A Laclede County couple has allegedly violated Missouri law prohibiting the distribution and sale of raw milk by selling it outside a Springfield health food store.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced Nov. 23 that his office has filed a lawsuit against Armand and Teddi Bechard after the two sold raw milk in the parking lot of MaMa Jean's Natural Market to two undercover investigators from the Springfield-Greene County Health Department. The couple does business in Laclede County as Bechard Family Farm.

Nanci Gonder, press secretary for Koster's office, said that MaMa Jean's is not included in the suit in any way.

Koster said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other government agencies have talked for years about health risks associated with raw milk, including gastrointestinal disease and E. coli contamination. Missouri law says raw milk or cream can only be sold if a person purchases or requests it directly from a farm.

"Because of the known health risks involved in drinking raw milk, Missouri lawmakers saw fit to require that milk sold from distribution points - such as grocery stores, convenience marts or farmers' markets - be pasteurized," Koster said in a news release. "The law does not prohibit Mr. and Mrs. Bechard from selling raw milk, but it does prohibit them from selling it from a parking lot."

Koster's office said the Bechards refused to sign a consent judgment requiring them to abide by the state statute. He is asking for an injunction prohibiting the Bechards from selling raw milk products in violation of the law and requiring them to pay the cost of the suit.