Raw Milk: An issue of Safety or Freedom?
One need not look far to grasp the scope of this country’s food safety problems, and the personal devastation that can happen when somebody is infected by E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, or any other foodborne pathogen. Stephanie Smith, who, at the time of her illness, was a 19-year-old dance instructor from Cold Springs, Minnesota, suffered an E. coli O157:H7-hemolytic uremic syndrome illness so severe that it left her paralyzed. And Linda Rivera, who was sickened from contaminated Nestle cookie dough, was just flown from a Las Vegas Hospital to a long-term rehabilitation center after almost a year-long hospitalization from her own E. coli O157:H7 infection.
But there is one particular food product that has become as much a political issue as it is an issue of food safety. It has been the source of fierce legislative battles throughout the country; an endlessly interesting topic for bloggers and traditional media alike; and the ultimate source of a number of major personal injury cases. It is raw milk—an unpasteurized, back-to-our-roots fluid milk product that, despite its seemingly benign persona, has raised questions about unwarranted and unconstitutional government intrusion into private affairs, and how best to spite the government’s regulatory efforts.
According to the founding documents of the United States, personal liberties are self-evident and inalienable rights, not privileges endowed by state health departments, federal bureaucracies, or personal injury lawyers. There is no scientific evidence to justify the singling out of raw milk from among other foods for prohibition or damaging regulation, and there is no legitimate constitutional or philosophical basis on which Americans or anyone else should be deprived of the basic human right to determine what to eat and drink. See http://realmilk.com/documents/ResponsetoMarlerListofStudies.pdf.
[t]he powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.The Federalist No. 45, pp. 292-293 (C. Rossiter ed. 1961).
Truly, to call a cow share agreement a species of legal maneuvering may be giving too much credit to an effort that is designed either to flout the law entirely, or at the very least avoid the often stringent requirements associated with licensure. In reality, cow shares are poorly disguised attempts to accomplish something that is, in most states, patently criminal. As a result, when judging whether such conduct constitutes the sale or distribution of raw milk, courts are likely to approach these cases with a healthy dose of realism in determining what the parties' true intent was, whether the forum be civil or criminal court. See http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2009/11/skirting-the-law-with-cow-share-agreements/