Nevada passes bill permitting raw milk sales

Published on: May 29, 2013

Two national dairy organizations have urged Nev. Gov. Brian Sandoval to veto legislation that would allow raw milk to be sold to consumers in Nevada. 

The legislation passed the Nevada Assembly 40-0 on May 24, and Sandoval has until the end of this week to sign or veto the bill.

The measure was taken up for Artesanal Foods owner Brett Ottolenghi who wants to open a raw milk dairy in Nye County, Nev.

It was proposed by Assemblyperson Paul Aizley who said the action was needed to support the development of a raw milk industry in the state. The bill would allow raw milk produced anywhere in Nevada to be sold anywhere in the state.

The Food & Drug Administration does not permit interstate sales of raw milk but leaves regulation in the various states up to each state.

The National Milk Producers Federation and International Dairy Foods Assn., in a letter to Sandoval on May 29, said the measure was "a gamble with the public's health," citing potentially dangerous bacteria in unpasteurized milk.

The two groups noted that the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) found that between 1993 and 2006, unpasteurized dairy products were responsible for 1,571 cases of foodborne illness, 202 hospitalizations and two deaths. They said CDC concluded that raw milk was 150 times more likely to cause foodborne illness than pasteurized milk and 13 times more likely to lead to hospitalizations.

Nye County already has established a three-member raw milk commission to regulate Ottolenghi's dairy and other raw milk production that may be started in the county.