Indiana panel to consider sale of raw milk

A summer committee will study whether Indiana should allow the sale of raw, unpasteurized milk for human consumption under legislation a Senate committee passed Monday.

In the meantime, House Bill 1129 would impose stricter requirements on raw milk sold as pet food. Farmers would be required to prominently label that milk as “not for human consumption.”

Experts told the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee that raw milk has been showing up in the last few years at farmer’s markets, despite a law prohibiting its sale for human consumption. It is often sold as pet food but purchased for other reasons.

“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in people interested in buying and selling the product over the last several years,” said Gary Haynes, director of legal affairs for the State Board of Animal Health. “There’s a greater interest in farmers selling it. There’s also a greater interest in consumers consuming it.”

HB 1129 now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

Earlier this year, the Senate voted to legalize the sale of raw milk. But the author pulled the bill from consideration when the Indiana Farm Bureau and other critics raised health questions about unpasteurized milk and said the proposal had not been adequately studied.

Bob Kraft, the director of state government relations for the Indiana Farm Bureau, said that his group now supports the legislation. He said members will later look at the results of the study to decide whether to change its position against the sale of raw milk.

“Obviously, we’re concerned about the health of those who consume and the liability” of those who produce raw milk, Kraft said.

More than two dozen other states allow the sale of raw milk for human consumption in some way, although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration prohibits its sale across state lines. The FDA also urges against human consumption of milk that has not been unpasteurized, which means it has undergone a process that kills bacteria by heating the milk to a specific temperature for a set period of time.

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