Raw Milk Consumption Leads to E. Coli in Missouri

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Five people, including two young children in Central Missouri sickened with the same strand of E. coli.  Health officials say the only common link between the three cases in Boone County is the consumption of raw milk.

Now, the dangers and benefits of drinking unpasteurized milk are again up for debate. Milk is said to do a body good.  But while the government and nutritionists like Karen Elliott say it's benefits are safe only after the pasteurization process, raw milk producers disagree.

"Pasteurization heats the milk up very quickly, killing the dangerous bacteria that's in it," says Elliott.

Milk sold in any Kansas or Missouri grocery store is put through a pasteurization process that kills bacteria that causes diseases.  Unpasteurized milk can only be sold right from the farm.  Producers of raw milk say pasteurizing milk kills everything that's good for you leaving you dead milk.

"Anytime you process something you are going to lose some amount of the original nutrients but you are also losing the bacteria.  So which are you wanting to gamble with?" says Elliott.

Rachel Moser says she'll take her chances with raw milk.

"There's way more natural vitamins in unprocessed raw milk.  And vitamin D you can get from the sun.  So to add in, often time synthetic vitamins because you just destroyed the product, I have a problem with that " Moser says. Moser and her husband run a local farm that produces 22 gallons of raw milk a day.  The milk comes straight from the cow, strained and cooled.

"The issues with illnesses that started the need for pasteurization, that was all caused by the environment that we moved the cows into.  We pulled cows off the farm, pulled them into inner cities, the cows were knee-high in their own manure and then we wondered why people were getting sick" Moser says.

"I personally don't want to take those risks, says Elliot.

Moser admits there are dangers in any raw product consumed and says it's important to have a relationship with your local farmer and know your body and health.
While health officials are still trying to determine where the outbreak originated they say raw milk is a dangerous risk.

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