Wednesday, November 16, 2011

California Scapegoat

Today my friend alerted me to a recall of raw milk here in California. Five children in Contra Costa, Kings, San Diego and Sacramento counties got sick from E. coli O157:H7 between August and October. Three of them suffered from the highly dangerous hemolytic uremic syndrome.

The finger was being pointed at Organic Pastures, a fully licensed and legal raw milk dairy. When I heard that I immediately had to look it up. When I read the news article on it my bullshit alarm went off. The CDFA (California Department of Food and Agriculture) claims that raw milk was the only common food consumed by the children and since such a small population actually drinks raw milk that must be the cause. Never mind, of course, that none of the milk, including the actual milk the children supposedly got sick from, actually tested positive for E. coli O157:H7. It's also important to note that the State tests Organic Pastures' milk monthly and that the milk is also tested several times a week by an independent lab. All tests have been negative for E. coli.

This is actually the second time the state has pointed a finger at Organic Pastures for contamination. The first time, coincidentally also didn't show their milk was contaminated and they were allowed to resume business. With California's renewed interest in shutting down any and all avenues to raw milk, including herdshares (where you own and board a goat at a farm and the farmer milks it for you), I find this all very suspicious. It's a great way for CDFA to get raw milk in the news with E. coli in the same sentence. The damage is now done and they hope to see more people avoid raw milk and call for an outright ban of it.

The victims here are the children but I find it does them and our society as a whole a great disservice to point the finger at the wrong company. If the actual milk that the children drank isn't contaminated that cannot be the source, even if it's a common food they all consumed.

This all goes back to my post last week about your right to eat the food you want to.


  1. I love reading things you share... good thoughts. I wholeheartedly agree with your take on this situation.

  2. I didn't know that raw milk dairies were legal in California. Around here, trying to get raw milk is like trying to buy drugs.

  3. *Technically* they are legal. There are very, very few though because of all the hoops they have to jump through. And raw milk is extremely expensive.

  4. Typical situation. The FDA will do their darndest to shut down legitimate organic and whole food industries any chance they can get.

  5. I live in Canada and raw milk is banned here as well. Country wide. Dairy farmers have lost their quotas (which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions) and been taken to court for selling or giving raw milk to their friends and neighbors.
    I grew up on raw milk. We had a mixed farm and milked 8 cows. The milk was for us, the cream we sold.
    It's shameful and so disappointing. I wish I could get my hands on some raw milk for my kiddos!

  6. I'm sure you're right. The kids probably got the E. coli from someone sneezing or something. I'm sure the FDA has no reason to question the raw milk. After all it's not as though the history of raw milk has been one of sickness and death...

    1. Oh yay! A snarky post from an anonymous person. My favorite! The FDA was not questioning this milk. It was the CDFA and the milk in question was tested extensively, including the EXACT milk the children drank and it all came back negative. Of course if you had either read my post you may have understood that.