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West Virginia Lawmakers Loosen Raw Milk Regulations, Get Stomach Bug

BRANDYWINE, MD - OCTOBER 30: Sally Fallon Morell and husband GeBRANDYWINE, MD - OCTOBER 30: Sally Fallon Morell and husband Ge
Sally Fallon Morell and husband Geoffrey produce raw milk, raw cheese and other foods on their farm in Brandywine, MD, October 30, 2015. Photograph by Astrid Riecken—The Washington Post /Getty Images

West Virginia health officials are investigating whether state lawmakers got sick from drinking raw milk in a toast to a law loosening restrictions on the product.

The West Virginia state legislature passed a law allowing residents to create raw milk-sharing agreements last week, according to the Associated Press. Under the law, distributing and selling raw milk would still be illegal, due to the potential public health risks of bacteria in untreated milk.

After passing the bill, Delegate Scott Cadle invited lawmakers who wanted to “live dangerously” to sample cups of raw milk. Many of those who took Cadle up on his offer—including Cadle himself—spent the weekend with an intestinal virus, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

“It ain’t because of the raw milk,” Cadle told the Post-Gazette after spending Monday at home with the bug. “With that many people around and that close quarters and in that air and environment, I just call it a big germ. All that Capitol is is a big germ.”

 

The West Virginia Bureau of Public Health has opened an investigation into the cause of the illness, and state health officials are investigating whether someone distributed the raw milk illegally, according to the AP.

Most milk is pasteurized in order to kill harmful bacteria, and the Food and Drug Administration says pasteurized milk and raw milk have no significant nutritional differences.