San Francisco Chronicle weighs in on the case of the FDA vs Pennsylvania Amish raw milk farmer Dan Allgyer

From Carolyn Lochhead, SF Chronicle Washington bureau:

Screen grab from SF Gate website

(05-22) 04:00 PDT Washington — Pennsylvania Amish farmer Dan Allgyer has become a cause celebre for raw milk drinkers as the target of a Food and Drug Administration campaign – using sting operations and guns-drawn raids usually reserved for terrorists and drug lords – to eliminate unpasteurized milk.

Such milk, also known as raw or fresh milk, is legal in California and considered essential to Europe’s finest cheeses, creams and butters.

But under the authority of a 1987 FDA regulation banning interstate commerce in raw milk, government agents have conducted a sting operation on a raw milk producer in Fresno, made three raids on a boutique goat cheese maker in Ventura County and descended with guns drawn on a raw milk buying club in Venice (Los Angeles County).

Allgyer is the latest to feel the force of a yearslong Food and Drug Administration campaign against raw milk that has focused on tiny farms and consumer co-ops.

Mark McAfee, owner of Organic Pastures Dairy in Fresno, which sells raw milk to 50,000 customers a week in 400 stores in the Bay Area and the rest of the state, was the subject of an undercover investigation three years ago by federal agents, becoming the largest dairy owner targeted so far.

“They refuse to acknowledge raw milk can be done in a safe manner,” McAfee said of the FDA. “The state of California is very effectively doing that. … There is no recorded evidence anywhere, any place – the Centers for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration, anybody – that shows anybody has ever died from raw milk in California.”

Safety concern

Still, the agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention insist that unpasteurized milk is unsafe. Pasteurization involves cooking milk at a high temperature to kill listeria, E. coli, salmonella and other pathogens that can enter milk through manure and prove deadly, particularly in children, the elderly or persons with weakened immune systems.

Raw milk drinkers say cooking milk diminishes its flavor and nutrients. They said similar sterilization standards, if applied across the American diet, would ban sushi, medium-rare steaks, oysters on the shell and most raw fruits and vegetables….”

Get the whole story from the SFGate website.
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