“Raw-milk dairy rebrands products as cosmetics to stay in business”

Shannon Moneo, writing in The Globe and Mail:

Cosmetics counter at Our Cows in Chilliwack BC. Photo via Globe and Mail.com

A Chilliwack raw-milk dairy has become a de facto cowsmetics counter as jars brimming with only unpasteurized milk are labelled Cleopatra’s enzymatic body lotion while raw cream alone is christened massage cream.

Ordered to stop distributing raw milk for human consumption because B.C.’s Public Health Act considers the product a health hazard, the 22-cow dairy has rebranded to keep raw milk flowing for its 450 Vancouver-area customers.

Disparaged as a “sneaky” way of skirting laws against the sale of raw milk, it’s the latest development in a national campaign that sets public health concerns against consumers who want pure unpasteurized product

In June of 2008, the dairy was identified as a producer and distributor of raw milk. By March 2010, the Fraser Health Authority secured a permanent injunction to stop it from distributing raw milk for human consumption. In response, dairy operator Alice Jongerden labelled the milk as “Not For Human Consumption.” In September, the health authority asked that Ms. Jongerden be held in contempt of court. She was found guilty, but not fined, in December.

She stepped aside in September and Ontario raw-milk dairy farmer Michael Schmidt took over as manager of Our Cows Inc.

The dairy’s half-dozen products all bear labels stating “should not be used for human consumption.”

“We tell customers you cannot drink it. You can use raw dairy products as cosmetics. It’s not a matter of getting round the law. It’s how do we accommodate our customers?” Mr. Schmidt said from his home in Durham, Ont.

The executive director of the B.C. Milk Producers Association considers Mr. Schmidt’s marketing a “big fake.”

“It’s another under-the-table, sneaky way of trying to get around the law,” Robin Smith said.. “It’s cloaking a cow in Cleopatra’s robes.”

At Our Cows, five employees milk and care for the cows and bottle the products. About 70 gallons of milk are produced daily by the Jerseys.

For $150 per month, a cow-share member gets about two quarts of raw-milk products each week.

Since September, Mr. Schmidt, who owns a 40-cow raw-milk dairy, has flown to B.C. five times, “taking all the flack” and preparing to battle for the right of British Columbians to legally acquire raw milk.

“I was reflecting on the arbitrary decree by B.C. regulators to call raw milk a hazardous substance. It’s like calling a human being a criminal,” he said of a product he spent 16 years fighting to distribute in Ontario. Before immigrating to Canada from Germany in 1983, Mr. Schmidt operated a raw-milk dairy.

In January 2010, he was acquitted of all 19 charges related to the distribution of raw milk and raw-milk products in Ontario.

Raw-milk supporters point to the Ontario decision, which stated that because Mr. Schmidt’s raw-milk products were available to only cow-share members they were not considered available to the public.

But in her March, 2010 order, Madam Justice Miriam Gropper wrote: “The question of whether the milk or milk products are distributed to the public or to members of the cow share is of no relevance in British Columbia. Raw milk is deemed to be a health hazard by regulation, and s.15 of the Public Health Act ‘prohibits a person from willingly causing a health hazard.’ ”

Fraser Health Authority is aware that Mr. Schmidt has branded Our Cows raw milk as cosmetics.

“Mr. Schmidt has been very clear and open about his plans,” said spokesperson Roy Thorpe-Dorward.

Read the whole story on the Globe and Mail.com


Filed under News

9 responses to ““Raw-milk dairy rebrands products as cosmetics to stay in business”

  1. thebovine

    This “news” story broke first on new-skin.net blog and BIV Business Today (http://www.bivinteractive.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3150&Itemid=32) on the 30th of September 2010.
    See this post on the Bovine for details: https://thebovine.wordpress.com/2010/10/01/raw-milk-lovers-reach-agreement-to-ensure-supply-of-bathing-lotion-new-skin-blog/
    Of course the Globe isn’t the only media outlet to pretend this is new. See this earlier post on the Bovine for links to several other papers that have been repeating the same mantra with minor variations over the past several days: https://thebovine.wordpress.com/2010/12/31/raw-milk-cow-share-college-to-be-offered-across-canada-in-2011-says-vancouver-sun/

    But hey, no problem, any time the Globe or any other media want to write about raw milk, it’s all good. You’ve just got to wonder, “why now?”.

  2. At the very beginning, I said to Alice … when the Globe& Mail covers you, you’ll have made the Big Time. It’s treated the raw milk issue even-handedly, for over 4 years.
    Back in September, Michael Schmidt told us that we had to ‘up the ante’ … Masterfuly, he inveigled Fraser Health Authority to commit itself – in “Canada’s National Newspaper”, no less! – to dragging him into Court where he can really have his say
    most amusing is that, at the hearing of Fraser Health’s Petition, on February 1st 2010, Michael Schmidt was sitting in the gallery. I introduced him to the Court and asked for leave to let him sit at the counsel table with us. High & Mighty Madame Justice Gropper refused to let him go before the Bar, let alone speak to the matter. So the noises made by Fraser Health about him being caught by the Court Order against Home on the Range, are ridiculous.
    It’s all theatre … in which Michael Schmidt will make the Courtroom, the Classroom.
    A tragic sidenote is that counsel for Fraser Health Authority, lawyer Guy McDannold, is in poor health. I can tell at a glance that what the poor guy needs is some REAL MILK

  3. Alice Jongerden

    Here is a radio clip from the Bill Good show which starts out with Robin Smith, Executive Director of BC Milk Producer’s Association.
    http://www.cknw.com/other/audiovault.html January 4 10:00am, and hit ‘listen’. Once your player opens, go about halfway in to find the program. (26 min, 43 sec) It is a 15 min. segment.

  4. Please read ALL the comments following the above Globe and Mail article.
    Very interesting and revealing.

  5. Globe Opinion Poll
    Would you drink raw milk if you could buy it legally?

    * Yes
    * No
    * I already drink it

    46% 482 votes
    27% 283 votes
    27% 288 votes
    I already drink it
    This means 73% support raw milk and 27 against

  6. You may want to read this final submission regarding our court case here on the Bovine.
    It helps to counter some of the comments in the Globe

  7. JC

    People wouldn’t have to be sneaky if they weren’t being over regulated.

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