Hawaii Department of Health clamps down on raw goat milk

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

The DOH said drinking unpasteurized milk is unsafe. Pic: Getty Images/Monty Rakusen
The DOH said drinking unpasteurized milk is unsafe. Pic: Getty Images/Monty Rakusen

Related tags E. coli Salmonella Hawaii goat milk Raw milk Food safety

Hawai‘i Department of Health Food Safety Branch inspectors are visiting pet supply stores and food retailers throughout the state and issuing cease and desist notices to those engaged in the illegal sale of unpasteurized goat milk.

 An embargo on raw milk products, which are not safe for human consumption, is now in effect. Pet stores or any other retailer with raw milk in their possession must remove the product from sale immediately and destroy or return the product to their supplier. Failure to do so may result in seizure and fines of up to $10,000 per day.

As of July 1, the DOH said there were nearly 20 O‘ahu pet stores selling the unpasteurized goat milk product. The health department is continuing its inspections.

Under Hawai‘i law, only Grade A pasteurized milk and milk products may be sold to the final consumer or to restaurants.

“The goat milk is being advertised as ‘pet food,’ but the sale of any form of raw fluid milk is a risk to public health because it is easily diverted for human consumption,”​ said Peter Oshiro, chief of the Food Safety Branch.

“There are many in our community that mistakenly believe that drinking raw milk is healthy, but this is simply untrue.”

The DOH said drinking unpasteurized milk is unsafe because it may result in serious illnesses, hospitalizations and even death. Raw milk has the potential to carry and transmit pathogens including E. coli​, Salmonella​, and other bacteria that can cause disease.

It added drinking raw milk is particularly dangerous because children infected through consumption of raw milk can spread disease through fecal-oral means and cause a serious disease outbreak among other children with whom they come into contact.