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Ozarks Couple Sued For Selling Raw Milk Outside Store

Attorney General Chris Koster has filed a lawsuit against an Ozarks couple for allegedly selling raw milk in the parking lot of a Springfield natural foods store. KSMU’s Jennifer Moore reports.

“Raw” milk is milk that has not been through the heating process of pasteurization. In the Show-Me State, it’s illegal to sell and distribute raw milk and cream at a grocery store, convenience mart, or farmers’ market. A person has to request it directly from a farm.

According to Koster’s office, Armand and Teddi Bechard of the Bechard Family Farm, sold raw milk to two undercover investigators with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department outside MaMa Jean’s Natural Market in Springfield.

Co-owner of MaMa Jean’s, Diana Hicks, told KSMU she had no idea the Bechards had tried to sell raw milk in her parking lot. Had she known that, she said, she would have asked them to leave.

People who drink and sell raw milk say its health benefits are far superior to pasteurized milk. But studies have linked raw milk to gastrointestinal disease, including E.coli contamination.

Koster says he filed the lawsuit after the Bechards refused to sign a consent judgment requiring them to abide by the raw milk statute. “The law says that you can’t sell raw milk from a public place. And the legislature has not said that raw milk cannot be sold in the state, but there has to be a level of attentiveness and understanding, that the purchaser knows exactly what they are buying,” Koster said.

Teddi Bechard, whose farm is in Conway, Missouri, told KSMU that her attorney has advised her and her husband not to comment on the lawsuit at this time.

For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore.