Dear Editor,

I read with interest your well-researched article, “Unpacking the controversy, health risks and legal landscape of raw milk in Canada” on the Canadian raw milk debate. Your article summarized the current debate well but missed a few important points as well as the consumer perspective.

Consumers wish to be treated with respect. Health Canada should not be deciding for us whether the benefits of raw milk outweigh the risks. This should be a personal decision as it is for many legal products that are risky for our health (i.e., tobacco, alcohol, junk food). Why are warnings sufficient for these products while raw milk is banned? Raw milk is legal in almost every other country. In the U.S., most states allow legal access, including retail sales in 12 states. Canadians can buy raw milk in a U.S. retail store and bring it back – legally. But if a Canadian farmer sells us raw milk, they can be fined up to $250,000 or sentenced to three years in jail. In British Columbia, the penalty is up to $3 million or three years in jail for producers and consumers. This makes no sense to us.

Legalization, together with education and appropriate regulation, will reduce risk more than the current ban that drives production underground and is being ignored. A more sensible and effective risk reduction approach should include:

  • Special licences for producing raw milk for direct human consumption and regulations that ensure farmers are trained in safe production and food handling. The Raw Milk Institute of California provides free training.
  • Milk should also be regularly tested for bacteria counts and pathogens. A U.S. study published in March 2024, shows legalization has led to increased consumption but not increased illnesses. This study shows that raw milk became safer once it was legal and regulated.
  • Education for physicians on what to look for and how to treat raw milk food poisoning. Currently, patients may be afraid to say they consumed raw milk for fear they or their farmer will be charged, resulting in delayed diagnosis and counterproductive treatments leading to more severe illness than would occur if patients were not afraid to speak up.
  • Education for consumers of the potential risks and how to avoid them. Some consumers wrongly believe they can’t get sick from raw milk.

A ban accompanied by warnings for consumers and heavy fines for farmers may deter some, but let me assure you, there is a thriving and growing raw milk market in Canada, despite the ban. By driving raw milk sales underground, Health Canada has increased the risk to consumers.


Our dairy industry benefits from mandatory pasteurization which eliminates competition from non-quota farmers and “cheaters” selling excess milk directly to consumers. In Canada, the dairy industry has actively worked against the legalization of raw milk, even though some dairy farmers would love to provide it to consumers.

In other countries, dairy farmers have worked with consumers to make raw milk legal to meet the growing demand. It is ironic that dairy farmers are the only Canadians who are legally allowed to consume raw milk.


Eva Kralits

Director, National Advocacy

Canadian Artisan Dairy Alliance