Got raw milk? NC lawmakers say you might soon

Posted April 27, 2015

North Carolina residents might soon be able to buy part ownership of a cow – or an entire herd – to get access to raw milk for themselves and their families.

— North Carolina residents might soon be able to buy part ownership of a cow – or an entire herd – to get access to raw milk for themselves and their families.

House Bill 309, which passed the House Health Committee on Monday afternoon, would allow so-called "cow shares" in the state, which was legal until 2004, said sponsor Rep. Dennis Riddell, R-Alamance. Part-owners would then be able to get around state regulations that prohibit the sale of unpasteurized milk, he said.

The end run around the raw milk ban is the point of the bill, said Riddell, who derided the concept and current efforts by people to evade it.

"Natural milk is a healthy, natural food commodity that has been around for millennia, and it is safe, when handled properly, to consume," he said.

State law allows the purchase of raw milk to feed animals, and Riddell said many people buy it under the guise of pet food so they can drink it themselves.

"There's just not that many Fluffies and Fidos out there consuming raw milk," he said.

Thirty states already allow the consumption of raw milk, he said, noting that South Carolina allows it to be sold in stores.

Joe Reardon, assistant commissioner of the Consumer Protection Division of the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, warned about the potential of disease outbreaks if raw milk is made more accessible. He cited five North Carolina women who miscarried in 2000 after contracting listeriosis from unpasteurized milk and an E.coli outbreak two years ago in Tennessee, which allows cow shares.

Bill supporter Ruth Ann Foster of Greensboro said disease outbreaks are often wrongly attributed to milk, noting the listeriosis cases in 2000 occurred at a time of a nationwide recall of contaminated hotdogs that might have sickened the women.

"Pasteurization is no guarantee," Foster said.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cataloged only 1,360 cases of illness linked to raw milk from 1998 to 2009, a period in which about 9 million annually were drinking it, Riddell said.

"Why is natural milk the only illegal food in North Carolina?" he asked.

Despite some lawmakers' concerns over legal liability if someone who could legally drink raw milk serves it to someone else who becomes sick, the committee passed the bill on a voice vote. It still must clear the House Agriculture Committee before going before the full House.


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  • Robert Fotch Jr Apr 28, 2015
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    Just what we need, the people who work for us, telling us what we can and cannot do again. It should be illegal to drink cool aid, if you know what I mean. Unbelievable!

  • Clarence Hill Apr 28, 2015
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    To safety checks: 1) Vets have simple/reasonable blood test to make sure the cow is "Bangs free". Even as far back as 60 years ago--my dad always had our family milk cow tested. When I drink goat's--I first have her tested, first. 2) you can pasteurize milk by heating and stirring it to 160 degrees for 10 seconds--chill as fast as possible and serve.

  • Christopher Rose Apr 28, 2015
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    Why would anybody in their right mind do this? The level of anti science hysteria from both the far left and far right these days is undoing years of progress. I guess we are devolving. They pasteurized it years ago for a REASON!

  • Lisa Marie Fields Apr 28, 2015
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    This took too long...I hope it passes too.

  • Lisa Bagwell Apr 28, 2015
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    I've been waiting for this for a long time as well. Used to get raw milk from a dairy farm as a kid. Loved it and haven't had any in a long time. Looked into a Co-Op and it was going to be like $40 for a gallon coming from out of state due to all the fees (shipping, cold storage and the cost of the milk). I hope that if this passes, it won't be as high.

  • Wayne Boyd Apr 27, 2015
    user avatar

    I've been waiting for this a loooonnnnng time.