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Our View: Government intrusion stirs milk

Published: Thursday, April 10, 2014 5:30 a.m. CST

State Rep. Dan Burke, D-Chicago, has introduced a bill to ban raw milk in Illinois.

As of now, raw milk can be bought in Illinois only if it is done directly from a farmer.

There are numerous potential health risks when it comes to drinking raw milk. If the milk comes from a cow infected with brucellosis, a human consuming it can develop undulant fever, which can result in several weeks of severe flu-like symptoms.

The Food and Drug Administration lists listeria as a potential risk from consuming raw milk, along with vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Pregnant women run a serious risk of becoming ill from listeria, which can cause miscarriage, fetal death or illness or death of a newborn.

Raw milk advocates say those ailments are rare, and pasteurization – heating milk to kill harmful bacteria – also kills or damages essential nutrients. Some say raw milk tastes better. The Price Foundation – an organization dedicated to “restoring nutrient-dense foods to the American diet through education, research and activism” – believes it helps boost people’s immune system.

It’s important to note that the potential side effects from drinking raw milk aren’t going to cause an outbreak of these ailments. This isn’t a public health crisis, so why does Burke think the government should get involved?

We’re allowed to make our own decisions on what we consume – no matter how harmful what we consume might be. We’re allowed to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol, and we fully know the risks involved with that. Why should raw milk be any different?

The answer is it shouldn’t. The Illinois General Assembly has enough on its plate, chief among it our state’s financial crisis. Finish that ever-growing meal first before trying to wash it down with the milk of your choice.

People should be allowed to make informed decisions for themselves regarding what they consume – undulant fever and all.

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