Ask the Ethicurean: Washington and U.S. Raw Milk Jurisdiction, and a nod to Canada

Curious asks: “Does Washington state have special rules for selling raw dairy products in state? I thought the FDA put the ax to selling raw milk awhile ago….”

Broadly speaking, the FDA has jurisdiction over food safety that involves food that crosses state lines. Individual states have jurisdiction over the in-state sale of raw milk, and each state determines their own rules governing in-state production of raw milk.

In 1987, the FDA proposed and enacted a ban on the interstate sale of raw milk for human consumption, unless the milk will be pasteurized before consumption.
The FDA remains opposed to raw milk.

Washington State has a certification process for the sale of raw milk products. Producers have to meet certain requirements before they get Grade A certification. State law requires that dairy farmers regularly test milk for bacteria, maintain the health of their animals, and properly label their products.

General guidelines and some specifics regarding testing, animal health, and labeling are recorded in Washington State’s Milk Plant Handbook (PDF). Washington State gives their official view on raw milk in the a flier called Raw Milk Truth (PDF).

As with the FDA, Washington State requires that cheese made from raw milk must be aged for 60 days.

The Weston A. Price Foundation’s Campaign for Real Milk provides raw milk information for all 50 United States. Raw milk is illegal to sell in Canada.

I’ll briefly cover the areas where the other Ethicureans live: Texas allows the sale of raw milk direct to consumers from the farm, and has a certification process. California allows in-store and farm sales of raw milk, and also has a certification process.

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