Ron Paul Wants to Make the Sale of Raw Milk Legal

  • Published on March 9th, 2009

Ron Paul wants interstate commerce legal for raw milkDo you drink raw milk?  Unless you milk your own cow, the answer is probably no since the sale of raw milk is illegal in about half of the United States.

Consumption of raw milk is legal in all 50 states, but current federal regulation prohibits interstate commerce of raw milk and raw milk products for human consumption.

Ron Paul would like to change that law.

U.S. Congressman Ron Paul has introduced H.R. 778 which would “authorize the interstate traffic of unpasteurized milk and milk products that are packaged for direct human consumption.”  According to the Organic Consumers Association:

The bill would not force a state to legalize the sale of raw milk from local producers, nor would it force a state to allow the sale of raw milk from out-of-state producers in its retail stores. The bill would, however, enable consumers to enter into transactions to obtain raw milk and raw milk products from other states without the transactions being in violation of federal law.

The current regulation banning raw milk sales 21 CFR 1240.61 states:

…no person shall cause to be delivered into interstate commerce or shall sell, otherwise distribute, or hold for sale or other distribution after shipment in interstate commerce any milk or milk product in final package form for direct human consumption unless the product has been pasteurized….

The only legal milk to be sold across state lines is pasteurized. Pasteurization kills disease causing germs and prevents souring by keeping milk at a temperature of 145 degrees F for at least half an hour, then reducing the temperature to no more than 55 degrees F.  According to “Raw Milk Vs. Pasteurized Milk” published in a British Medical Journal in 1938:

It is undoubtedly beneficial to destroy dangerous germs, but pasteurization does more than this-it kills off harmless and useful germs alike, and by subjecting the milk to high temperatures, destroys some nutritious constituents…But, after pasteurization, the lactic acid bacilli are killed. The milk, in consequence, cannot become sour and quickly decomposes, while undesirable germs multiply very quickly… Besides destroying part of the vitamin C contained in raw milk and encouraging growth of harmful bacteria, pasteurization turns the sugar of milk, known as lactose, into beta-lactose — which is far more soluble and therefore more rapidly absorbed in the system, with the result that the child soon becomes hungry again.

Probably pasteurization’s worst offence is that it makes insoluable the major part of the calcium contained in raw milk. This frequently leads to rickets, bad teeth, and nervous troubles, for sufficient calcium content is vital to children; and with the loss of phosphorus also associated with calcium, bone and breain formation suffer serious setbacks.

Pasteurization also destroys 20 percent of the iodine present in raw milk, causes constipation and generally takes from the milk its most vital qualities.

Of course, there are critics that suggest raw milk is not beneficial and milk borne illnesses are on the rise. Ron Paul’s response:

My office has heard from numerous people who would like to obtain unpasteurized milk. Many of these people have done their own research and come to the conclusion that unpasteurized milk is healthier than pasteurized milk.

Americans have the right to consume these products without having the Federal Government second-guess their judgment about what products best promote health. If there are legitimate concerns about the safety of unpasteurized milk, those concerns should be addressed at the state and local level.

H.R. 778 has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.  You can read the full text of the legislation that would allow the interstate commerce of raw milk.   Personally, I would not want to buy raw dairy products from an out of state farmer because of transportation costs and concerns about freshness.  Whether you believe raw milk is healthier or not, at the heart of the issue is US constitutional law that allows Congress to regulate interstate traffic (Art. I, section 8, Clause 1), but such commerce should not be impeded. Do we really need to regulate the sale of raw milk across state borders when consumers can seek it out locally?

Image: striatic on Flickr under a Creative Commons License

About the Author

Jennifer lives on 160 acres off-the-grid in a home built with her own two hands (and several more skilled pairs of hands) from forest fire salvaged timber. Her home is powered by a micro-hydro turbine, and she has been a vegetarian for 21 years. Jennifer graduated from Humboldt State University with a degree in art education and has been teaching art to children for over 16 years. She also spent five years teaching in a one-room schoolhouse before becoming the mother of two beautiful children. Jennifer has a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education and is currently teaching preschool, as well as k-8 art. She enjoys writing, gardening, hiking, practicing yoga, and raising four akitas. Jennifer is the founder and editor of Eco Child's Play ( "I’ve always been concerned about the earth and our impact upon it. Now that I have children, I feel compelled to raise them with green values. From organic gardening to alternative energy, my family tries to leave a small carbon footprint." Please visit my other blog:
  • So nice of Ron Paul to proudly stand up for salmonella, E. coli O157, Listeria monocytogenes, Brucella, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and all of the free market pathogens who have been crippled by big government.

  • I am a food scientist, not a job that you have probably ever heard of, but it is a good and very intriguing one. Most of the US has a very misled view of the food industry and the governments rule in it. It is articles like this that cause such problems. Anyone with sufficient knowledge of the dairy industry would advise against drinking raw milk. This is just me personally, but I would start smoking (which I find disgusting) before I would ever start drinking raw milk. There is no real reason to use it over pasteurized milk, unless you’re trying to make something with it, such as a yogurt. This article makes it seem like pasteurizing milk destroys it, and though it does do each of the things stated, it does not affect the chemical composition as much as the author insinuates. It will by no means lead to the physical problems that the author states. Any person or child with these problems would face the same problems even if they drank raw milk. They have them because they simply don’t drink enough.

    • John, anyone can claim to be anyone on the web. Here’s some real info, not baseless claims on why raw milk is fantastic. Sure, raw milk from big dairy is practically poison.. it shouldn’t even be drunk pasteurized. It’s full of puss and antibiotics.. Real raw milk, from pasture raised, healthy cows is probably something you’ve never come in contact with in your career. Too bad, you missed out.

      Here’s the info:

      and here are the lab tests:

      Anyone who says Raw milk = E. coli are full of E. coli themselves. Raw milk from healthy pastured cows doesn’t have it.

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  • pete haak

    If all they did was just heat the milk pasturise,that would be not bad what about all they put in with out any people being aware.I have heard from a farm source that plaster is added to make it more white looking and sticky.Raw milk from the cow is not very white, it is blueish and all those real nutrition is alredy gone in the first heating. I think every drop of every bit of product should be listed as we would not buy it if it had plaster on the label.

  • smodo

    We live in GA, where raw milk is an illegal substance, on the border of SC, where raw milk is available in retail outlets as well as farms and markets. It is less than 15 minutes for us to drive to SC and purchase it, so I consider that local. But I am violating laws if I bring it back home to Georgia! Ridiculous!

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  • Lori Dunn

    I cured myself from arthritis and a bone disease by drinking raw milk. I have been drinking it for five years and I never get sick. I wish people knew the facts about the importance of raw fat in our dairy products. I applaud Ron Paul for his efforts. If we are truly going to change our health care system we have to change our food supply.

  • Dina

    In reference to the dairy farm worker (Chris). If the large dairies can not maintain a clean environment then they should pasteurize their milk. As well as meat sold commercially should be FDA approved. For us small farmers who keep everything clean with very little human contact, raw milk is the healthiest alternative and we want to share that with the public. Let us sell our milk. I also butcher my own animals. I do not need the FDA to tell me it is safe. I know where the animals have lived and they are in better conditions that most people. I don't sell my meet, but everyone wants it. We have to understand that there needs to be different regulations when it comes to mass produced food traveling long distances and good, clean, fresh local food. The small farmer can not afford regulation and the public deserves fresh unprocessed food.

  • MJ

    Greg, go for it! Hooray!!

    Large scale dairies are interested in mass production so the population can drink white water with minimal nutritional benefits. And yes, they are E. coli infested and I would not drink raw milk from one of those places. The farm in which I own a share is run by a family of 4 and has a small herd and is very clean. This is their way of life.

    The law and its enforcement is absurd. I drive 50 miles each way for my milk because I cross a state line. Fellow raw-milk drinkers and I thought about a milk-run co-op but due to such regulations and the current state of affairs in the US I didn't want to be arrested for illegal transportation…so I'll keep driving my Suburban an extra 200 miles a month for one family's milk consumption. Now that's efficient! However, if I transported raw milk for 10 local families I'd surely be a criminal.

  • Greg

    I'm a dairy farmer in Wisconsin. I'm planning to start a cow lease-board program in order to supply people with technically legal raw milk.

    What I find interesting is enforcement of law. My brother was a cop for a number of years. He told me they would seldom do anything to people who were caught with small amounts of marijuana, just confiscate it and flush it down the toilet. He said it was simply impossible to punish people for such widespread use. I think I'm more likely to be prosecuted for selling a gallon of raw milk, than if I was selling a joint. Which is more dangerous?

  • how the heck are you supposed to safely transport raw milk more than about 50 miles from the farm?

  • asmaou diallo

    is a white mother's milk okay for a black womans new born child?

  • Dina

    Ron's the man. I've been drinking clean, raw unpasteurized milk now for years, in spite of the obstacles to obtaining it. I'm beyond tired of various nannies and bullies telling what I can or cannot consume. Enough!

  • I believe the sale of raw milk should be legal in every state. Pasteurization destroys the nutrients that drinking milk provides. Drinking milk that Big Dairy sells is dangerous because of large amounts of antibiotics in the milk from treating so many diseased cows in the herds. Don't forget the growth hormones the cows are dosed with so they produce more milk at a younger age. Wonder why eleven year old girls are wearing C cup bras and menustrating?

  • Back to the REAL thi

    Have you ever felt the smell of the fresh boiled milk ? Have you ever tasted the inch thick cream from the top of the real milk? Have you ever had homemade buttermilk? …of course not because it has cholesterol and germs and stuff, and you like soy milk…

  • I'm so glad I live in a country where I can buy raw milk whenever I want 🙂 Maybe because in EU we have so high standards regarding the farms.

    Drinking raw milk was normal until the industry came along, and created the idea that this is dangerous. Of course it's dangerous, if you transport milk from one part of the country to another, which takes days. I buy it directly from the farmer. And I've never had any problems because of it. Also I buy farmers cheese, cream and yogurts made from raw (not pasteurized) milk. Also I only buy organic milk.

    The whole thing about the raw milk is about the industry and about the way we have created our society – instead of buying raw food (or even growing it) and preparing our own meals, we buy processed food. No wonder why there so many people get ill. Also, animals used spent time outdoors, eating grass. Today they eat corn (mostly GMO) and who knows what else.

    But I agree, raw milk can be dangerous – the way animals are treaded on farms, they newer see the daylight … all the conditions that cause their suffering is reflected in the milk. If I had to buy milk from a farm like that, I would not dare to drink raw milk.

    Did you know that yogurts are made from powdered milk? Than they add artificial colors and aromas. Is this supposed to be healthy?

  • Chris, you crack me up. It already -is- legal to sell those half-dead diseased animals. 😉 You just can't sell the healthy ones you have out on the pasture in your Back 40, when there are perfectly good dying ones in feedlots! Sheesh. Silly people. 😉

    Okay, done now. Really.

  • Gee, it’s only every few days that we hear about sickness/death from govt. regulated foods. Here in Kentucky if I want to buy raw milk I have to buy a share in the animal. Same result, absurd process.

    Get the govt. out of our lives before it controls what little it doesn’t now.

    Don’t understand? Start here:

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  • I've milked cows on a small farm. I've had to use needles for milking because a cow had mastitis. I knew this cow was too sick to consume her milk. I've experienced cows deficating while they are being milked. I don't trust agribusiness not to sell milk that is contaminated or dirty, hence the need for pasteurization. I do trust local farmers to provide me with safe milk (and produce). When you have a personal relationship with the person providing your food, whether through a CSA or farmers' market, that person is only going to provide you with food they would consume or give to their family.

    I don't drink milk because I have milked too many sick cows. I do eat other dairy products. I think that consumers should have a choice. There are no guarantees with our current system that consumers are protected from large food corporations…just consider the recent outbreak of salmonella in peanut butter.

    Agribusiness does not sell raw milk. Regulating interstate commerce of raw milk targets small family farms. People deserve a choice.

  • I am not so sure that raw milk = E. Coli. Hmm. That's quite a stretch. I do understand that there are risks to drinking raw milk, but there are risks to someone like me for eating the dead milk version that the government thinks is safe.

    Frankly, with my condition, I would require hospitalization after a 1/2 glass of the "safe" stuff. Not my idea of a good time.

    I've tried raw milk and felt great afterward. That's a pretty big difference – as I haven't been able to drink homogenized/pasturized "dead" milk for over 20 years.

    Anyway, most raw milk drinkers are fairly well read on this subject and have chosen one set of risks over the nasty side effects (and risks) they are or may experience from drinking the dead stuff.

    Personally, I don't drink raw milk on any kind of a regular basis as I think it is most valuable for baby cows and I am aware of the risks of E. Coli.

    But I sure support Ron Paul's efforts on behalf of liberty. If folks want raw milk, they should be able to buy it.

  • Hugo

    Doug, If "most of us" took the time to make informed consumer decisions, the advertising industry in this country would shrivel up and die. McDonald's would have been out of business long ago. Americans expect products that go into their bodies to be safe and the only way to ensure that is by regulation, like it or not.

  • freelunch

    Yes, I do drink raw milk, since I'm (thank god) not living in america.

    I pity you!

  • Doug

    James, if you feel that you are a danger to yourself and cannot make your own health decisions of what you should and shouldn't consume, then I can understand you wanting a government agency telling you exactly what you can and can't do. However, most of us feel we have the capacity (as well as a natural right) to make those decisions ourselves, and if in doubt, we can always do a little research. I chose not to stick my hand in a fire, and believe it or not, it doesn't require a whole government agency as well as millions of dollars supporting that agency to tell me not to. Neat how that works isn't it?

    And as for the libertarian vomitting into a garbage can with bloody diarrhea? As a libertarian he's aware of how many simple freedoms we have lost to those who would love nothing more than for us all to live in a nanny state. It's enough to make anyone that values freedom, puke. And for the bloody diarrhea, well the federal government is doing the "reach around". We all have bloody stools, but some apparently are enjoying it so much they just don't seem to notice.

    One last thing. Regulations is simply another term for laws. If you honestly think that Ron Paul thinks "Laws are bad" and you truly do feel that "Laws are good", and don't realize that there are some good laws and some bad laws, which Ron Paul most certainly understands, then your a simpleton and I've wasted 5 minutes replying to you.

  • James

    Actual microbiologist here…

    Drinking unpasteurized milk is freaking retarded. There are many papers in the scientific literature that show the bulk milk from dairy farms is teeming with human pathogens. Campylobacter, typhus, E. coli, listeria, yersinia…the list is a who’s-who of bugs that cause food-bourne disease in humans.

    Here’s one:
    “Of the 248 bulk tank milk samples, 32 (13%) contained 1 species of bacterial pathogens.”

    Serve me up a fresh glass of milk, and make it one that has a 13% chance of infecting me with a food-bourne pathogen. Got dysentery?

    Also, if you want to infect yourself with disease-causing pathogens that are also multi-drug resistant (bonus!), then by all means either lick a cow’s ass or drink unpasteurized milk.

    Explained here…
    The whole abstract is worth reading, but in a nut-shell…lactating cattle are loaded with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Those are healthy dairy cattle, teeming with disease-causing pathogens that are resistant to antibiotics.

    We live in the 21st century, people. What the fuck is wrong with some of you? Ron Paul is a fucking moron.

    Also lost/absent in this discussion is Paul’s non-regulation stance on many issues. So, just to be clear, Ron Paul wants you to be able to drink raw milk, and also doesn’t want the pesky government making sure that the raw milk isn’t contaminated with multi-drug resistant Listeria. Regulation bad.

    That guy over there in the corner bent over vomitting into a garbage can with bloody diarrhea running down his leg is a libertarian.

    Regulation is good. Look what would have happened had George W Bush better regulated banking loans and wall street subsidies. We wouldn't be nearing double digit unemployment and houses wouldn't be selling for 20,000 dollars a peice.

  • Chris

    Wrong. You worked in a place where they mixed shit in the milk. You were lazy because you knew pasteurization would clean up your mess. Disgusting.

    Dairies selling raw milk, at a premium (high demand, small supply), are very economically interested in keeping their milk clean.

    I only drink raw milk and will never change.

  • Angry Sam

    Chris is full of it.

  • GC

    I support this bill.

    This part always makes me laugh when I see it – "My office has heard from numerous people who would like to obtain unpasteurized milk."

  • Chris

    umm, maybe because it is more dangerous then tobacco and alcohol? Take it from someone who actually spent over a decade working on a dairy farm. Raw milk = E. Coli, just because small farmer's "might"(they wouldn't) be able to make more money doesn't mean they want to poison people.

    But hey after this bill maybe they can make it legal to sell non-fda approved meat so people can sell half dead diseased animals. After all we don't want to waste a dead animal do we?

  • Joshua

    That IS the problem… the government is ALREADY regulating the sale of raw milk, Ron Paul wants to stop this.

    Also, if you live on a border, another state IS local.

  • chimera

    the risks do not outweigh the supposed benefits. most americans are able to get all of their vitamins from their regular diet. this just increases the likelihood of illness from milk-borne pathogens..but if you guys want to drink this, go for it. pasteurized for me, please.

  • We should all have the freedom to buy and sell what we want to, if people don’t want it they should not buy it, if a store does not want to sell it they should not sell it.
    I love Ron Paul, let freedom ring!

  • I agree Aaron, it is about over regulation, as I mention in the conclusion of the post.

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  • Good point Shake!

    Danny, so true about living near a state boundary. Yes, milk is more dangerous than tobacco and alcohol in the government's eyes.

  • Shake

    Dude is a medical doctor let's not forget.

  • Danny RInger

    I think it's funny that the Federal Government will allow the sale, shipping and consumption of Alcohol and Tobacco, but not milk straight from the cow. I guess the little guy farmers don't spend enough money buying off reps and senators.

    * Also an argument for being able to buy it from an out of state farmer….. What if you lived close to a state line?

  • aaron

    its not that he is for or against raw milk. Its the ideology that the Goverment can tell a free people what they can and cannot purchse