Interstate raw milk sales subject of lawsuit

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The gloves are coming off for one California dairy after filing a lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for allegedly disregarding a request to change the federal law banning interstate sales of raw milk.

According to Food Safety news, Organic Pastures, the largest raw milk producer in the country, initially submitted a petition to change the federal law banning the sale of raw milk across state lines in 2008. And, though the FDA responded and confirmed the request within 90 days, the dairy’s owner, Mark McAfee, is tired of waiting for change and ready to fight to sell his raw dairy products in other states where raw milk is legal.

Also, see “Valley dairyman fights FDA over raw milk.”

To McAfee, his latest legal action will help rip apart what he calls “the Berlin Wall — a wall that’s separating farmers from consumers.”   

“Once you take one brick out of the wall, the wall weakens, and there’s a better chance of bringing it down,” McAfee told Food Safety News. “I want to tear down the wall.”

A similar lawsuit was filed in 2011 by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, which also targeted the federal ban on selling raw milk across state lines. The case was dismissed in April.  Read more from Food Safety News.

Despite the dairy’s move for an exemption to the federal ban, its raw products have been the subject of  recalls in the recent past: 

In May, campylobacter bacteria was found in the dairy’s raw cream and at least 10 people, including a nine-month-old infant, were sickened by the raw product. Campylobacter was again detected in raw cream from the dairy in September, though no illnesses were reported. Last November, state officials recalled and quarantined raw milk from the dairy after E.coli reportedly sent three local children to the hospital.

In a blog post Bill Marler, a products liability attorney, noted other serious recalls and outbreaks linked to Organic Pastures products dating to 2006. Click here for a full list.

With the dairy’s recall history, Marler questioned whether “Organic Pastures is perhaps not the right plaintiff to sue the FDA to expand raw milk sales.”



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