A Centennial of Safe Milk

Milk --- these days, it does a body good. But back in the early 1900s, not so much. Back then, milkborne outbreaks were responsible for 25 percent of all disease outbreaks linked to infected food and contaminated water. Currently, that number is less than 1 percent.

This huge improvement in the safety of milk and fluid milk products can be traced back to the Standard Milk Ordinance of 1924. Developed by the U.S. Public Health Service, the Standard Milk Ordinance called for all cities, counties, and states to follow the same set of regulations regarding milk safety. Alabama was the first state to adopt the ordinance, and the rest of the country quickly followed.

In 1950, the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments (NCIMS) held its first conference. The NCIMS brought all states together annually to continue to strengthen milk safety programs in the U.S. By 1977, NCIMS and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had formally joined together to ensure that federal and state governments worked hand-in-hand with the dairy industry to continue to monitor and improve the safety of the nation's milk supply.

This year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is celebrating 100 Years of Milk & Dairy Safety

Raw Milk Concerns

Perhaps the most important step in keeping milk safe is the process of pasteurization, which involves heating milk to a high enough temperature to kill harmful germs. Raw milk, or milk which is not pasteurized, is considered one of the riskiest foods, as it can carry a variety of harmful bacteria such as E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella. People who get sick from raw milk can suffer a variety of consequences ranging from diarrhea to vomiting to paralysis and even death.

Despite these well-known and documented risks, a small number of Americans (less than 1 percent) choose to drink raw milk. Raw milk sales are prohibited in 20 states, and allowed in 30 states.

To learn more about pasteurization, raw milk, and milk safety as a whole, check out the resources below.

Milk Safety Resources