A few weeks ago, the United Kingdoms Food Standards Agency came out with an eye-opening report on raw milk. This agency, the UKs equivalent of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, acknowledged and accepted, at least on a minimal basis, the reality of raw milk, including the following:
- The FSA sought out the opinions of more than 100 raw milk consumers via an innovative consultation event on options for controls for RDM (raw drinking milk). The overarching conclusion from the event is that there is an appetite among producers and current RDM consumers for increased consumer access to RDM .
- The FSA said it was open to allowing raw milk vending machines in the UK. Vending machines for RDM are used across many countries in the EU and producers and consumers have suggested that more flexible rules to allow vending machines placed in retail outlets would allow wider, but still controlled access to RDM.
- It concluded that consumers and producers hold a strong view .that there should be wider accessibility to RDM but this should still be managed and controlled. The FSA report, coming on the heels of renewed openness to raw milk by New Zealand (including an online survey of raw milk consumers) has prompted Mark McAfee, the founder and director of the Raw Milk Institute (RAWMI), to try to capitalize on the international warming trend (as it were) on raw milk. In a letter to John Sheehan, the FDAs dairy regulation head, he proposed, a meeting to create and establish an investigational pilot project that would narrowly permit interstate commerce of raw milk for human consumption under FDA supervision, specific standards, testing and control.
McAfee argued in the letter that the FDA should engage in a dialog on raw milk in the interests of public safety. The FDA does not need to like raw milk to regulate it or set fair standards for it. The current FDA policy of suppressing raw milk does not work. In fact, it appears to excite and stimulate markets .as raw milk is being pushed underground by the FDA which makes it less safe.
It is difficult to imagine the FDA engaging in a dialog with McAfee, or anyone proposing a shift in its ideological opposition to raw milk. As McAfee points out in a comment following my previous post, the FDA has ignored his citizens petitions of the last few years, seeking a lifting of the ban on interstate sales of raw milk–that despite its obligation to respond to citizens petitions within six months. He has threatened to seek a court order requiring the FDA to act on the most recent petition, filed a year ago.
The only sliver of hope I can see is some kind of recognition within the FDA that it is not only losing the battle to scare people away from raw milk, but that it is becoming ever more isolated in a world in which raw milk is becoming ever more popular, and regulators in other countries are coming to accept the raw milk reality.