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Published March 05, 2010, 07:34 AM

What we think: Raw-milk decisions belong to consumers

Legislators are considering changing laws this year relating to the sale of raw milk — and we agree they should modify them.

Legislators are considering changing laws this year relating to the sale of raw milk — and we agree they should modify them.

Raw milk supporters say pasteurization destroys important nutrients and enzymes while public health officials say unpasteurized milk carries a higher risk for bacterial contamination, which can lead to illness and death.

Pasteurization is the process of heating milk or other food products to destroy bacteria and give them extended shelf lives.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1,500 people grew ill from drinking raw milk between 1993 and 2006. Of them, 185 were hospitalized and two died.

That number could be higher, the CDC said, because not all food-borne illnesses are reported.

Retail sales of raw milk are allowed in nine states, according to The Associated Press. Nineteen states allow the sale of raw milk from a farm directly to an individual.

Like most decisions, we think this one belongs to the consumer.

To us, raw milk has no more danger than recent scares involving peanut butter or frozen pizza, and the public is allowed to ingest either of those. If lawmakers are concerned about the two deaths attributed to raw milk in 13 years, they should first consider the 443,000 deaths CDC attributes to smoking every year.

Research shows raw milk does carry a risk — so perhaps a food label explaining those risks is an appropriate compromise.

We’re not advocating for raw milk, nor do we oppose it. We’re just saying consumers should make those choices, not the government.

(Editorials are the opinion of Jamestown Sun management and the newspaper’s editorial board)

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