Raw Milk Drinkers Skirt the Law

The milk carton in your refrigerator carries the word "pasteurized."

Rather than seeing it as a sign of protection, some consumers say it's one more way our food is over processed.

They take their milk straight from the cow.

Newschannel 7 looks at the argument for raw milk.

Raw milk is nothing new. It’s been flowing from farms for centuries.

However, whether it should be legal is a political issue that pits consumer rights, against food safety.

It's part of many breakfasts; a cold glass of milk. But some milk is actually illegal.

"I think it’s just the same as eating raw oysters or eating undercooked meat."

A mom we spoke to, we’ll call her Sarah, doesn't want her real name used because she serves her family raw milk; something she says boosts her children's immune system and keeps them healthy.

However, it's against the law in Florida to sell raw milk for human consumption.

Sarah has to go out of her way to get her hands on it. "I think it's silly to be worrying about people drinking raw milk versus someone smoking a cigarette or eating an oyster. There are more important things out there besides cracking down on people for drinking raw milk."

If a dairy farm is found to be selling raw milk for human consumption, the farmer is warned and then can be fined.

At Mosier's Family Farm in Cottondale, all rules are followed, but the only kind of milk that flows from this dairy is raw.

"We sell milk to a wholesale company, to a co-op, and we have some for animal consumption," Walter Mosier said.

There lies the loophole in the law.

As long as farmers have a license to sell animal feed and have a sticker on the milk they sell stating it's "not fit for human consumption", the milk can leave the dairy without being pasteurized.

Raw milk advocates then take it home, serve it to their children and drink it themselves.

"Personally, I would not give it to my pet," said Dr. Marjorie Moore, Ph.D.

Dr. Moore works for the University of Florida’s Bay County Extension Office, focusing on food safety..

"The bottom line with raw milk is don't drink it. Since its illegal in Florida and you're more likely to become ill," Dr. Moore said.

She says raw milk can contain deadly bacteria like listeria, salmonella, and e-coli, which is only killed by pasteurization, a process that quickly heats the milk.

However, it's that process that consumers like Sarah don't want. When it comes to milk, they say it's more nutritious if it's straight from the cow. "When you pasteurize milk, it kills off all the good bacteria along with the bad ones."

Sarah claims drinking raw milk has helped cut her family doctor visits by half, but scientists argue drinking it can end up sending you to the doctor.

"If they're elderly, if they're young, if their immune system is compromised, they're putting themselves in more danger."

Milk laws differ from state to state.

Those laws are constantly changing, as groups on both sides of the issue spend lots of money lobbying politicians.

For a closer look at that map, and more information on the raw milk controversy, visit the News Links section of WJHG.com.

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