Jury finds Minn. farmer not guilty in raw milk trial

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A Minnesota man has been being acquitted of charges stemming from the state’s restrictions on raw milk sales.

Raw milk supporters hail the decision as a victory for consumer freedom, but state officials suggest that the decision does not eliminate the risks involved with raw milk consumption.

Alvin Schlangen, an organic egg producer, had been charged with distributing raw milk, operating without a food handler's license and handling adulterated food, according to a report from the Associated Press. The defense argued that Schlangen, who doesn’t produce milk on his farm, was the middleman for a voluntary and legal association of consumers who lease cows from nearby Amish farms.

After more than four hours of deliberation, a jury found Schlangen not guilty on all three counts. 

Schlangen’s supporters claimed a victory for food freedom.

Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) officials also responded to the verdict through a statement available here.

“This narrow ruling does not wipe away the fact that many children and adults have gotten dangerously sick from consuming raw milk. It also does not wipe away the other legal rulings that have upheld MDA enforcement actions. Protecting the integrity of our food supply remains our top priority, and Minnesotans expect us to do that job using modern science and the law as our guide. We will continue to work in their best interests,” the statement said.

Read more here.

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Brad James    
Vancouver  |  September, 21, 2012 at 12:53 PM

I don't get the government's war on raw milk. It's just as bad up here in Canada btw. If you've ever been to a farm for any period of time or lived or worked on a farm you've probably drunk raw milk, and done so without incident. Believe me if you haven't drunk raw milk you don't know what you're missing. It's a wonderful drink. Gives you a feeling of physical well being you just don't get from the big dairy slop you're forced to buy in grocery stores. As far as safety's concerned all you have to do to ensure raw milk is safe is feed the cow properly and draw milk from a healthy cow in sanitary conditions. I lived on a farm outside Saskatoon for a while and drinking raw milk was just a normal part of your day. It sure made working long hours easier. Unfortunately these days with the government's raw milk witch hunt pretty much the only people drinking raw milk are people living or working on farms. Canada and the U.S. are bizarre exceptions though. Millions of people around the world have been drinking raw milk for thousands of years. If it were poisonous as the governments maintains it would have been eliminated from the diet long ago. And what about alcohol and tobacco? Those are proven dangerous products They're implicated directly or indirectly in the deaths, injury sickening and suffering of thousands of people every year. Cost communities and families billions in health care and other related expenses. If it's about public safety why doesn't the government ban those two products?

OH  |  September, 24, 2012 at 09:07 AM

Brad here's why. "From 1998 through 2009, 93 outbreaks due to consumption of raw milk or raw milk products were reported to CDC. These resulted in 1,837 illnesses, 195 hospitalizations, and 2 deaths. Most of these illnesses were caused by Escherichia coli, Campylobacter, or Salmonella. It is important to note that a substantial proportion of the raw milk-associated disease burden falls on children; among the 93 raw dairy product outbreaks from 1998 to 2009, 79% involved at least one person younger than 20 years old." http://www.cdc.gov/Features/rawmilk/

Ohio  |  September, 24, 2012 at 09:10 AM

My dad and grandfather and uncles have drank raw milk ever since they were little and never got sick. I also drink it and never even got the squirts. Its the best drink in the world. People dont know what they are missing! Plus it builds a great immune system!

Barbara Troester    
Pennsylvania  |  September, 24, 2012 at 09:47 AM

My family and I have been drinking raw milk for years. I was raised on a dairy farm, married a dairy farmer, so I know nothing better than a good cold glass of raw milk. I remember when going to school, we had to drink that darn pasteurized stuff and needless to say I hated it. I have been told that pasteurization takes a lot of the good nutrients that we need out of the milk and pasteurized milk is much harder for our body to digest. Another item that disturbs me is giving these school children milk with less fat content. They claim there is too much obesity among the kids now a days, well in my opinion it is not the milk that is making them obese. It is the lack of activity and work. Sitting in front of the TV and Computer does not require much energy. My grandson says the milk they get with their school lunch is like drinking colored water. What a shame and a good way to turn kids away from drinking the most nutritous drink.

Ron Gruber Dhia Field Tech    
Freeport Mn  |  September, 24, 2012 at 11:13 AM

Drinking cold raw milk is very nutritious and healthy for you. Builds strong bones.

New York  |  September, 24, 2012 at 05:58 PM

I too was raised on a dairy farm and my husband and I run a dairy now. However I really disloike the taste of raw milk and will only drink pasteurized milk. If one wants to drink raw milk more power to them but they shouldn't fall for the disinformation that surrounds the use of raw milk. Raw milk is the same nutritive value as pasteurized milk. We have been approached by some town residents about selling milk we will not. Although we have very low SCC and bacteria counts, it only takes a tiny bit of contamination to bring on a problem. It would be wise to remember that the very characteristics that make milk extremely nutritious for us also make it the perfect medium for bacterial and viral growth/.

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