“A few weeks ago I asked in a post whether a Missouri judge might be willing to explore new directions suggested by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund before condemning $250,000 worth of Morningland Dairy raw cow’s and goat’s milk cheeses.
The county judge, David Dunlap, has just issued his decision, and the answer is an emphatic “No.” Indeed, the judge came at the entire matter differently than had been presented by either the state or the FTCLDF, in upholding the state’s push to destroy Morningland’s cheese.
The state had argued that because some samples of Morningland’s cheese contained listeria monocytogenes and staph aureus, the cheese should be considered “adulterated” and the entire inventory should be condemned. This despite the fact that there hadn’t been any illnesses from cheese previously sold.
The FTCLDF had argued that the state should provide detailed information about the nature of the contamination (such as the amount of listeria monocytogenes, and whether it was from a pathogenic subtype), and it challenged the assumption that the presence of bacteria constituted adulteration.
Judge Dunlap rejected the notion that the state had to provide detailed information. “At the time of condemnation [last summer], the Milk Board knew only that two small samples of defendant’s cow cheese in California were alleged to contain unspecified quantities of the potentially pathogenic bacteria listeria monocytogenes and staph aureus. No evidentiary warrant existed for a global conclusion that the entire inventory of over 20,000 pounds–comprising many varieties of both cow and goat cheese produced on various dates over a period of many months–was similarly tainted. In this uncontested case, however, substantial evidence is not required, and agency discretion is broad…”