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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

On Farm Raw Milk Sales to Happen in Wisconsin? Only if Warnings, Registration, Inspection and Testing are Required

The Senate Agriculture Committee scrapped an earlier version of the Wisconsin Raw Milk Bill (see earlier post) and has instituted what I see as an appropriate compromise (if I do not say so myself) that includes warnings, registration, inspection and testing. The committee also stripped a provision sought by raw milk farmers that would have given them immunity from civil liability from any customers that they might have injured because of contaminated raw milk.

A positive day for public health, consumers and raw milk farmers. See full Bill below:

  • A battle lost for raw milk and constitutional rights…a battle, not the war.
    This is just going to make accessing raw milk harder…and consumers (read:voters) angrier. A good thing for consumers…a bad thing for elected officials in the long term.

  • Doc Mudd

    Seems more than fair. Especially reasonable that producers will remain fully accountable for the outcome of their marketing and profiteering.
    Sensible regulation and protocols to prevent, test and identify the real risk to consumers who are then fully informed and responsible for their own decisions; for themselves and their children – excellent!

  • Claudia Smith

    I am less than enthusiastic about this regulation/legislation. It seems restrictive in a couple areas.
    I am curious about the area that is about “not for resale”. I actually am part of a carpool for milk (milk pool?). Those of us in the group take turns going out to the farm to collect for all of us, and then drop the milk off at each others houses. At this point, my turn comes about once every other month – and I am happy to help out. It spreads the gas charge, and yet lets us all be social whilst getting something we all enjoy. The wording there makes me wonder if this sort of helping would be allowed.
    Something else that concerns me a LOT, though, even more so than the carpool question. There is a requirement that the farmer collect information about the customers and retain the records for at least a year. Why? What is the purpose of my name being a part of the records? Does this mean that he will have to validate me by recording my documentation? What if I am doing the car pool thing, and he sees that I’m purchasing what looks like an excessive amount of milk? Is he supposed to report that to someone?
    Why does this record need to be made and kept when the same record is not needed if I want to purchase other things from him – like zuccini?

  • Steve Bemis

    Upon further reflection, another aspect of Senate 434 Substitute Amendment seems a bit much, namely the name and address requirement. Although I understand the thrust for epidemiology, I can’t think of another sale-of-food requirement which is so overreaching, especially in the public sales arena (cow share farmers do this all the time, but they run their businesses on a private-contract model). Hence, I would propose to eliminate (2r)(b); or at the very least, protect customer privacy by adding the following at the end of (2r)(b):
    “, or provide alternate means of communicating with customers with substantially equivalent effectiveness in a timely fashion (e.g., email) surrounding a possible contamination event; provided, that the department may not make any use of any such identifying information for other than epidemiological purposes.”
    Concerning clarification to (2g)(b)(3), I would suggest the following consistent with my earlier comments about apparent restrictions on pickups, so that the section would read as follows:
    “3. All sales are to individuals who will consume the milk, who may be represented through agency, car pool, delivery sharing or buying club arrangements; provided, that in no case shall the intent or effect of such arrangements be for resale.”

  • Steve, as I said yesterday, I think your No. 3 modification make sense, and I passed along my thoughts to the Assembly too. The listing of customers names is an interesting provision and I can understand some folk’s concerns. However, if there ever was a recall of product, it should would be a good way of contacting customers. Also, although the is no requirement that the customers sign a waiver (knowing the risks of raw milk), this would be a good way of keeping track of who and who has not signed one. One other thought, if there ever was an outbreak – or alleged outbreak – know the names of all customers would sure be a quick way of determining if the outbreak was real.