Raw Milk and Safety
The decision of a California dairy to go to court to challenge critics of its raw milk products looks like an effort to silence scientific criticism.
There is no question about the right to bring litigation. But this action, asking $110 million in damages, appears to be a move to intimidate those who have raised doubts about the safety of raw milk products. There will always be room to quibble about the critics’ choice of words. In this case the dairy apparently objects to a physician’s comparison of the contamination risk of raw milk to toxic waste and the assertion that contaminated milk can kill. We think that those differences can be resolved better in scientific debate than through litigation. Without doubt, concern about the safety of raw milk is widely shared in the medical community. Now the courts must decide whether the dairy is correct in asserting that particular criticisms are slanderous and defamatory.
The questions raised by a reputable physician and a distinguished medical society regarding the risks of raw milk seem to us consistent with the obligation of scientists to share with the public their concerns about potential risks to health. We have not supported moves to bar the sale of raw milk products, but we vigorously support the need for those purchasing the products to be aware of the controversy surrounding their safety.