Raw Dairy given Raw Deal

26 Oct 2007

New raw milk legislation, which passed quietly in California last month unbeknown to the state’s two major raw milk dairies, may see the state’s 40,000 consumers of these cheese, cream and milk products having great difficulty finding them in stores as of January next year.

For the first time, raw milk will be required to meet a strict limit for coliform bacteria. According to Mark McAfee, managing partner of Organic Pastures Dairy in Fresno, the new standard “basically prohibits raw milk in California,”. Organic Pasture produces most of the raw milk sold in California – around $5.8 million a year in raw milk products.

Milk safety authorities and raw milk advocates agree that most strains of coliform bacteria don’t cause illness, and it is in fact the mix of bacteria and enzymes found in raw milk that are believed to make it more healthy than pasteurized options. Raw milk is already tested for bacteria that are known to be harmful.

The food and agriculture department argue that the limit is reachable. About 25 percent of the raw milk tested by the agency prior to pasteurization comes in below the limit of 10 coliform per milliliter. However, McAfee contends, “is going to make the sale of raw milk very, very difficult if not impossible in California.”

Just four states of America, including California, allow raw milk products to be sold in stores, while 24 others permit sales directly from farms.
There is talk among consumers of following the activity occurring in other states, where people find small farms and buy raw milk illegally through cow shares.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

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