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Survey: Hoosiers Want Access To Raw Milk

Despite health concerns, public interest in legalizing the sale of unpasteurized milk remains high.

Milk

Photo: Gretchen Frazee

Unpasteurized milk for human consumption cannot be legally sold in Indiana.

Hoosiers want access to raw milk. That’s the preliminary finding of an online public forum conducted by the State Board of Animal Health.

The board’s public information director Denise Derrer says a majority of more than 600 responses to the board’s website favor of the legalization of the sale of raw milk. After analyzing responses, Derrer says an advisory board will draft a proposal for the governor and state legislature to consider.

“We’re basically creating a plan B, and submitting to legislators to tell them ‘If you decide to legalize the sale of raw milk, here is the way we think it should happen, to offer the best benefit for folks as far as public health goes,’” Derrer said.

One member of the advisory board is LuAnn Troxel, a dairy farmer with 120 cows. Troxel is also the President of the Indiana Professional Dairy Producers. While she is excited by the increased interest in milk consumption, she says public health is still her main concern.

“It’s really important to us that there aren’t negative occurrences from drinking what we think is an amazingly wonderful thing,” Troxel said. “We love milk.”

State Senator Jean Leising is a former nurse who has serious concerns about legalizing unpasteurized milk.

She has been surprised by the amount of public sentiment in support of raw milk despite concerns over its potential to contain harmful bacteria.

“To me the whole push for raw milk, as I see it now, is that it’s almost become a fad in a way, and I’m not sure that it’s based on good concrete data,” Leising said.

Leising says if the legislature decides to move forward, any proposal will need strict guidelines for inspection and regulation. The Republican senator says she does not normally support government regulation, but it is essential when it comes to the protection of public health.

Citizens have until September 1 to submit comments to the Raw Milk Virtual Public Hearing, which can be found here.

Jimmy Jenkins

Jimmy Jenkins is a multimedia journalist for WFIU and WTIU news. A native of Terre Haute, he is a masters student at the Indiana University School of Journalism and is proud to be a part of the public broadcasting stations he listened to and watched since he was a child. Follow him on Twitter @newsjunkyjimmy.

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  • Cathy Raymond

    Raw milk a “Fad”? Actually, Lesing’s view is rather conveniently narrow. Pasteurization is the “new kid on the block”. Never before in the history of mankind was milk super heated before drinking. Likely, we wouldn’t have gotten this far as a civilization if it had. Look around you at all the lactose intolerance, milk allergies, osteoporosis and heart disease. There is a reason why our hard tissues are now soft (osteoporsis) and our soft tissues are now hard (hardening of the arteries). Look to boiled milk from incarcerated cows as one of the causes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=519537922 Trase Passantino

    I couldn’t put it better than Cathy already has. Hear, hear!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1384920206 Mason Harris

    This is just another example of big government deciding to ‘step in’ and make sure we’re ‘safe’. Ridiculous. All one needs to do is see the REAL conditions in any ‘USDA approved’ dairy or slaughterhouse and the choice is clear: Grass fed, free roaming happy HEALTHY animals produce a better product, unpasteurized or not. It disturbs me that an industry that time and time again has been proven to ignore ethical and sanitary practices for the sole sake of increased profits can honestly proclaim to care about the health of its consumers. Stop telling us what we can and can’t eat!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeneatsrealfood Jennifer Allen

    What Senator Leising fails to realize is that we don’t care what she thinks about raw milk. I can take care of making my own food choices, thank you very much. Politicians seem to be very good about making all kinds of decisons without concrete data these days but when it comes to my personal choices and freedoms they suddently get all concerned about it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tylitalo Tim Ylitalo

    Sure. Raw milk is a TEN THOUSAND YEAR OLD fad. The way I see it, most people go through an idiot transformation as soon as they take the oath of office.

  • http://www.facebook.com/darian.mongiovi Darian Mongiovi

    “The republican senator says she does not normally support government regulation, but it is essential when it comes to the protection of public health.” How Is government Regulation essential to the protection of public health? Isn’t our highly regulated and processed food diets one of the main causes of americas health problems. If anything Nutritional Education and Personal Responsibilities are essential to public health. They said food freedom is a fad backed by little concreate data, people have and always will care about good food. If anything isn’t backed by concreate data its this compleatly opinionated pile of poo that one Jimmy Jenkins calls a News article.

  • http://indianapublicmedia.org Indiana Public Media

    Thank you all for your comments. We’ve covered this topic on several occasions now. You can view our past coverage at
    http://indianapublicmedia.org/news/?s=raw+milk

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley Powers

    Maybe the folks in Indiana will pay attention to the impact of raw milk sales when they hear that a small foodborne illness outbreak based on raw milk in Missouri cost over $400,000 to investigate and to treat those who became sick.

    That’s money funded by the public through taxes and higher medical costs.

  • philbaughey

    If the State of Indiana is smart, they can make raw milk make money for the state. They could require inspections of raw milk providers and require a yearly licensing fee. Regulate the sale, and then collect sales tax on it.

    I too am a nurse, and I have no reservations about drinking raw milk. A church I used to attend had a diary farmer who would give gallons away to anyone who wanted it. It was delicious, creamy and we even made our own cottage cheese from it. I find it annoying that the government thinks that I am not smart enough to decide what is best for me and my body. Legalize the sale of raw milk!

  • Victoria Christine Bingham

    Shelley, foodborne illnesses strike in spinach, hamburger, cooked milk products, vegetables, and so on. With your logic, there shouldn’t be an edible element left on the shelves. Take vaccines as another example. The extreme rise of the number of childhood immunizations in the USA has led to an exponentially skyrocketing increase in auto immune disease, neurological damage, learning disabilities, allergies, asthma, autism, and so on. The cost to the nation has been not only in the billions of dollars, but uncountable hardship and human suffering. Let’s apply your logic and eliminate vaccines while we’re at it. The bottom line is that no one on the hill was ever hired to dictate diet to us. Regulations for cleanliness are fine. A warning such as that on a pack of your average healthy cigarette brand (loaded with astonishing junk) is fine. But to raid a farm where no one has ever complained, or been injured and where the clientele are fully voluntary.. is not only hypocritical but fascist.

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley Powers

    And if we could find ways to make something like spinach safer, we would.

    Pasteurization is a technique to ensure the milk supply is safer.

    And yes, when you all cost the tax payers money, we do have a right to have a say in what you eat.

    Your comment on vaccines is appropriate. One doctor did a flawed study of 12 kids — and you believe him over the entire medical community.

    No, no–no problem with critical thinking here.

    BTW, have you heard about the new outbreaks of measles? Whooping cough?

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley Powers

    And if there was a way we could make the produce safer, we would.

    But raw milk is just plain foolish. We have an approach to make milk safer. Just some folks rather believe myths and fairy tales than science.

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley Powers

    Oh and by the way, do you see the flaws in your argument?

    You say that more people get sick from produce. Evidently you say this because you’ve read of the outbreaks associated with the produce. Yet you say the authorities blame it on milk.

    How could the outbreaks be reported about the different produce when you say milk gets blamed for it all?

    No, you just refuse to believe facts. Facts get in the way.

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley Powers

    You’re in error. Serious error.

    The leading cause of death among young people in cities during the early 1900s was from drinking raw milk. You may scoff and say, well other issues also were responsible, but the very nature of milk makes it an ideal growth medium for pathogens.

    In an analysis of food outbreaks made by the CDC, between 1998 and 2009, there were 93 outbreaks resulting in two deaths.

    This, even though only a small percentage of people drink raw milk.

    Are you disappointed? Do you want more people dying? Is that it?

    And I’ll trust the government over a bunch of ill informed people who base their beliefs on a mixture of fairy tales and junk science.

    But there’s a solution: if you don’t trust the government, and you want to drink raw milk, there are other countries that have different governments, and basically no food safety laws.

  • Pingback: The Raw Milk Debate | Noon Edition - Indiana Public Media

  • estrellitazul

    Hey Shelley, you’re certainly not completely in the wrong here! You are absolutely right that people got extremely ill and some even died during the 1900s. But i would ask you to consider giving the extenuating circumstances a chance as well.

    It was in the 1900s, nearing the height of the industrial revolution that milk got it’s bad rap, not because the milk was inherently ‘bad’ but because with the rise of city dwellers and subsequent demand for milk, companies started bringing in milk from so many farms (clean and unclean) and mixing it all together with little to no regulation then distributing it to the masses. Upton Sinclair wrote about this sort of thing in The Jungle (which they may’ve made you read at school) regarding the meatpacking industry. Tragically, it was the illnesses and sickness of the people that should’ve been a red flag of the industrialization of milk. Fortunately, pasteurization did save the day and precious lives.

    Before this time though, raw milk was just the way people drank milk, all over most of the world, for 1000s of years! (though you could argue that in many cultures that milk *is/was* cultured into other dairy products like cheese or kefir or even buttermilk). Farmers don’t want to kill people! They want to stay in business! It behooves particularly small time farmers to be as clean as possible.

    If you make a visit to the Farm to Table Legal Defense website, or read David Gumpert’s book The Raw Milk Revolution it will shed a bit more light on the ringer the gov’t puts small time farmers (as well as dairy farmers) through as well as the history of milk, respectively. You sure don’t have to agree with people’s conclusions, but there is enough history and science to at least give the other side’s argument some weight. But it really isn’t junk science or fairy tales.

    I’m sure you’ve already guessed that I am a raw milk drinker–and i believe an informed one– but my first and foremost desire is that people have a right to choose their food, be it spinach or chips, water or soft drinks, pasteurized milk or real milk. Peace to you =)

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