I think that we forget, at our peril, that the reason food safety laws were enacted is because people, many people, used to die from eating food that was contaminated. This was back when people knew their local dairyman or butcher, when there was feedback about what was and wasn't OK, and when individuals producing foodstuffs were accountable to their customers in the first person. But at that time, more people died of acute foodborne illness than die from it now now.
Current public health and food safety legislation was passed in response to a national endemic of foodborne illness, subsequent sickness, and death. This was not one or two people dying with a "well, guess I shouldn't have had that raw milk, George" attitude. This was dozens and hundreds and perhaps even thousands of people dying of typhus, cholera, brucellosis, and a myriad other assortment of bacteria and viruses that pasteurization kills.
Are there health benefits to raw milk? Probably. Do these possible benefits outweigh the risk to the greater population if pasteurization laws are rescinded, regardless of the purported reliability or safety of the source? No.
Keep in mind that public health laws are laws designed for the greater good of the general population. They are utilitarian in their ethical justification: They are designed to bring the greatest amount of good to the greatest number of people, and to help ensure health for all by regulating activities that we all depend on for our health. In short, the laws prohibiting raw milk aren't based on your specific example. They're based on the aggregate total milk producing facilities in the country.
Can you tell I'm a strong supporter of public health laws? I sure hope so. I've never seen anyone die of typhus, brucellosis, or cholera. I've no desire to change that state of affairs any time soon. And I do not think that public health and food safety laws prohibit us from continuing with sustainable farming and livestock techniques. I'm praying for the day when all food is as safe as we can make it, and we can honestly say, "we don't really need these food safety regulations any more." I hope that when that day comes, we'll hold on to them as a reminder of the cost of our freedom from disease.
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