It seems the raw milk debate has bubbled up with the local foods movement. Some people think unpasteurized milk is healthy. Most states ban it for fear of dangerous bacteria. David Gumpert, who has chronicled the push for unpastuerized milk, reports on a Maine town that wants to be exempt from state and federal regarding food production.
Citing America’s Declaration of Independence and the Maine Constitution, the ordinance proposed that “Sedgwick citizens possess the right to produce, process, sell, purchase, and consume local foods of their choosing.” These would include raw milk and other dairy products, and locally slaughtered meats, among other items.
It wasn’t just a declaration of preference. The proposed warrant added, “It shall be unlawful for any law or regulation adopted by the state or federal government to interfere with the rights recognized by this Ordinance.” In other words, no state licensing requirements prohibiting certain farms from selling dairy products or producing their own chickens for sale to other citizens in the town.
What about potential legal liability and state or federal inspections? It’s all up to the seller and buyer to negotiate. “Patrons purchasing food for home consumption may enter into private agreements with those producers or processors of local foods to waive any liability for the consumption of that food. Producers or processors of local foods shall be exempt from licensure and inspection requirements for that food as long as those agreements are in effect.”
Gumpert talked about the issue on WBUR’s Here & Now this past summer.
Quietly – since the accepted medical and public health wisdom is that raw milk is a dangerous source of bacteria, including listeria, salmonella, and E. coli – hundreds of consumers around Boston have made the same decision (to buy raw milk). A total of 24 Massachusetts dairies now have permits to sell raw milk, double the number two years ago.