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Illinois new raw milk rules get first legislative tests

Staff Writer |
Three bills introduced into the Illinois General Assembly loosen up cottage food sales and promote farmers markets, but apparently are not intended to alter the state’s new raw milk law.

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Illinois in 2016 aligned itself with the surrounding states of Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin by prohibiting any retail sales of milk without pasteurization. On-farm sales are permitted under new regulations.

Raw milk cheese aged 60 days can be sold under a separate permit, but sales of other unpasteurized raw milk products are also prohibited, Food Safety News reports.

Three bills, two in the House and one in the Senate, have been introduced in Springfield, making changes for farmers markets and cottage food producers.

All three measures, with very similar language, have been assigned to committees.

All three call for establishing a state Farmers Market Task Force “to address farmers market vendor complaints regarding the reasonableness of local health departments” fee and sanitation provisions.”

The proposals also call for providing farmers market vendors with “effective means to maintain potentially hazardous food at a specific temperature.”

That language is apparently intended to allow vendors to use ice chests to keep food cold. Currently refrigerators are required.

Lawmakers are also promising the legislation will ease regulations on the sale of raw or unprocessed milk, but the bills appear to fall short of doing that, at least as introduced.

All three are susceptible to such amendments, though, as they go through the legislative process.

Language in the bills also calls for making it possible for hand-washing stations to be shared by farmers market vendors.

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