On March 29, 2008, Organic Pastures announced that Senator Dean Florez and Senator Abel Maldonado will hold joint hearings on raw milk in California on Tuesday, April 15, 2008 in Sacramento, California.
For those who are just catching up, the State of California’s October 8, 2007 AB1735 imposed a limit on the number of coliform bacteria per milliliter to which raw milk does not easily conform — overlooking the fact that most coliform bacteria are beneficial (more coverage here) and that this "test" does not protect consumers from pathogens because it does not actually test for pathogens. This reads like one of those surreal movie-like scenarios: a dairy being forced by a state agency to recall its products based upon, as it finally emerged months later, no evidence, at which time the CDFA settled the matter by, among other things, getting the dairy’s agreement not to sue either the CDFA or individuals in the CDFA. And then, a few months later -presto!- Californians were presented with AB1735 as a fait accompli (a done deed) without prior notice nor hearing (which precluded the ability to present argument or evidence).
Now, it looked for a moment as if the less egregious AB1604, introduced by Nicole Parra (see YouTube video of her presentation), was going to right the wrong, but the celebration was not yet over when that was suddenly retracted in favor of hearings. The two main California raw milk producers, Organic Pastures and Claravale Dairy, filed suit. As I recall, Whole Foods Markets joined in not long afterwards.
Back to the present — the hearing. Says the Organic Pastures alert:
Representing the CDFA and the FDA will be the chief of FDA dairy safety, John Sheehan, along with eight other university food safety experts.
Protecting our right to drink raw milk will be a very special Raw Milk Dream Team. These experts include Sally Fallon, Jordan Rubin, Ted Beals, MD., Cat Berge DVM PhD, and more to come in the next two weeks. Also joining us are powerful advocates like Walter Robb, president of Wholefoods. Together, we will argue that the raw milk industry in California has a long history of safety; that raw milk provides superior nutrition; and consuming raw milk is a matter of personal choice.
This is pretty serious stuff; if you’ve not enjoyed the recent period when raw organic cream was unavailable for weeks, that could become permanent. Frankly, I’ve had too many health (and well-being) benefits from drinking organic raw milk and cream that I would not look forward to difficulties in obtaining it.
I’m not at all averse to testing — but let the testing be done for actual pathogens, not arbitrary limits of mainly beneficial coliforms. And let that testing apply to all foodstuffs, not just raw milk. Heck, test pasteurized milk, too.
That said, I hope that the Organic Pastures and Claravale Dairy lawsuit against the CDFA continues, because my understanding is that, in prior hearings with the CDFA, the dairies’ evidence was not allowed to be presented, and a lawsuit means that evidence would be given directly to a court. The other reason is that, while the CDFA and the dairies could come to an agreement, that could be reversed more easily than the results of a lawsuit. Thirdly, because other states are fighting the same raw milk fight right now. And, lastly, it would be a benefit if real evidence was available to all consumers, as farmers are "the little guys" in this fight, and it has been far too long that what appears to me to be a combination of whisper campaigns and disinformation has kept proper information from consumer awareness.
Meanwhile, pasteurized milk is promoted as "safe" — the recent scare about listeria in supposedly "raw" milk killing two people. Thing is, that article quotes:
…we milk the cow, haul the raw milk to our processing plant in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts and then sell the processed milk at our milk store and at our processing plant.
What process? Pasteurization.
» At OrganicPastures.com: Raw Milk Needs You Like Never Before on April 15th.
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