In Europe, it’s put your money in, get your raw milk out

In Europe, buying raw milk can be as simple as putting some money in a vending machine and filling a bottle.

“In all of Europe you will find some form of milk machine,” said Sylvia Onusic, a nutritionist and food writer. The phenomenon started in Switzerland, and each European country establishes its own rules regarding vending sales. Italy alone has more than 1,300 such machines, she told attendees at the recent International Raw Milk Symposium in Madison, Wisconsin.

Slovenia, where Onusic worked for several years, recently dedicated its first such vending machine in the capital of Ljubljana at a ceremony attended by a representative of the country’s agriculture ministry. The small country now has more than 25 milk dispensing units.

While the specifics of the machines and arrangements vary, Onusic said they are usually located in town centers and main shopping areas. Customers often can purchase a container and then fill it with cold, raw milk from the same machine at any time of day or night.

Many vending machines are owned and operated by licensed farmers who provide only their own milk. In some cases, farmers can receive streaming updates of milk temperature over their cell phones. Government inspectors have cards allowing them to enter the machines and inspect premises at any time.

A video Onusic presented at the International Raw Milk Symposium showed a Slovenian farmer rolling at small bulk tank on wheels into a vending machine, and rolling out the previous tank.

“Europe would not accept” the raw milk situation as it currently exists in the U.S., Onusic asserted. “I hope our situation will change in the U.S.”