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Man Accused of Violating Raw Milk Laws

E. Coli, salmonella, and listeria are just some of the fatal diseases we think about when we hear the words “raw milk.”

A Minnesota man has been accused of violating state raw milk laws. His attorney argues that he was simply the middle man within a group of people who were sharing their food.

The man, Alvin Schlangen, a central Minnesota organic egg producer, is charged with three misdemeanor counts that include handling adulterated food, distributing unpasteurized milk, and not possessing a food handler’s license. Minnesota law does not allow the sale of raw milk directly to consumers from the farm where it is produced.

On September 19, a Hennepin County jury began their deliberations in the case. After ninety minutes behind closed doors, the jurors recessed for the day.

Schlangen has contended that he does not sell milk. He says that his role is the operator of a private buying club that distributes the milk to the members of the group that mainly resides in the Twin Cities area. He said he is just the delivery guy and that the members he delivers to lease the cows from Amish farmers.

However, the Agriculture Department says the state’s restrictions on raw milk sales are a must to protect the public from deadly diseases.

This presents a large rift between groups that state raw milk provides health benefits that their families would not get due to the pasteurization process killing beneficial bacteria, nutrients, and enzymes. Allergy relief and the prevention of certain diseases are touted as two of the benefits. State officials, on the other hand, state that raw milk can carry dangerous pathogens that can lead to salmonella, E. coli, and listeria.

Schlangen’s attorney states that he does not operate a business, so he is not doing anything illegal. He contends that the group is a voluntary association of people who share food with one another. He said this is not a reason for Schlangen to have a food handler’s license and that the state law does not apply to him.

While it appears no one has become ill within the food sharing group, those on the other side of the argument state that those who would become sick could hold Schlangen and all parties involved responsible for the debilitating illnesses that result from unpasteurized milk.

The state is requesting a guilty verdict on all counts with a maximum penalty of $1,000 in fines and 90 days in jail.

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