It is illegal to sell raw milk–that is, milk that has not been pasteurized–for human consumption in the State of Indiana. However, you can still find it. Traders Point Creamery sells it as “pet milk”, and the Amish-run Grass Point Diary sells it as well. Both vendors are frequently at the Indy Winter Farmer’s Market, which is held at the City Market on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. You can also buy it as part of a herd share with a farmer, although it’s a legally grey area.
Consumer demand for raw milk is unknown, but the Indiana Board of Animal Health (BOAH) is aware of it. In 2012, the BOAH conducted a study into the issue, which can be found at IN.gov.
The BOAH urged the State to consider two options:
- “Option A. Maintain the current requirement for milk to be pasteurized prior to sale and amend the statute to clarify that all persons producing milk for consumption must comply with state sanitation standards and pasteurize the milk regardless of the method used to distribute the milk, including cow or herd share arrangements and products labeled for pet food.” In other words, ban the sale of raw milk completely.
- “Option B. Change the current law requiring pasteurization to allow limited distribution of raw milk directly from the farmer producing the milk to consumers and authorize the BOAH to establish minimum sanitary requirements that may reduce the risk of human illness. If Indiana is to move away from the current laws requiring pasteurization of milk and milk products sold to the public, the following principles should be followed: 1. The Indiana State Board of Animal Health should have the authority to adopt rules requiring permits and establishing sanitation standards for raw milk producers. 2. All farmers producing raw milk for consumption should be held to the same standards. 3. The sale of raw milk should be limited to the farmer producing the milk selling directly to consumers.” In other words, legalize but regulate.
The BOAH surveyed licensed dairy farms about the issue, but received only a 15.8 percent response rate. Of 242 responses, 158 indicated they would sell raw milk to consumers if it was legalized in Indiana. That’s almost two-thirds of respondents.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prohibits the interstate sale of raw milk for human consumption through a regulation adopted in 1987, according to the report. The FDA regulation was adopted after a decision issued by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia that ordered the FDA to “approve a rule banning the interstate sale of all raw milk and all raw milk products, both certified and non-certified”.
There have been several attempts to overturn this, including a WhiteHouse.gov petition, two Congressional bills and a lawsuit by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.
“Passing a law allowing the sale of unpasteurized milk will likely lead to an increase in the number of farmers selling unpasteurized milk to consumers, an increase in the volume of unpasteurized milk sold to consumers and an increase in the number of people consuming raw milk,” the study reads. “With more people exposed to greater volumes of unpasteurized milk, the risk that someone will become ill from consuming milk that contains pathogens will increase. Therefore, changing Indiana law to allow the sale of unpasteurized milk will increase the risk that consumers will become ill from consuming pathogens in unpasteurized milk. … But the decision to authorize or not the sale of unpasteurized milk to consumers is ultimately a political decision.”