June 21, 2010
A story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune describes how several people were infected with the E. Coli bacteria after drinking unpasteurized (raw) milk bought directly from a Minnesota dairy. On the heels of this story I fielded a call from a Summer Associate who wanted to find the Minnesota law referenced in the article: “…raw milk is restricted to ‘occasional purchases directly at the farm where the milk is produced,’ Kassenborg said.” I believe I found the statute, M.S.A. s. 32.393. That brought up the question of whether other states have statutes or regulations on raw milk. I brought her to two databases, SURVEYS and REG-SURVEYS. These can be excellent databases to use, especially for Summer Associates who often times are given survey-type assignments. The databases compile statutes or regulations from states around the country that deal with a common subject. For example, there’s a Regulation Survey on smoking in indoor areas and a statutory survey on taxation of lottery and other gambling winnings.
Of course, there isn’t a survey on every subject, but there are many. I didn’t find one on raw milk, but here’s how I searched: I simply searched for the word ‘milk’ as my terms and connectors search, since with a fairly-unique word such as this you’re likely to get just a few results. You can scan the introductory paragraphs of the survey to see if the survey is on-point. Or, once you get to the search box for either database, you can click the “Table of Contents” link in the upper-right corner and scan the topics that way. Finally, let’s say you have a statute on the subject you’re concerned with, such as my Minnesota Statute 32.393. What I will do is simply run the statute number as my search term, with the assumption that if there was a survey on raw milk then assuredly such a survey would come up as a result of your search. Try these databases—you could potentially spare yourself many hours of research.