Industry Leaders Assuring Public Pasteurized Milk Supply is Safe

Highly pathogenic avian influenza was confirmed in a dairy herd in North Carolina last week. This is today’s topic, I’m Mike Davis. It’s also been found in six other states, but officials are stressing that the milk supply is safe. North Carolina Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler said there’s a twofold precaution.

“Number one for the milk supply, the rules are that if you have a cow that is especially displaying symptoms and those symptoms do have something to do with the milk, he can’t go into the milk supply. So we’re eliminating that in the beginning. And then number two, we have pasteurization and love the milk in North Carolina that’s the only lawful milk that can be sold in North Carolina. So according to what FDA says, pasteurization does play a role in the elimination of bacteria and viruses.”

The FDA does not have concerns about the safety and availability of pasteurized milk products including pasteurized cheese sold nationwide. North Carolina state veterinarian Dr. Michael Martin tells SFN raw milk is a different story.

“And we’ve been just really looking to our FDA partners, and they’ve been putting out a lot of good messaging on safety and pasteurization.”

The pasteurization process takes all kinds of bugs out of the milk supply. Adam Brock is the administrator of the division of food and recreational safety for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture.

“Yeah, that’s correct. There’s a very low risk of anybody contracting avian influenza from their milk supply. There’s procedures and hurdles in place and as always pasteurized milk you get for wherever you go, and that’s all going to be pasteurized your cheese is all taken care of plenty of food safety hurdles. So milk is not a concern. I would not be concerned drinking milk in fact, I had some this morning.”

Martin says it’s prohibited to sell raw milk for human consumption in North Carolina or interstate commerce.

“We are very much in favor at the Department of Agriculture that people drinking pasteurized milk, which is the law of the land in North Carolina. You cannot buy unpasteurized milk legally.”

South Carolina allows sale of raw milk both on and off the farm and at farmer’s markets. If a permit is obtained, farmers must provide retail stores with a warning plaque to be displayed in front of the raw milk.