In the United States
Most states impose restrictions on raw milk suppliers due to concerns about safety. Every state but Pennsylvania, California, New York, and Maryland has passed the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance originally proposed by the United States Public Health Service in 1924. The most recent version is called the 2003 Grade "A" Pasteurized Milk Ordinance. All 50 states permit the sale of raw milk cheeses that are aged for at least 60 days.
Raw milk may be sold from the farm in 28 states under varying restrictions. In California, Connecticut, Maine, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and New Mexico it may be sold in stores. Washington State allows raw milk to be sold with restrictions. Some states allow raw milk to be sold "for animal consumption" only.
Although it is illegal in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio for a dairy to sell raw milk, consumers are able to lease part of a cow (a "cow share") or part of a herd (a "herd share") to obtain raw milk. In Michigan, for example, "milk groups" have been formed in which suburban families take turns travelling to a distant dairy farm to obtain the week's raw milk for all the members of the group.
The FDA reports that, in 2002, consuming raw milk and raw milk products caused 200 Americans to become ill in any manner. In comparison, a 1999 CDC report showed that consuming undercooked fish and shellfish causes approximately 8,000 cases of Vibrio illness annually,in addition to all cases of salmonella poisoning, Yersiniosis, Listeriosis, Hepatitis, Gastroenteritis, Diphyllobothriasis, and Nanophyetiasis.
Debate in the United States
Although agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and numerous other world-wide regulatory agencies say that pathogens from raw milk make it unsafe to consume, certain organizations such as the Weston A. Price Foundation in its "Real Milk" campaign say that raw milk has health benefits that get lost in the pasteurization process, and that raw milk can be produced hygienically.
In the state of Pennsylvania, ask for certification. The Pennsyvlania Department of Agriculture imposes strict controls on farms selling certified raw milk.