Illinois Considers Raw Milk Regulations

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Department of Public Health has received hundreds of public comments about regulations it is considering for the processing and sale of unpasteurized milk.

State regulators want to create a two-tier system of permits and inspections that would apply to milk from cows, goats, sheep, water buffalo and other hoofed animals, The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reported. They must weigh the risk of illness posed by consuming raw milk against claims by some that it is healthier than pasteurized milk.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration data show between 300,000 and 400,000 Illinoisans drink raw milk. Regulations are necessary to make raw milk safer for consumption, Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said.

"When it comes to raw milk, without rules, it basically makes it illegal," Arnold said. "By developing rules on where it can be sold, how it can be sold and to whom it can be sold ... we're making it a safer product."

When the public comment period ends Oct. 20 the proposed rules will be submitted for final approval to the bipartisan legislative Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. The committee is responsible for reviewing and implementing state regulations.

"I noticed a definite difference," said Springfield retiree Tim Kelly, 57, who switched to raw milk products more than two decades ago. "I felt better. I was stronger. I sleep better. It really worked for me and never caused me any problems."

Wes Kind, executive director of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance in Springfield, said rules will force small producers out of business because they won't be able to afford the required expensive equipment.

"The economics don't work. We're talking about farms that have one or two cows and sell a couple of gallons a week," King said. "My hope is we can get them to stand down and restart the process."

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