Raw milk: safe or sorry?

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(Frankfurt, WV) Raw milk is trending. Even the West Virginia Senate passed a resolution about it. But what does a dairy farmer say?

You may not have known the milk you buy in the grocery store is cooked but it is. The process is called pasteurization. Lauren Perkins a fourth generation dairy farmer who works on her family’s dairy farm called Perk Farm Organic Dairy explained the process saying “[The milk is] heated to a temperature that can kill harmful bacteria.”

But raw or unpasteurized milk is trending. Senator Dave Sypolt (R- Preston) is the chair of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Committee. He said, “There’s been a motion or a movement in the state for the past five to seven years in order to legalize the sale of raw milk.”

Right now herd sharing is allowed in West Virginia, but the sale of raw milk is illegal. Dairy farmers say raw milk can contain harmful bacteria like e coli, salmonella, listeria.

A study by the CDC linked raw milk to food borne disease outbreaks and even death. Supporters of raw milk say pasteurization destroys nutrients in milk, but the bad reputation of raw milk could be too much for the dairy industry to handle. Perkins explained saying, “Granted raw milk does have health qualities. But it’s really hard right now in this economy because farmers are not getting much for their milk. So they can’t afford the insurance to be able to sell you the raw milk.”
Then, of course, there’s the issue of freedom of eat. Senator Sypolt said, “My position has been for quite a while that as long as a product is properly labeled and a person knows what they’re buying and proper sanitation protocol are followed then purchase of raw milk should not be illegal.”

One twist? Perkins says she does drink raw milk, but she says it’s not for everyone. She explained saying, “The milk I’m drinking, I’m able to digest because of my immune system from being here on the farm.” She added that she is happy about the Senate resolution because more information is always good.

For now sales of raw milk are still illegal but with the senate’s resolution to review the dairy laws surrounding raw milk, this time next year raw milk in West Virginia could have an utterly different story.

According to the CDC, 11 states currently allow the sale of raw milk in retail stores.

Haley Brown

Haley Brown

Multimedia Journalist

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