Citizens state their case for legal raw milk in Jefferson City, Missouri

This story is excerpted from the Springfield Missouri NewsLeader.com:

Armand Bechard (right) of Conway challenges members of the State Milk Board to compare the results of pasteurized milk and raw milk after sitting out for one week during Tuesday's meeting. (Charles Ludeke / for the News-Leader)

“Jefferson City — The movement to consume raw milk instead of pasteurized dairy products is as much about personal freedom as the supposed health benefits.

That was the message raw milk advocates gave the Missouri State Milk Board during a meeting Tuesday in the capital city.

“There is a risk, admittedly. But there’s a risk in walking the street or flying in an airplane,” said Bill McBrayer, 80, of Wheatland. “I believe we should have the right to personally decide if we wish to take that risk.”

More than 50 people showed up for the State Milk Board’s monthly meeting to speak about the benefits of consuming raw milk and unpasteurized dairy products.

Most raw milk producers and consumers in attendance were from southwest Missouri.

It also was a show of support for Armand and Teddi Bechard of Conway, who are being sued by the State Milk Board and Attorney General Chris Koster after their daughters sold raw milk to undercover Springfield-Greene County health department employees last year.

Armand Bechard addressed the board but did not speak about the ongoing litigation.

The milk board mostly comprises commercial dairy producers and health inspectors who believe in pasteurizing milk by reducing pathogens in the liquid.

Bechard challenged pasteurized producers to take a gallon of their milk and a gallon of his and put them in a “locked box” on a kitchen counter for a week.

“And we’ll come back one week later, and I’ll drink or eat whatever my milk has become, if you’ll do the same,” Bechard told the board, drawing laughter from the audience. “My milk is a living organism, and it’ll become yogurt or a form of a cheese. But it will still be safe to eat in a week.”

“I don’t think your pasteurized milk will do that,” Bechard added.

No member of the milk board took Bechard up on his offer.

The Food and Drug Administration urges against consuming raw milk, saying it can cause gastrointestinal disease.

Most commercial dairy producers are against the unregulated sale of raw milk because they fear if anyone got sick from it, the pasteurized milk industry would suffer from the bad publicity and confusion….”

Read the rest of this story and see all the photos on the NewsLeader.com

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