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.