Wisconsin Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics Opposes Companion Bills AB 628 / SB 434 Legalizing Sale of Raw Milk

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So-called "raw milk" poses health threats to children, the elderly, people with compromised immune systems and the public at large. There is no scientific evidence against pasteurization, but there are significant risks associated with drinking raw milk.

The Wisconsin Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (WIAAP) today voiced its strong opposition to two bills that would legalize the sale of ‘raw milk’ in Wisconsin.

“This legislation would endanger kids,” worries Jeff Lamont, MD, FAAP, President of the WIAAP. “Pasteurization is viewed worldwide as a significant public health breakthrough. As pediatricians we care for and protect children who cannot choose their own diets.” Raw milk is a known link to food-borne illnesses carried through bacteria such as E coli, Salmonella, Listeria, and Campylobacter. These bacteria are capable of causing diseases as serious as meningitis, kidney failure, tuberculosis, brucellosis, bone or joint infections and even death, and can lead to miscarriages in pregnant women. (Source: Article entitled "Food Safety Hazards Associated with Consumption of Raw Milk," Volume 6, Number 7, 2009 edition of FOODBORNE PATHOGENS AND DISEASE.)

James Conway, MD, FAAP, chair of the WIAAP Infectious Disease and Immunization committee, agrees. “Pasteurization has prevented countless cases of infection in children and individuals with compromised immune systems, as well as the general public. There are no scientific reasons to oppose pasteurization, but there are significant risks associated with the practice of drinking raw milk.” According to The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 1,600 illnesses, 202 hospitalizations and two deaths between 1993 and 2006 are linked with unpasteurized dairy products and states that permit the sale of raw milk run nearly three times the risk of having raw milk-related outbreaks. (Additional Source: Article entitled "Unpasteurized Milk: A Continued Public Health Threat," January 1 2009:48 edition of CLINICAL INFECTIOUS DISEASES, Food Safety.)

Recent testimony by the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association (WVMA) also expressed vehement opposition to the proposed law. Dr. Keith Poulsen of the WVMA stresses, “Grade A milk is only suitable for human consumption after pasteurization, as there are no acceptable rapid tests to identify harmful bacteria in raw milk, and even healthy cows shed bacteria in their milk.”

Multiple public health and agricultural health agencies oppose the sale of unpasteurized milk products, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Public Health Association, NMC (formerly the National Mastitis Council), the American Veterinary Medical Association, the U.S. Animal Health Association, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Environmental Health Association, the International Association for Food Protection, the World Health Organization, and the Wisconsin Division of Public Health.

Lamont urges concerned citizens to contact their legislators to voice opposition. “The financial benefit to a small group of people is not worth the risk and higher health care costs to taxpayers.”

Comprised of nearly 1,000 members and a part of the American Academy of Pediatrics (“AAP”), WIAAP works to assure optimal health and safety for Wisconsin’s children and their families through advocacy and collaboration with child interest groups. WIAAP supports Wisconsin pediatricians, enabling them to continue to be the most effective providers of health care to children. The American Academy of Pediatrics is committed to the attainment of optimal physical, mental and social health and well-being for all infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

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