Farmer acquitted in raw milk trial
Published 9:10 am Friday, September 21, 2012
MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota man charged with violating the state’s restrictions on raw milk sales was acquitted Thursday in what he and his supporters called a victory for consumer freedom.
Alvin Schlangen, an organic egg producer from central Minnesota, was charged with three misdemeanor counts of distributing unpasteurized milk, operating without a food handler’s license and handling adulterated food. Minnesota law prohibits raw milk sales except directly to consumers on the farm when it’s produced.
The three-man, three-woman jury deliberated for about 4 1/2 hours before returning not guilty verdicts on all three counts in Hennepin County District Court.
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“This is a huge victory for food freedom,” said Schlangen’s attorney, Nathan Hansen, who told the jury in closing arguments Wednesday that Schlangen did nothing illegal.
Raw milk consumers and government regulators disagree sharply on whether unpasteurized milk is a healthy food with significant benefits for their families or a dangerous product that can cause serious and potentially deadly diseases such as E. coli, salmonella, listeria and campylobacter.