HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) warned the public not to drink unpasteurized goat milk and said an embargo on raw milk products went into effect on Friday, July 2.
The DOH said its Health Food Safety Branch inspectors will visit pet supply stores and food retailers to issue cease and desist orders to anyone who illegally sells unpasteurized goat milk.
DOH officials reported close to 20 pet stores on Oahu were selling unpasteurized goat milk products as of Thursday, July 1. Only Grade A pasteurized milk and milk products are legal to sell to consumers or restaurants under Hawaii law, according to the DOH.
“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. There are many in our community that mistakenly believe that drinking raw milk is healthy, but this is simply untrue.”Peter Oshiro, chief of the Food Safety Branch
Any store or retailer that has raw milk must remove the product from their shelfs immediately and must destroy or return it to their supplier, the DOH said. The consumption of unpasteurized milk can result in serious illnesses, hospitalizations and death.
Officials said pathogens like E. coli, salmonella and other bacteria are often found in unpasteurized milk. These bacteria can be especially dangerous to keiki, kupuna and those with weakened immune systems.
The DOH Food Safety Branch is conducting inspections of retailers and pet food stores on Friday and said those that are found in violation can face fines of up to $10,000 per day and seizure of the illegal product.