Wis. advocates fight for right to buy raw milk

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Should consumers have the right to buy raw milk, even if it could sicken them? That’s what Wisconsin raw dairy supporters are now asking, urging government officials to rethink raw milk sales in the state.

“Even people who are antagonistic toward the idea of consuming it themselves feel like others ought to have the right,” Margo Redmond, spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Raw Milk Association, said in an interview with the Portage Daily Register.  

Wisconsin has been at the center of the raw milk debate since 2010, when the state Legislature passed a bill implementating limited raw milk sales. It was later vetoed by former Governor Jim Doyle.

A recent poll sponsored by The Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research showed that Americans may tend to agree. Seventy-four percent of poll participants were strongly or somewhat opposed to limiting the types or amounts of foods and drinks that people can purchase.  However, Jim Dick, spokesman for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, points that his agency is required to enforce – not write – the laws.

In addition, Dick notes that raw milk isn’t without increased risk of infection.

“The risk of illness associated with raw milk consumption is widely documented by the scientific and medical communities,” Dick told the Register. “At the same time, some consumers may feel the level of risk is acceptable, or is lower in particular situations. Those are the kinds of issues that were debated by lawmakers at that time, which resulted in the current law regarding raw milk.”

Read, “Raw dairy backers continue push for legislative action.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agrees with Dick. In 2012, it released a study that found that raw dairy is 150 times more likely to cause an illness outbreak than pasteurized milk. Read the study here.  So far in 2013,at least 7 people in Missouri – including two toddlers – have been sickened by E. coli and Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC) by raw dairy products.

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OH  |  January, 24, 2013 at 08:50 AM

Before anyone thinks of giving raw milk to their families they need to read this. “There’s just an inherit risk in feeding your children raw milk that you can’t ― you can’t ― ignore." That’s what one mother told Oregon Public Broadcasting this week. Jill, who asked not to be identified on-air, described the ordeal that her two-year-old daughter has had to endure since becoming sick from raw milk. "She had strokes early on and pressure in the brain, and most recently had emergency surgery to remove some dead bowel and colon. And now has an ostomy, that will get reversed in six to eight weeks," Jill told OPB News. ... For Jill, who will be celebrating Mother’s Day beside her daughter’s hospital bed, the risks outweigh the benefits. “No matter how good of a farmer and how good of a dairy operation you think they have, there’s always a slim chance that there’s going to be bacteria in that [raw] milk. The only way to make sure there’s not that chance is by pasteurization. And there’s going to be more outbreaks,” she said in the interview. “To watch my daughter struggle for her life for 28 days so far, it’s not worth it.” http://www.dairyherd.com/e-newsletters/dairy-daily/Mother-warns-against-feeding-raw-milk-to-children-150964065.html

PA  |  January, 24, 2013 at 12:37 PM

If people insist on risking their health on raw milk, they should not be elligible for health service benefits from government or insurance sources, if they become necessary to treat health problems resulting from the consumption of such risky products.

OH  |  January, 29, 2013 at 10:04 PM

There are MANY risky things in life that put people in danger. I have seen MANY children killed and maimed from riding in a vehicle. Should we ban vehicles or deny people health benefits because of this risky chance people take riding in vehicles?? I am a dairy farmer and I am fed up with this whole raw milk deal. We live in a constitutional based republic where people have freedoms-NO ONE has a right to tell others what they can or can not eat. People need to mind their own business and let others be-this entire issue is absurb and should not even be taking place.. Let people consume what they want and keep your nose out of their lives-they have a right to make their own decisions.

CA  |  February, 01, 2013 at 10:14 PM

The CDC just published a 10-year study on Food Borne Illnesses in the United States. So this study should show just how dangerous raw milk is, correct? There has to be some facts and figures somewhere justifying all these legal cases against raw milk producers and distributors, correct? Actually, no. Here is what the CDC's own facts determined were the most dangerous foods in America: More illnesses were attributed to leafy vegetables (22%) than to any other commodity; illnesses associated with leafy vegetables were the second most frequent cause of hospitalizations (14%) and the fifth most frequent cause of death (6%). So more people get sick from raw spinach and leafy vegetables than any other food. OK, but leafy green vegetables only came in fifth in deaths, so raw milk must be number 1, right? Nope. More deaths were attributed to poultry (19%) than to any other commodity, and most poultry- associated deaths were caused by Listeria or Salmonella spp. Indeed, more dairy is consumed than vegetables and poultry and does account for a lot of food borne illnesses, but even the CDC admits that these illnesses are due to commercial milk production that includes the pasteurization process: The dairy commodity was the second most frequent food source for infections causing illnesses (14%) and deaths (10%). Foods in this commodity are typically consumed after pasteurization. So as you read about all these dangers of raw milk, just remember the CDC's own data shows that whatever real risk does exist in relation to consuming raw milk, that it is nothing compared to the risk you take every time you visit your local supermarket to purchase legal foods the government regulates and declares "safe."

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