The US Food and Drug Administration, always alert for dangers to the homeland, concluded a lengthy and wide-ranging sting operation recently, bringing a halt to the nefarious activities of a band of smugglers trading in illicit goods. The identity of the culprits came as a surprise to shocked neighbors since they were Amish farmers. The nature of the seized contraband? Milk.
A yearlong sting operation, including aliases, a 5 a.m. surprise inspection and surreptitious purchases from an Amish farm in Pennsylvania, culminated in the federal government announcing this week that it has gone to court to stop Rainbow Acres Farm from selling its contraband to willing customers in the Washington area.
The product in question: unpasteurized milk.
It’s a battle that’s been going on behind the scenes for years, with natural foods advocates arguing that raw milk, as it’s also known, is healthier than the pasteurized product, while the Food and Drug Administration says raw milk can carry harmful bacteria such as salmonella, E. coli and listeria.
While contaminated food products are clearly of concern, this particular sting falls under the auspices of the FDA because of the 2009 FDA Food Modernization Act. It gave the FDA broad new powers to impose strict new regulations on, “slaughterhouses, seafood processing plants, establishments that process, store, hold or transport all categories of food products prior to delivery for retail sale, farms, ranches, orchards, vineyards, aquaculture facilities and confined animal-feeding operations.”
What could possibly go wrong? Well, it turns out that way back in March of 2009, when this change was being considered, our friend The Lady Logician sounded an alarm which seems to have come to pass.
[T]his does hurt the small boutique/family farmer who is out there making specialty jellies or raising bison for your neighborhood farmers market. This will hurt the operators of your favorite road side farm stand too. In other words – it hurts SMALL BUSINESS the most.
I find it very ironic that the people who sponsor the most legislation to help big businesses like Monsanto are the Democrats. After all, for decades they have told us that they were for the “little guy”. If Monsanto is the little guy – I would hate to see who the “big guy” in this equation is…..
There are risks involved in choosing to purchase farm fresh, non-pasteurized, non-homogenized milk, and the buyer should be aware of the source and how it is produced, stored and shipped. But again… it’s a choice, and one that can be readily handled at the state level. In addition to the health benefits many people claim they get from fresh milk, there are other reasons to make it available.
If you happen to know anyone who makes cheese, either as a home hobby or cottage industry level, you will know that commercial, homogenized milk is essentially useless for that purpose. The homogenization process breaks up the cream too much to produce a good curd. (Yes, for the sake of disclosure, it’s an occasional hobby of mine.)
Having these types of local suppliers available is of benefit to a number of people. And they don’t need the FDA coming in like some modern day band of the Untouchables to shut them down when no complaints had been filed against the farmer for any disease related issues.