The Ohio Department of Agriculture is investigating the legality of herd-share arrangements, which allow consumers to obtain raw milk.

LeeAnne Mizer, a spokeswoman for the agency said there are public health concerns about the growing number of people consuming raw milk products. Ohio outlawed raw milk sales to consumers in 1997. In 2003, the last dairy farm grandfathered into selling unpasteurized milk to individuals gave up its license following a salmonella outbreak.

Raw milk can carry disease-causing organisms that cause a host of foodborne illnesses, according to health officials.

Advocates of raw milk say they want the right to choose. Twenty-eight states allow consumers to purchase unpasteurized milk. Legislation to once again legalize raw milk sales in Ohio is being prepared by State Rep. Arlene Setzer, a Republican from Vandalia. Meanwhile, a makeshift raw milk organization is in place.

Ten Ohio dairy farmers formed the Raw Milk Producers Association, a self-policing organization which will work to established health standards and testing programs to ensure a safe product. An estimated 1,000 Ohio families have purchased herd shares.

On the West Coast, Washington state legislators have begun work on closing what they call loopholes that allow for cow share purchases of raw milk. Those actions came after a Listeria outbreak attributed to milk from a farm near Seattle made several people ill last year.