Advocates rally for right to drink raw milk
State regulations regarding the sale of raw milk are again gaining attention in Madison.
Advocates of consumers’ right to decide for themselves what they want to drink were at the State Capitol on Wednesday to rally for support of legislation allowing farmers to sell raw milk to those asking for the product.
They say state and federal officials have been too aggressive in enforcing raw milk rules in Wisconsin, where the sales are largely illegal except for the occasional “incidental” transaction when someone asks a farmer for a jug of milk.
Advocates for raw milk say it contains nutrients, enzymes and bacteria that are good for you. They also say the number of people sickened by it is minuscule compared with those sickened from other foods, including fruits and meat.
Supporters of the law restricting raw milk sales say consumers can’t tell if raw milk is safe to drink by looking at, smelling or tasting it.
Even under ideal conditions of cleanliness, collecting milk introduces some bacteria. Unless the milk is pasteurized, these bacteria can multiply and grow in the milk and cause illness.
Pasteurization involves heating milk to kill disease-causing bacteria.
Among the opponents to legislation legalizing raw-milk sales, the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation said the risks of raw milk sales outweigh the benefits.
Regardless of the debate, raw milk sales account for about 3 percent of the nation’s milk consumption.