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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Ron Paul, the Unpasteurized (Raw) Milk (Bill HR 1830), Candidate for President

787px-Ronpaul1.jpgFrom Ron Paul’s website:

Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce legislation that allows the shipment and distribution of unpasteurized milk and milk products for human consumption across state lines. This legislation removes an unconstitutional restraint on farmers who wish to sell or otherwise distribute, and people who wish to consume, unpasteurized milk and milk products.

Hard as it is to believe, the federal government is actually spending time and money prosecuting small businesses for the “crime” of meeting their customers’ demand for unpasteurized milk! Recently the Food and Drug Administration conducted a year-long sting operation targeting Rainbow Acres Farms in Pennsylvania. As a result of this action, Rainbow Acres’ customers will no longer be able to purchase unpasteurized milk from this small Amish farm.

Mr. Speaker, many Americans who the government wishes to deny the ability to purchase unpasteurized milk have done their own research and come to the conclusion that unpasteurized milk is healthier than pasteurized milk. These Americans have the right to consume these products without having the federal government second-guess their judgment about what products best promote health. If there are legitimate concerns about the safety of unpasteurized milk, those concerns should be addressed at the state and local level.

I urge my colleagues to join me in promoting individual rights, the original intent of the Constitution, and federalism by cosponsoring my legislation to allow the interstate shipment of unpasteurized milk and milk products for human consumption.

For a candidate that is against regulation of nearly ever kind, I suppose I am not too surprised by his stance on this. However, what is necessary (and lacking) from both the pro and con raw milk advocates, is a real discussion of how to reduce the risk posed by the consumption of raw milk (See, Real Raw Milk Facts).

My guess is that Ron Paul has no interest in that discussion (other than a Libertarian sound bite), and I have frankly given up on the rationality of the proponents of raw milk to carry a dialogue further than they are right and I am wrong.  That is why I do what I can to limit the ability to sell raw milk state by state, legislature by legislature and governor by governor. 

I take the position that limiting raw milk sales saves kids (See, a few videos).  You might disagee, but that is my position.  I may not win all the battles this year, but four out of twelve so far (and Minnesota will make five) is not too bad, and that leaves seven to go.

  • Doc Mudd

    Ron has clinched the Amish vote!

  • Minkpuppy

    Welcome to my shame- Ron Paul and Sheila Jackson Lee make me embarassed to admit I’m from Texas…

  • Theresa Kentner

    Isn’t Ron Paul an MD? How can he fly in the face of science like that? Where is he on Creationism?

  • Dog Doctor

    Theresa Kentner, you are right.
    Source: [Xref Hunter] 2007 GOP Values Voter Presidential Debate Sep 17, 2007
    Present scientific facts that support creationism
    Q: Academic freedom is threatened when questioning the theory of evolution. An Iowa State astronomer was denied tenure because of his work in intelligent design in May 2007. Censoring alternative theories–dogmatic indoctrination–has replaced scientific inquiry. Will you encourage a more open approach to the presentation of scientific facts that contradict the theory of evolution?
    HUCKABEE: Yes.
    TANCREDO: Yes.
    COX: Yes.
    PAUL: Yes.
    HUNTER: Yes.
    KEYES: Yes.

  • Tom

    Marler is misleading people when he says that raw foods are too dangerous to eat. Eating too many industrialized and processed foods has far more negative health consequences than eating raw foods and all raw foods are at risk. It isn’t the food themselves that are the main problem but the distribution system. Any food, even pasteurized milk-the leading cause of food poisonings caused by milk-can cause illness which is why it is a mistake to aggregate all of the food from many sources, mix it all together and distribute it out again. Not only does this increase the likelihood that large numbers of people will be subjected to diseased food but the system becomes much more fragile and easy to break as well. We need robust food systems with short supply lines in order to eliminate most of the risk from our food systems.

  • Thank goodness for Ron Paul! Ambulance chasers will have to go elsewhere if HR-1830 is passed.

  • Jan, how is allowing raw milk across state lines going to stop more people from becoming ill? How is that going to stopping people from suing to recover medical bills, etc?

  • dangermaus

    The problem is that many people think that it’s OK for them to force their values (like what constitutes “too dangerous”) on others using the force of law. Ron Paul does not. Did you hear his statement at the SC debate about why we should end the war on drugs? As for lawsuits from drinking raw milk, we’ve needed tort reform in this country for a long time – people should be responsible for the things they do, including the decisions they make about the food they eat.

  • Tort Deform – great idea – perhaps we can model our system after China – jail the lawyers and the victims. Freedom comes with costs – If you sell a product that has shit in it and it should not, you should be responsible enough to pay the cost of the damages. Sure, consumers should bare responsibility as well, it is called contributory fault, and it does get raised in cases that you would expect – like drinking raw milk.

  • Doc Mudd

    Curious how the argument always gets spun as the “right to consume” when the issue is the “right to sell” defective/deceptive merchandise.
    Manufacture and distribute a safe, effective product without deceptive claims = no harm, no foul.
    Raw milk is far from the safer alternative to pasteurized and a long, long way from effective for all the ailments it’s supposed to magically cure.
    If you’re OK with Jim Bakker (remember him and his wife Tammy and the bimbo Jessica Hahn?) being jailed for gulling the public, you should be OK with raw milk sales being illegal too. How could any respectable, thinking person reasonably support any of that mess, any of it?

  • Doc, what are your thoughts on this?
    Sometime ago I penned – “What I’d Recommend: Raw vs. Pasteurized Milk” http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2009/11/what-id-recommend-raw-vs-pasteurized-milk/
    Eventually, I came to the conclusion that:
    1. Raw milk should be sold only on farms that are certified by the state and inspected and tested regularly. Make ambiguous black market milk/cheese sales and “pet food sales” meant for human consumption clearly illegal
    2. Raw milk should not be sold in grocery stores or across state lines–the risks of mass production and transportation are too great; the risk of a casual purchase by someone misunderstanding the risks is too great, as well
    3. Farms should be required to have insurance coverage sufficient to cover reasonable damages to their customers
    4. Practices such as outsourcing (buying raw milk from farms not licensed for raw milk production) should be illegal
    5. Colostrum should be regulated as a dairy product, not a nutritional supplement
    6. Warning signs on the bottles and at point-of-purchase should be mandatory. An example: “WARNING: This product has not been pasteurized and may contain harmful bacteria (not limited to E. coli O157:H7, Campylobacter, Listeria and Salmonella). Pregnant women, infants, children, the elderly and persons with lowered resistance to disease (immune compromised) have the highest risk of harm, which includes Diarrhea, Vomiting, Fever, Dehydration, Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, Reactive Arthritis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Miscarriage, or Death, from use of this product.”
    Frankly, with the “magic food” and “we are at war” language coming from the raw milk proponents, I have been more focused on stopping raw milk sales were I can, because, I certainly do not see how even my suggestions have been discussed rationally by the proponents. Frankly, I have given up on compromise. It is hard to have a discussion when you are being called a fascist, and a tool of big agribusiness or government, and yes, an ambulance-chasing vampire.

  • dangermaus

    It’s a bit of a stretch to think there’s no “play” between the situation we have where someone can choose to drink raw milk, knowing the risks, and still be able to sue the people that produced it and be assured of a reasonable chance of success – even if the producer took reasonable precautions in producing it and getting it to market. Maybe they’d get _less_ money from a judgement for what you’re saying, but they still get a payout.
    and emulating China’s prosecution of victims and lawyers…

  • So, you think the lawyers for the melamine victims and the victims should be jailed?
    So, is it only raw milk that should be subject to tort deform? Adults? Kids? The problem with denying people rights (right to drink raw milk or the right to sue) is where do you draw the line and who draws it?
    I am comfortable letting the political process help make most of those decisions and the jury system make the others. It is not a clean and simple process, but there is not much that is when you deal with human behavior.

  • dangermaus

    Of course not… That’s at all what I said (unless I’m re-reading it wrong, or you’re setting me up for some some lawyerly “if a then b, and if b then c” / slippery slope argument on me – haha.
    I’m asserting that we currently have a system where the producer is always at least partially liable, regardless of what the consumer did leading up to the injury. It’s reasonable to think that could be changed without emulating the Chinese government’s practice of sending their DA’s to file charges against victims and their lawyers for making trouble.
    Maybe you can fill me in on how those two actions are even directly related to each other?

  • No, was not trying to be tricky. Perhaps I simply misunderstood your comment. Yes, a producer can be help liable if their product is defective. The product is defective if it has a pathogen or other substance in it that should not be there and causes the consumer to be ill. This has been settled law for over 100 years. Of course the producer can claim that the consumer knew the product was dangerous and therefore not in fact defective. Believe me, that argument is raised all the time.
    Example, let’s say you and I went out to dinner, we both ordered raw hamburger washed down by a big glass of raw milk. We both get E. coli and develop HUS, and it was linked to the raw hamburger. Perhaps a jury would give you money, but certainly not me. I got what I bargained for. Change the facts to two teenagers – same outcome? Should it be? The law needs to be flexible to the facts. The system really does operate as well as any human designed system is capable.

  • Doc Mudd

    I’m on board, point by point with your proposal for legally producing and marketing unpasteurized milk, including the labeling – if the warning label and proof of inspection won’t relieve the vendor of product liability…and if it won’t provide grounds for health insurers to deny claims of victims.
    The remaining anquished reservation I have with “legalization” is for the innocent little kids who are sickened by gullible parents needlessly experimenting with risky fashion food. Maybe further regulate raw dairy products similar to alcohol and tobacco, re; unlawful to distribute to minors. This gets convoluted and so damned touchy – much more sensible in my mind to simply restrict the sale altogether, routinely pasteurize the stuff and move on to more important (and less emotionally charged) issues. But I despair of vulnerable folks ever overcoming their elan for raw milk flim-flam, especially with the WAPF inmates running the asylum (or at least dominating of the PA system).
    Why all the sophomorish drama from raw milkies, anyway? Heck, I’ve adopted the subconscious habit of buckling my seatbelt – it’s painless and no trouble at all. We’ve all accepted UL listing of electrical appliances as sensible precaution, why not simply accept pasteurization for the sensible precaution it has proven to be? Our family drinks loads of pasteurized milk and can take its safety and quality for granted without a thought – what a tremendous modern convenience!
    If there were no unpasteurized dairy products on the market we would all somehow continue to muddle through.

  • dangermaus

    But what’s the point of having extra-tight inspections on a product that people already are ignoring obvious, compelling scientific data about? Why do you think they’ll believe it? They’ve decided to throw caution to the winds and go with their gut and should be free to do so.