Athens-area lawmaker Doug McKillip is pushing a bill to make it legal to sell and drink raw milk in Georgia. Known as the Dairy Consumer Choice Act, the legislation would put producers of unpasturized -- or raw milk -- under the same state regulation as other dairy farmers.

Eric Wagoner owns an organic food online farmers market in Athens. He says McKillip’s bill (HB 1098) is set-up well for hopeful passage.

“It’s modeled after the laws in South Carolina, which have not just inspections, but also testing for bacteria levels and things to absolutely ensure the milk’s safety."

Last fall, Wagoner was forced by state agriculture officials to pour-out more than 100 gallons of raw milk that came from South Carolina. The milk had been purchased through Wagoner's online market, and delivered from South Carolina to Athens for pick-up by customers.

Raw milk drinkers say the product is more nutritious and tastes better than the pasteurized version. But state agriculture officials say unpasteurized milk can include dangerous by-products like salmonella.

Iris Meng with Daily Groceries Co-op in Athens says health-conscious customers often ask for raw milk. She says it’s high time for a change in Georgia law.

"Simply because somebody has a problem with raw milk, to deprive everyone’s choice to have access to raw milk...that’s just simply wrong."

The legislation currently is in a committee for review.

Tags: Georgia, lawmakers, Athens, raw milk, unpasteurized milk, Eric Wagoner, Edgar Treiguts, Doug McKillip, state Department of Agriculture, food safety