CHEYENNE -- Andy Whitehurst of Riverton said he has had food poisoning three times in his life. Each incident occurred when he ate in restaurants certified to serve food, he said Wednesday.
However, speaking during the Wyoming Department of Agriculture's final public meeting on changes in food safety rules, Whitehurst said he never has endured food poisoning from from leafy greens or other produce from his own garden or friends' gardens.
Whitehurst also claimed that health problems are caused by drinking pasteurized milk, because the process destroys beneficial enzymes and antibodies.
Opponents of raw milk consumption say there is no scientific evidence to support those claims, and pasteurization is necessary to kill disease-causing bacteria.
A half-dozen of the 30 people who attended the meeting spoke in opposition to the proposed changes, particularly the section dealing with raw milk.
Some were small producers who supported what some are calling the food freedom movement.
The selling of raw milk has always been prohibited in Wyoming. The new proposed rules specify that the ban does not apply when the milk is produced for family members or guests and when the animals are "solely" owned.
The dispute with this rule pertains to cow shares, where a producer sells shares of a milking animal to another person for the raw milk.
The new rule would prohibit milk sales from the shared cow to anyone except a family member.
Lyndi O'Laughlin, of Sheridan, questioned what will happen to her cow share if she is no longer allowed to get the raw milk.
"I know of no other animal where your property right can be taken away by saying only one person can exclusively own this animal," she said.
"This seems something like a hysterical reaction to a very low-risk food," O'Laughlin added.
Wednesday's meeting was the fourth public hearing on the new rules staged by officials in the Department of Agriculture's Consumer Health Services section since April.
The next step is for the department to review all of the comments and make a final decision on the rules, which then will be forwarded to Gov. Matt Mead, according to Dean Finkbinder, manager of Consumer Health Services.
"We feel like you have listened," said state Rep. Sue Wallis, R-Recluse, a leader of the food freedom movement.
Wallis said the state Board of Agriculture should be involved in the decision on the rules to be sure the producers' interests are considered.
She also said if the word "solely" isn't removed from the rules, her group may take legal action to protect people's rights to cow shares.
If the word is removed, then cow shares become a private ownership situation and the department would not be involved, she said.
A summary of the proposed rules is on the Department of Agriculture's website at http://agriculture.wy.gov/.
The changes are in response to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's revisions to the food code, which provides the latest scientific information on food safety.
The revisions are meant to clarify rules and provide more opportunities for producers of Wyoming to sell their goods, the online report said.