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A growing number of consumers are devotees of unpasteurized "raw" cow, goat, and sheep milk. Pasteurization is "the application of heat to destroy human pathogens in foods." (2) While pasteurization has proven to substantially reduce milk's disease pathogen load, raw milk advocates claim pasteurization reduces milk's inherently beneficial qualities, such as available nutrients, active enzymes, helpful bacteria, calcium absorption, and taste. (3) Despite the potential risks to human health, consumers continue to demand and producers continue to market raw milk to the general public. (4) The resulting raw versus pasteurized milk dynamics has resulted in an hodge-podge of federal and state regulatory schemes over the broad milk spectrum from strict prohibition to liberal marketing. The inherent danger of raw milk consumption, coupled with varying legal permissiveness, can trigger liability under a number of legal theories. This article outlines the regulation of raw milk by the federal government and the states, paying particular attention to Florida. A second article will examine the legal ramifications of marketing raw milk to the end consumer. While milk is a rich source of nutrition, it also provides an ideal environment for a number of dangerous bacteria and viruses: (5) anthrax, campylobacter, (6) E. coli, (7) listeria, (8) rabies, (9) salmonella, (10) staphylococcus, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, and yersiniosis. (11) These illnesses have serious health consequences. Pasteurization does not provide fail-safe protection, but does provide an added layer of liability protection by its reduction of pathogens that can injure consumers. (12) Milk contamination primarily occurs via the mammary gland and from the outside environment, like fecal matter on milking equipment or udders. Outside contamination has numerous sources, including sick farm labor, generally unsanitary conditions, and improper refrigeration or improper handling. (13) According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 1973 to 1992, there were 1,733 documented raw milk-related illnesses in the United States. (14) A 2004 National Association of State Departments of Agriculture survey found 29 states that have recorded raw milk-related illness outbreaks. (15) From 1998 to May 2005, states reported at least 45 such outbreaks to the FDA. (16) Some of these outbreaks involved severe symptoms and hospitalization. (17)

Professional & Technical
October 1
Florida Bar
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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