The Associated Press reports that our state legislature is considering a bill to allow the practice of "herd sharing" to enable West Virginians to consume raw milk. As a dairy farmer, encouraging milk consumption is what I do every day, but in this case, I strongly oppose this measure, because of the risks it places on human health.
West Virginia dairy farmers work tirelessly to ensure the milk we produce is safe, wholesome and of the highest quality. We do that by keeping our cows healthy and feeding them a nutritious diet, and through comprehensive on-farm testing. Then, at the time of milk processing, we rely on pasteurization - a simple, proven and effective method that kills harmful pathogens like bacteria - as a final step to assure the safety of milk and dairy products.
Don't just take my word for it - the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration agree - recommending that no one consume unpasteurized milk. In December 2013, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) took it a step further, issuing a policy statement that says there is no scientific evidence to support claims of health benefits from drinking raw milk and that significant health risks exist with raw milk consumption (especially for pregnant women, the elderly and children).
AAP also endorsed a nationwide ban on the sale of raw dairy products, citing substantial data that suggest pasteurized milk "confers equivalent health benefits compared with raw milk, without the additional risk of bacterial infections."
West Virginia currently bans all sales of raw milk - a law that is in the best interest of the state's citizens and should remain intact without the threat of misguided legislation like House Bill 4273.