thirds of all outbreaks associated with raw milk or raw milk products involve children, who are generally not able to make informed, risk-based decisions on what not to eat or drink. According to the CDC, in 46 percent of the raw milk and raw
milk product outbreaks reported from 2007 through 2016 they involved at least one child younger than five. In these outbreaks, 19 percent of the illnesses caused by salmonella and 15 percent caused by Shiga toxin-producing
E. coli (such as O157) were among children aged 1-4 years. Looking at specific cases, in 2011, five children in California were infected with
E. coli O157:H7 after drinking raw milk; three required hospitalization with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a devastating condition that can lead to permanent kidney failure. At a school event in Wisconsin, also in 2011, sixteen fourth grade students
and adults who drank raw milk donated by a parent later suffered from diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, and vomiting from
Campylobacter infections. It is the responsibility of America’s leaders to make decisions to protect the health of the public, most especially children who are unable to make fully informed choices – choices that can have profound harmful consequences
for the rest of their lives.
To allow the interstate sale of raw milk and milk products is an unnecessary risk to consumer safety and public health. Therefore, we strongly urge you to join us in opposing Massie Amendment #30.
TED S. YOHO, DVM KURT SCHRADER, DVM
Member of Congress Member of Congress
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0