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Residents of Troy crying over illegal milk

CREATED Jun 12, 2013

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TROY - The state banned raw, unpasteurized milk, saying it can make you seriously sick. But now a man in the town of Troy is fighting for his right to drink milk the way he wants it.

For Petra Zinniker and her husband Mark, their farm isn't a job, it's a way of life.

"We are a small farm, and we don't want to become a big farm," she said.

Staying small has proved successful. Their farm kept growing in popularity, if not size. To the point where there was a year long wait list to join their co-op.

Members had access to the Zinniker's food. Vegetables, eggs, chickens, and raw, unpasteurized milk.

Their barn is now empty because the state shut them down. The co-op agreement was determined illegal, and the farm a threat to public health.

The state's investigation stems from a health report from August of 2009 that traces an outbreak of foodborne illness back to the farm. Fifty people got sick, and one person was hospitalized for five days.

And while the milk never tested positive, the strain was found in the Zinniker's cows.

Jan Ellefson is head of Walworth County's public health.She says pasteurization of milk was a turning point in public health. And like the CDC, she is warning against drinking non-pasteurized milk.

Brandon Lagreca drank milk from the Zinniker's farm, but claims he and his wife never got sick. They still want to buy the milk, but it's against the law.

Wisconsin is one of a handful of states where raw milk is illegal. So Lagreca is fighting back. He wrote an ordinance, the first of its kind in Wisconsin, asking the state to ignore the law.

So as the dust settles, Petra Zinniker has abandoned the dairy and gone to work in town.

Lagreca's ordinance will be put before the three board members of Troy on Wednesday. He knows it won't change the law, but hopes it can change public opinion.

Courtny Gerrish contributed to this report.