When the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned interstate sales of raw, or unpasteurized, milk in 1974, a temporary exemption was granted for “certified” raw milk, pending hearings to assess whether its special processing made it safer. (Certified raw milk is pumped from cows using special vacuum hoses designed to prevent hoses or milk from touching sources of possible bacterial contamination.) In 10 years, no such hearings to resolve the milk’s status have been convened. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlantic has received what its director has described as a “wealth of evidence” linking consumption of this milk with serious diarrheal diseases that can result in death–most notably, campylobacteriosis and a virulent form of salmonellosis. Responding to a suit filed last year by the Washington, D.C.
-based Public Citizen Health Research Group, U.S. District Court Judge Gerhard Gesell has ordered the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to stop its foot-dragging. Calling HHS’s justification for inaction “lame at best and irresponsible at worst,” Gesell gave the agency 60 days to publish a proposed rule settling the milk’s regulatory status in both interstate and intrastate sales.