Briggs: Tennessee has no regulation over raw milk, proposes bill

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A t year-old was hospital-bound after suffering complications from drinking raw milk in June of 2018. William Zenker is still feeling the pain nearly a year later.

Now, his father, William, is working with State Senator Richard Briggs to change the regulations on raw milk.

Briggs told WVLT News that 20 states currently outlaw selling raw milk, but a loophole in Tennessee allows advocates to still get their hands on it.

Briggs said there are 24 pages regulating pasteurized milk, but he said unpasteurized dairies have nothing.

"If it's your own cow, then the state has no regulation over it," he said. "They'll ship to some of these stores, particularly small country stores and sell it out of the back room. There's all sorts of ways to get around it."

Briggs said, under Tennessee law, if you own the cow and aren't selling raw milk, then you don't have to register with the state and there's no regulations.

However, a cow share act passed in 2009 allows residents to buy parts of the cow.

Briggs proposed a bill in March requiring people to register with the state. It would also make sure raw milk bottles include a warning label.
Owners would also have to attend a class on sanitation.

"The problem occurs from cow manure -- it can be in the containers if they're not done properly," Briggs said. "It can be in the large storage tanks. The temperature may not be right. It may be in the lines that have to be cleaned. It's not a problem of what's coming out of the udder. It's all the other places it's becoming contaminated."

Raw milk fanatics claim it tastes better, and can prevent allergies. They also said it lowers cholesterol. The FDA and CDC warn about serious health risks, such as listeria, salmonella, and e-coli.

Briggs is working to get the bill passed through the 2019 legislative session to require more regulation on raw milk.