Organic Pastures, America’s largest raw milk dairy is to sue the FDA over the issue of distributing its unpasteurized milk across the U.S.
Organic Pastures has filed a suit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to the Dairy Reporter. The suit is designed to force a change in the current law, which bans sales of raw milk across state lines (the U.S. law reference is CFR 1240.61).
Organic Pastures says that the reason for its action is because demand is growing for raw milk and they want to meet that demand. Proponents of unpasteurized milk make the argument that if milk is obtained from humanely raised cows that are grass fed and handled hygienically, then there is little problem with disease.
Organic Pastures’ owner Mark McAfee is quoted as saying, by Food Safety News, that: "The entire thing (producing raw milk) is a learning process. “No one completely understands bacteria and how they interplay with humans."
The argument of the FDA is that raw milk presents a health risk to consumers due to the risk of bacterial infection. The argument is that raw milk can become contaminated in a number of ways: by coming into contact with cow feces or bacteria living on the skin of cows, from an infection of the cow's udder, or from dirty equipment, among others. Improperly handled raw milk is responsible for nearly three times more hospitalizations than any other food-borne disease outbreak.
The Marler blog notes that several recalls have been associated with unpasteurized milk supplied by Organic Pastures.
The process of pasteurization is applied to most milk today. Pasteurization is a process of heating a food, which is usually a liquid, to a specific temperature for a predefined length of time and then immediately cooling it after it is removed from the heat. This process slows spoilage due to microbial growth in the food.
The outcome of the latest law suit will have a bearing upon the take up, or otherwise, of unpasteurized milk.