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Without any national standards for raw dairy products, and widespread controversy over the consumption of unpasteurized dairy, raw milk producers are aiming to create their own set of standards. This, they hope, will point to raw milk benefits, instead of the concerns over its safety.

The move comes as the number of Americans consuming raw dairy products has steadily increased in recent years. They claim the raw milk benefits include powerful enzymes lost in pasteurization. But there are issues; in some states, like Montana, Nevada, Maryland and Hawaii, it is illegal to sell raw milk at all, forcing customers into strange situations like calling it pet food, or owning a stake in a cow, which is a loophole in some states.

Now, Mark McAfee, CEO of Organic Pastures, the largest raw milk producer in California, has founded the Raw Milk Institute, in efforts to help the nation’s raw milk producers and consumers get the benefits of raw milk without the legal tangles, reports NPR.

“People are searching for local raw milk,” McAfee said. “But when they go to the farm, or they go to the store, they really don’t know what they’re getting.”

According to NPR, to create both “accountability and transparency,” McAfee worked with professionals including epidemiologists and biologists to create the standards at the Raw Milk Institute. “Instead of just focusing on the end results, like bacteria levels, they also worked up detailed protocols for the entire process — from taking the temperature of the dishwasher used to clean the milk bottles to the distance between the water well and manure pile.”

The Raw Milk Institute will also put efforts towards the unique challenges of each farm. And once a farm has completed its testing and a site visit from the Institute, it will be listed on the Raw Milk Institute’s website as approved, reports NPR. “Right now there are half a dozen farms listed, with 10 more in the midst of the process.”

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