Out-of-state pets will be out of luck — FDA sues Organic Pastures for shipping

Photo of raw milk cow from Organic Pastures website

Miss 2029 -- an Organic Pastures cow. Photo from the Organic Pastures website.

Further to our last post about running “moo-shine” across state lines, it seems that another bunch of underemployed regulators are justifying their existence by making trouble for Mark McAfee’s Organic Pastures. Thanks to Eddie from Haphazard Gourmet Girls for drawing this to our attention. Sounds like those FDA regulators just can’t believe anyone would go through the trouble of ordering Organic Pastures raw milk from another state and then feed it to their pets. Either that, or they think it’s time Organic Pastures got a little more free publicity in the media. As Mark McAfee has said in the past, “every time the regulators crack down, people love us more and sales go up”. Maybe those regulator types are really friends of raw milk — in disguise.

Here’s an excerpt from one of several stories that have appeared in the online media covering this action. This is from The Capital Press website:

“A California organic dairy producer vows to fight a federal government lawsuit that seeks to bar his company from shipping raw milk products across state lines.

“The (Food and Drug Administration) is reaching way beyond its authority to intimidate us and what we do, but we will not be intimidated,” said Mark McAfee, owner of the Organic Pastures Dairy Company in Fresno, Calif.

The U.S. Justice Department filed suit against McAfee in a U.S. district court Thursday, Nov. 20, claiming that he endangered public health by violating a federal law against interstate commerce in unpasteurized milk.

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department, which oversees FDA, is also participating in the lawsuit.

“Raw milk and raw milk products contain a wide variety of harmful bacteria including, but not limited to, listeria monocytogenes, E. coli, salmonella, campylobacter and brucella, all of which may cause illness and possibly death,” according to the federal government’s complaint.

According to the federal government’s lawsuit, McAfee circumvented restrictions on the interstate shipment of raw milk by labeling outgoing boxes as “pet food.” Unpasteurized milk is allowed to cross state lines as long as it’s used for that purpose.

However, the retail products within the boxes did not mention pet food and the labeling language was clearly directed at human consumers, according to the government’s complaint.

The lawsuit contends that an employee at Organic Pastures Dairy unwittingly acknowledged the pet food label was a “legal loophole for the firm to be able to ship the product out of state” to an undercover FDA investigator.

McAfee admitted as much in a 2005 Portland Tribune article in which he was quoted as saying, “And there is no regulation that you can’t eat pet food, either,” according to the complaint.

Organic Pastures Dairy no longer labels its products as pet food unless the customer signs an affidavit saying the milk will only be fed to animals, McAfee said. The company established that policy after the FDA threatened it with a criminal indictment earlier this year, he said.

The only product McAfee now ships out of state is colostrum, which, as dietary supplement, can legally cross state lines, he said. Colostrum, or milk that is secreted shortly after birth, is used for immune system support and other health benefits.

“They fail to understand that what we do is completely legal,” McAfee said.

McAfee expects the presiding judge, Oliver Wanger, to rule against the federal government before the case goes to trial.

The federal government wants the judge to issue an injunction prohibiting McAfee from shipping his products out of California, no matter how they are labeled.

The government’s lawsuit says that seven people died and more than 460 fell ill from diseases associated with raw milk consumption between 2000 and 2005. Epidemiological studies have established a direct link between raw milk and gastrointestinal disease, according to the complaint.

Proponents of raw milk, such as the Weston A. Price Foundation, say such studies are biased and based on sloppy science.

“Most of them represent a rush to judgment in which the investigators blamed raw milk without sufficient evidence or even in the face of contrary evidence,” according to a report from the foundation.

Raw milk contains beneficial proteins, enzymes, vitamins and minerals, according to proponents.

Christine Chessen, director of the California Raw Milk Association, said that raw milk can alleviate symptoms of asthma, eczema, allergies and immune disease….”

Read the whole story here.

Here’s a commentary by some raw milk opponents.

Leave a comment

Filed under News

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s