Guest Blog Post: Avoid Uninspected and Raw Milk/Dairy Products

July 14, 2010 at 10:54 am Leave a comment

Thanks to Liz Woodroff for today’s guest blog post! Got an agriculture related post? Send your submissions to for a featured blog post!

Onset of warm weather signals the return of one of the Midwest’s finest summer traditions:  farmer’s markets. While enjoying the bounty of Hoosier farms, the Indiana State Board of Animal Health’s Dairy Division and the American Dairy Association of Indiana remind consumers to avoid buying milk and dairy products that have not been inspected, including raw products. Also, in Indiana there is a ban on the sale of raw milk for human consumption, and federal law prohibits the retail sale of unpasteurized milk across state borders.

“The local foods movement has motivated more people to begin processing their own dairy products on the farm for sale to neighbors and local markets,” explains Terry Philibeck, director of BOAH’s Dairy Division. “Selling these products without proper licensing and inspection is not only illegal, but can be unsafe.”

Unpasteurized milk and dairy products (often called “raw”) can carry illness-causing organisms, such E. coli, campylobacter and listeria. These organisms can result in severe illness, or even death, particularly in susceptible individuals like the very young, very old, pregnant or immune-compromised. Pasteurization is a heat-treatment process that kills harmful pathogens without affecting the nutritional value of the milk.

Recently, nearly two dozen people in Michigan and Indiana were sickened by campylobacter after consuming raw milk linked to an unlicensed Elkhart County, Indiana dairy farm. The products were produced and sold without sanitary inspection.

How does a consumer know if a product is inspected? First, check the label, Philibeck advises.

“Labels on all state-inspected products will list a plant or facility code,” he says. “This number is two digits, followed by a hyphen and four more numbers. The packaging used must be of professional quality and approved by the state, including required listings of ingredients and nutritional content.”

Dairy products are among the most tested and regulated foods in this country.  All dairy products sold in Indiana must originate from a state-licensed and inspected farm, with appropriate processing, packaging and labeling at a state-inspected processing facility, including those operated on farmstead sites. This standard applies to all dairy products, including milk produced by cows, goats and sheep. The only exception to this law is an allowance for certain raw milk cheeses that are produced under official state inspection using very specific aging processes.

The Board of Animal Health works with local health departments across the state to ensure that products offered to the public are safe to eat. For more information about safe dairy products, visit the BOAH Web site at



Entry filed under: Guest Bloggers, Uncategorized.

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