In 2016, raw milk could be legally purchased in 38 States

U.S. map showing legal status of intrastate sales of raw (unpasturized) milk for human consumption, 2016

Public health authorities unequivocally advise consumers to avoid consuming raw (unpasteurized) milk. Raw milk can carry harmful bacteria and can pose serious health risks, particularly for people with weakened immune systems, older adults, pregnant women, and children. Pasteurizing milk—heating it for a specified period of time—kills dangerous bacteria and pathogens. Federal law requires pasteurization for interstate shipments of all milk and milk products intended for direct human consumption. However, States can allow intrastate shipments, and the number of States in which intrastate sale of raw milk from cows, sheep, or goats for human consumption is legal has been increasing. In 2016, 38 States allowed some form of intrastate sales of raw milk, 13 States allowed sales in retail stores, and 25 States allowed onfarm sales or cow-share agreements where a consumer can purchase a share of a cow’s milk production. Ten years earlier, intrastate sales in various forms were legal in 25 States. A version of this chart appears in the ERS report, Consumer Food Safety Practices: Raw Milk Consumption and Food Thermometer Use, released on January 29, 2019.

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