There’s healthy support for a plan to legalize individual raw milk sales in New Jersey following an outbreak of illness across the border in Pennsylvania this year.
Raw milk contamination linked to a Central Pennsylvania farm sickened about 80 people earlier this year. This week, Pennsylvania’s health department warned consumers to get rid of unpasteurized milk and cheese from a Berks County dairy. Supporters of the New Jersey proposal don’t seem daunted.
Assemblyman Gilbert “Whip” Wilson, D-Camden, says he’s still behind the push to allow raw milk sales in the Garden State.
“They brought some raw milk up to the Statehouse, and I drank it. It tasted good to me, and I’m still here talking to you today,” Wilson said. “I’ve heard some good things about raw milk and also some negative things about it. It’s like watching your TV; something comes on TV you don’t like, you change the channel.”
Wilson says he’s supporting consumer choice and looking to keep New Jersey dollars in the state.
Bruce Krupke is with the Northeast Dairy Foods Association, a trade group whose members sell only pasteurized dairy products.
“It’s confusing to me why legislators in New Jersey would entertain the sale of raw milk for consumers,” said Krupke. “New Jersey is one of the few states that has a longstanding law against raw milk. Why now to consider allowing it for sale is very questionable, especially with evidence that it can make people sick.”
In February, federal health officials released a 13-year survey that found illness linked to raw milk products has been more severe than illness stemming from pasteurized products.
Enthusiasm is growing more vocal, and sales are up, yet raw milk consumption is still uncommon across the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.