WASHINGTON — Facilities producing unpasteurized, or raw, milk products are not covered by any of the food safety regulations proposed so far this year by Congress.
Sites that produce raw milk products also remain exempt from existing regulations enforced by all states, which are known as the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO), that set the standard for maintaining the safety of the nation’s milk and milk product supply.
Cheeses made from unpasteurized milk that have been aged to eliminate the risk of food borne illnesses are not considered raw milk products.
In a letter to Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and Michael Enzi, R-Wyo., the committee’s ranking member, the dairy groups called for requiring all facilities producing raw or unpasteurized milk products for direct human consumption to register with FDA and adhere to food safety requirements that are followed by all other facilities producing milk products.
“It is important to the health of the American public, and for the continued confidence in the dairy industry, that the new food safety legislation bolsters the success of the PMO program and applies any new FDA requirements to raw milk and raw dairy products,” said IDFA CEO Connie Tipton and NMPF CEO Jerry Kozak in the letter.
The Pasteurized Milk Ordinance covers all aspects of hazard analysis, planning and monitoring from farm to plant to delivery of finished milk products to retail outlets. These requirements are updated every two years through a coordinated program between FDA and state regulatory departments.
In addition, the dairy groups would like the bill to recognize that state inspections of dairy facilities under the PMO already meets necessary food safety requirements and no duplicate functions are warranted.
Because facilities following the PMO already pay fees for state licensing and inspections, International Dairy Foods Association and the National Milk Producers Federation recommend that these state fees be credited against any new FDA registration fees if such fees are added to the food safety bill.