Map of State Laws on the Sale of Unpasteurized Cow’s Milk, 2012–2019
Human consumption of unpasteurized, or raw, milk is a serious public health concern. Pathogens found in raw milk that would be otherwise destroyed by pasteurization include E. coli, Campylobacter, Salmonella, and Listeria, among others. Human infection with these pathogens can cause severe illness and death.
Federal law prohibits the sale of unpasteurized milk across state lines, but individual state laws govern the sale of unpasteurized milk within the state. These state laws vary widely. While some states prohibit the sale of unpasteurized milk to consumers, other states allow its sale in retail stores or on the farm where the milk was produced.
An increasing number of states also expressly allow the distribution of unpasteurized milk through cow or herd shares. Under these arrangements, an individual purchases an ownership share in a cow or herd and can obtain a portion of the raw milk produced, bypassing state laws that prohibit the retail sale of unpasteurized milk. Recent trends in increased legalization are expected to increase the disease burden associated with human consumption of unpasteurized milk.
Researchers from CDC’s Public Health Law Program (PHLP) in the National Center for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Public Health Infrastructure and Workforce conducted a longitudinal legal epidemiology study of state statutes and regulations governing the sale of unpasteurized cow’s milk from 2012 to 2019. A description of the PHLP study and a detailed analysis of foodborne illness outbreaks conducted by the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases can be found at Foodborne illness outbreaks linked to unpasteurised milk and relationship to changes in state laws – United States, 1998–2018 | Epidemiology & Infection | Cambridge Core.
 Geospatial Research, Analysis, and Services Program. (2022, November 15). State laws governing the sale/acquisition of unpasteurized fluid cow’s milk for human consumption, as of May 8, 2019 [Static Map]. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
 Costard S, Espejo L, Groenendaal H, et al. Outbreak-related disease burden associated with consumption of unpasteurized cow’s milk and cheese, United States, 2009–2014. Emerging Infectious Diseases 2017;23(6):957–64.