Raw milk and cheese were attacked by the government again last week, when FDA officials arrived unannounced at the most well-known artisanal creamery in Washington and posted a seizure order that named all cheeses on the property.
The award-winning raw-milk cheeses, made by the Estrella Family Creamery in Montesano, Grays Harbor County, are sold at farmers markets, high-end restaurants and retail stores in several states.
In February, an inspection by the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) turned up Listeria monocytogenes, a bacteria found in animal feces, in the creamery’s production areas and in its finished cheese, according to court records.
For the last thirty-eight years, and possibly further back, there have been no reports of illness caused by the consumption of raw milk that was attributed to L-mono, writes Pete Kennedy of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.
The FDA moved forward with its unexpected action despite the fact that no illnesses have been linked with the cheeses, the Washington state Department of Health said.
The problems centered on a particular cave where soft cheeses are aged, according to co-owner Kelli Estrella, adding that soft cheeses are more susceptible to bacteria growth.
“We very aggressively went after the problem,” she told the Seattle Times. The company voluntarily recalled several cheeses, destroyed the cheese in that cave and temporarily shut down production while it improved the facility.
The current FDA recall involves every single type of cheese in production at Estrella, even those that never tested positive for L-mono.
According to Kennedy, this recall, and similar cases happening all over the country, is a disturbing example of what could happen if if S510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, passes into law giving FDA mandatory recall power.
“The cases show how the recall power along with the food safety plan requirement [see HARPC] in the bill would be an effective way for the agency to cripple raw dairy producers who have harmed no one with their products,” writes Kennedy. “If S510 passes, state agencies and laboratories will be getting more funding from FDA and the influence of the agency on states in pushing its anti-raw milk agenda will increase.”
Although there’s no doubt that many regulations governing the production of food in America need to be updated, it has been widely criticized for containing a number of dangerously fascist ideas, mostly targeting small, non-traditional farmers and food makers.
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