Recently, a group of West Virginia lawmakers passed a bill making it legal for West Virginians to consume raw milk and dairy products. At least one delegate brought in raw milk for the legislators, who cheerfully toasted to their victory.
Now, the state’s Department of Health has received an anonymous tip that the raw milk caused a vicious stomach bug, debilitating many of those same lawmakers. State health officials are investigating what West Virginia lawmakers say is probably just a coincidence.
“Some other colleagues that have similar symptoms that I’ve been experiencing,” said Republican Delegate Pat McGeehan. “[Delegate Scott Cadle] caught me in the hallway, offered a cup to me, and you want to try to be a gentleman…I had a small sip and walked away and tossed the rest of it.”
Raw milk advocates claim the beverage contains more nutrients, vitamins, and is a more ethical product. Yet few people now deny that raw dairy products can be very hazardous to public health.
The Food and Drug Administration “strongly discourages raw milk consumption due to the serious dangers of harmful microorganisms present in unpasteurized milk.” Plus, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in all dairy product-related outbreaks reported between 2007 and 2012, fully 81% of the incidents involved raw milk or cheeses.
Typically, raw dairy products are pasteurized before being sold to the public. Most often, the milk is heated or subjected to high pressures, killing the dangerous microorganisms that can live in dairy items.
Still, even though raw dairy can be dangerous, West Virginia lawmakers and others say that prohibition is not the answer. Alcohol and tobacco are dangerous, and can still be bought by adults who understand the risks.
It’s a free country, and at least in West Virginia, that means the freedom to drink raw, unpasteurized milk.
Just be prepared to stomach the consequences.
Image Source: WSAZ