Anyone may purchase a cow and drink its raw milk, but do the people of Wisconsin have a “right to purchase and drink raw milk”?
That’s what the losers in a recent Wisconsin Appeals Court case want to know, and they’ve petitioned the state Supreme Court to see if they can get their question answered.
It’s the latest scheme by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund to carve out some “rights” around food and thereby advance the food freedom movement. In their world, raw milk is one of pillars of that campaign.
Wisconsin prohibits the retail sale of raw milk because, until it’s pasteurized, milk may contain potentially harmful bacteria such as Campylobacter and E. coli O157:H7. But about 1 percent of all consumers think pasteurization also kills beneficial bacteria found in raw milk, and they believe there are health benefits derived from drinking it.
The case the Wisconsin Supreme Court is being asked to review was a two-for-one loss for raw-milk advocates because it was the result of two consolidated cases.
The decision being appealed to the high court resulted from the consolidation of two cases involving Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund plaintiffs. The combination of issues, however, did not result in the court offering any opinion on whether there is a right to purchase and drink unpasteurized milk in Wisconsin.
For the part of the case known for the “Zinniker plaintiffs,” the appeals court’s Aug. 7 decision upheld state agriculture’s revocation of the license of a Walworth County raw-milk dairy that was involved in a 2009 outbreak. The dairy then attempted to get around the license requirement with a limited liability corporation called “Nourished by Nature.”
State regulators called that arrangement a “sham,” and Farm-to-Consumer filed the lawsuit. The 4th District Appeals Court decision agreed with the trial court, finding that the distribution of raw milk without a state producer’s license is a crime.
“Even assuming that the members of Nourished by Nature have a right to consume unpasteurized milk, the Zinnikers do not have a legal right to operate a dairy farm as milk producers without a license,” the appeals court ruling stated.
In the part of the decision involving the “GrassWay plaintiffs,” both the facts and the outcome were similar. An organic farm store wanted to sell raw milk to members of an association who paid a fee to the store, but, under a producer’s license, the department said the store was not allowed to sell or distribute the product.© Food Safety News