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Clark County Proposes Milk Commission; Not Quite What Raw Milk Proponents Wanted

People who want raw milk to pair with their cereal can’t just pick it up at the grocery store in Las Vegas.

According to state law, although raw milk is legal in Nevada, the ability to sell the products rests in each county’s jurisdiction. County commission must create a regulatory dairy commission, consisting of a doctor, a veterinarian and a member of the community to oversee such production.

Nye County created such a commission last year, and Clark County may be following in its footsteps.

Last week, the commissioners took steps to vote on approving a milk commission. But it may not be exactly what raw milk seekers were after. For now, the regulatory commission would only oversee the production of raw goat’s milk – not cow’s milk.

Milk is usually sold after pasteurization, a familiar process that includes heating the raw milk and rapidly cooling it to ward off any unwanted bacteria. But some people want it just the way it comes out – raw and untouched.

Currently 12 states allow for full distribution and sale of raw milk, including all of Nevada’s surrounding western neighbors Utah, California and Arizona. And just because its illegal doesn’t mean that people aren’t getting it somehow.

Brett Ottolenghi supports allowing raw milk to be sold in Clark County. He says currently people who want it buy it in neighboring states and often bring it back without refrigeration.

He points out raw milk dairies in Nevada are already highly regulated and provide a clean product. The problem is getting in Clark County. 

"There are regulations on the books that allows for clean milk," Ottolenghi said, "I think people should be allowed to try raw milk."

"There are regulations on the books that allows for clean milk," Ottolenghi said, "I think people should be allowed to try raw milk."

Libby Lovig is a licensed dietician and the vice president of the Nevada Dairy Council. 

She doesn't recommend anyone drinking raw milk under any circumstances because she believes it is inherently risky.  

"Pathogens might be in the milk that you can't see in testing," Lovig said.


Although, she does believe that if there is a ground swell of support for raw milk then the dairy council would embrace its distribution in a safe manner.

However, she told KNPR's State of Nevada that educating people about the risks of raw milk is vital because even if milk is produced in a very clean dairy that follows all the regulations people, especially those who don't have a strong immune system like young children or the elderly, can get sick. 

County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani believes there needs to be a balance between rules that protect people and peoples's ability to make their own choices. 

"We should be safe but not overreaching," Giunchigliani said.

She thinks without allowing the product to be available in a safe way, it pushes the product into a black market.

The commissioner told KNPR's State of Nevada that bringing some sunshine to the issue will allow lawmakers to regulate raw milk in the right way. 


Chris Giunchigliani, District E, Clark County Commissioners

Brett Ottolenghi, Owner, Artisanal Foods

Libby Lovig, Licensed dietician, Nevada Dairy Council

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