By Tom Collins
An Ontario MP says the province should regulate raw milk after taking a tour of raw milk advocate Michael Schmidt’s farm in February.
Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP Larry Miller said farmers have told him they want to sell raw milk if it’s regulated.
“I think some people feel it’s a niche market that could be profitable,” he said. “There’s quite a growing number of people who want the choice to drink raw milk, and whether we like it or don’t, it’s going to happen. And that means going underground to get what they want. And that’s happening.”
As it stands now, only farmers and their families are allowed to drink raw milk, and it has to be produced on their own farms. They are not allowed to give it to anyone else on or off the farm, according to the Milk Act, which covers cow and goat milk but does not regulate other milking species such as sheep or water buffalo. The sale of raw milk in Ontario has been prohibited since 1938.
The Ontario government says raw milk poses a significant public health risk but Miller doesn’t believe that to be true as handling facilities are much better now than they were years ago.
“If raw milk is handled right, it can be safe,” he said.
Unpasteurized milk sales are legal in many European countries and more than 30 U.S. states through retail or farm sales, but it is illegal in every Canadian province and territory. A 2008 study by Preventive Veterinary Medicine reported that 88.7 per cent of 2,115 Canadian dairy farmers consumed unpasteurized milk from the bulk milk tank, and that 36.3 per cent of 2,126 respondents said consumers should be able to purchase unpasteurized milk.
Miller said he was raised on raw milk, and he also gave it to his three sons until he sold the quota around 1988.
After selling the quota, his sons rarely drank pasteurized milk for two years as they didn’t like the taste.
Miller said some consumers want the choice not to drink the chemicals found in milk at the supermarket.