By MAUREEN HAYDEN
CNHI Statehouse Reporter
INDIANAPOLIS — A bottle of cold milk may not seem like a hot issue, but a push to legalize the sale and consumption of the raw version of the dairy product is stirring up a strong response.
This summer, the Indiana Board of Animal Health (BOAH) is holding a virtual public hearing on the issue of legalizing the sale of raw milk for human consumption. BOAH is taking comments both for and against raw milk sales, and also asking for public input on how to regulate the production and sale of raw milk, if legalized. The comments will be part of a report that BOAH will submit to the Indiana General Assembly. The comment period is open until Sept. 1. Comments can be submitted online, at the BOAH website, www.boah.in.gov or by U.S. mail at Indiana State Board of Animal Health, Discovery Hall, Suite 100, 1202 East 38th Street Indianapolis, IN 46205
Hundreds of emails have flooded the agency’s inbox and their contents reveal just how pitched the battle is: The most vehement of raw milk lovers are demanding government regulators get out of their refrigerators; raw milk foes predict a public health disaster if they do.
“It’s a hot button issue,” said Denise Derrer, public information officer for BOAH, the state agency that regulates dairy farms.
Indiana is one of 20 states that bans the sale of raw, unpasteurized milk to consumers, citing concerns that it could harbor harmful pathogens — the reason why milk is pasteurized in the first place. But BOAH officials say they’ve given up trying to enforce the law, and acknowledge there’s a thriving black market fed by people who want to drink milk fresh from the cow.
At the direction of the Indiana Legislature, BOAH has formed an 18-member advisory panel, representing a spectrum of views, to weigh in on how raw milk sales could be regulated if legalized.
In the deep stack of emails BOAH has received from hundreds of raw milk supporters are many that read like this: “I grew up drinking raw milk and I never got sick.”
Lindsay Klaunig, a cheesemaker who crafts artisan cheese from raw milk for Traders Point Creamery in Zionsville, also sits on the BOAH advisory panel. She’s an ardent advocate for raw milk, but would like to see the state adopt standards, based on best practices, for raw milk producers.
“Let’s put the politics of it aside,” Klaunig said. “This isn’t the first time government has had to regulate food. Let’s look at the risks and regulate accordingly.”
Maureen Hayden can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
By MAUREEN HAYDEN
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