Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Legislature goes after re-pasteurized milk—your testimony needed

by Larry Geller

Two essentially identical resolutions (HR31 and HCR72) have been introduced by Representatives Tom Brower, Joey Mananahan, and John Mizuno (Title: Urging the United States Department of Health and Human Services and State Department of Health to ascertain the safety of repasteurized unrefrigerated milk shipped to Hawaii from the Mainland). 

This is the first action I have seen on a long-standing problem with Hawaii’s milk. It’s good news, but these resos need support.

You can bet that the milk industry will strongly oppose this initiative

The resolutions will be heard on Friday, February 12, 2010, and your testimony is needed or this will be killed by the dairy industry. Of course they will oppose it. Take a look at the price of a gallon of milk in the store and imagine the profit margin. The farmer gets very little of that sticker price. Check some of the links below as a help in writing your testimony.

See the end of the article for how to submit testimony. 

scarydairy These resos are an excellent beginning to work on a long-standing food safety issue—milk shipped here from the Mainland to be sold in supermarkets is shipped unrefrigerated, and so it has to be repasteurized. Sure, any little buggers that grew up in the milk on the way here will be killed, but you know what they were doing in there during the long trip to Hawaii. And you shouldn’t have to drink bacteria pee. I certainly don’t want to.

Hawaii is the only state that permits this.

Here’s a snip from one of the resolutions:

WHEREAS, as the milk makes its way over to Hawaii, taking over a week to ship, and close to a month from milking to placement on the shelves according to the State Department of Agriculture (DOA), it is stored in huge tanks that are unrefrigerated as long as the temperature at the plant is below 45 degrees, then is repasteurized upon arrival in Hawaii, before it is bottled and placed on the store shelves; and

     WHEREAS, a DOA study found that milk sold on Oahu exceeded federal regulatory limits for bacterial counts five days prior to expiration; and

     WHEREAS, consumers frequently find that imported milk spoils before the stamped expiration date

Problem is well documented

An article in Honolulu Magazine by food writer Joan Namkoong was probably the first revelation of this public health problem. I first wrote about this in October, 2005 in Scary Dairy -- Frightening food news for Halloween and then again on November 15, 2005 in a followup, Scary Dairy revisited - Costco and organic milk probably ok.

After preliminary details of a UH study were released, the Advertiser ran Bacteria levels souring Hawai'i milk? by Sean Hao on June 3, 2007:

Most milk from the Mainland is repasteurized, or reprocessed, before being sold to consumers. That adds about eight days to the age of imported Mainland milk, which can be between 25 to 30 days old by the time it reaches its shelf expiration date.

"It is unlikely that any state in the nation sees 25- to 30-day milk from a cow (to) consumer unless it was ultrapasteurized," [UH dairy extension specialist Chin] Lee said. "However, no law is broken because none exist. There is no limit in terms of how long you can keep milk on the shelf to sell."

I wrote The rest of the story on Oahu's spoiled milk on June 15, 2007. A KITV video from October, 2007 highlighted both the food safety issue and the high cost of milk in Hawaii at the point of purchase.

Ok, ok. Let’s do something about this

Now here is how you can help, and please do. It’s very simple to submit testimony these days. Write something. The above links will be handy to steal from.

The hearing notice has instructions, or just submit what you wrote from this web page: You can put the same testimony in for both resolutions, just put both numbers in your testimony. Less work. When you go to send the testimony, just give it both reso numbers (HR31 and HCR72) one at a time. The web page takes care of everything.


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