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Raw Milk? Or Raw Deal? State May Okay Unpasteurized Milk Sales With Labels

Legislators approve on-the-farm raw milk sales with warning labels

Food Safety News – The Kansas Senate, on a 37-3 vote, has sent the House a bill permitting on-the-farm sales of raw milk with the requirement it is sold with a warning label because the product is not pasteurized.

it is expected to pass the House and remove for this year the possibility that Kansas would ban raw milk sales entirely. The state has about four dozen raw milk dairies.

A Kansas judge last year struck down as unconstitutional a 53-year-old statute that banned any raw milk advertising off the farm where it was sold.

State officials accepted that ruling, but the Kansas Department of Agriculture did support the warning label requirement. As legislation supported by the Executive Branch, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly is expected to sign Senate Bill 308, assuming it emerges from the House.

The department did not support SB 300, which would have banned raw milk sales in the state. That would have forced Kansas raw milk dairies to pursue a different business model or cease operations.

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Instead, the Senate backed off its original 37-word warning label to inform the consuming public about the health risks of consuming milk that has not been pasteurized. Kansas will also continue its historic ban against selling raw milk in any conventional retail setting.

It went with a similar warning label requirement with bill language that says: ” The on-farm retail sale of milk or milk products shall be lawful, so long as each container of ungraded unpasteurized raw milk sold or offered for sale contains bears a label that is clearly visible and states the following or its equivalent: ‘This product contains ungraded raw milk that is not pasteurized.’ “

The bill also amends the definition of “milk” in Kansas dairy law (KSA 2019 Supp. 65-771) to exclude milk or milk products produced for on-farm retail sales.

The bill would also expand the definition of “milk” to include healthy mammals. Current law limits the definition of healthy cows. Additionally, the bill would amend the definition of “milk” to remove provisions referencing milk solids not fat, milkfat, and goat milk.

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SB 308 also removes from Kansas dairy law the definition of “goat milk.”

It would clarify the definition of “on-farm retail sales of milk or milk products” by stating it refers to unpasteurized raw milk or unpasteurized raw milk products.

The bill also removes from the definition of “on-farm retail sales of milk or milk products” provisions prohibiting producers selling ungraded raw milk or ungraded raw milk products from promoting such sales other than by a sign on their dairy farm, including advertising and labeling requirements.

The Kansas Livestock Association and the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) testified as proponents, stating the importance of informing the public of potential risks of consuming unpasteurized milk.
Also favoring the bill in written testimony was the Kansas Farm Bureau.

The Kansas Justice Institute and three private citizens testified as opponents, stating the health benefits of consuming raw milk and concern with the labeling length and font requirements.

The Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, the Kansas Farmers Union, and five private citizens provided written-only opponent testimony.

The Kansas Dairy Association, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and Midwest Dairy provided written-only neutral testimony.

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