By Stanley Fishman, Author of Tender Grassfed Meat
The FDA has gone to war. It has marshaled all its resources, and obtained the support and help of the FBI, sheriff’s departments, attorney generals, police departments, courts, and dozens of other state agencies. Agents with drawn guns, laboratories, warrants, lawsuits, injunctions, embargoes, press releases, internet postings, armed raids, the seizure and destruction of huge amounts of property, breaking into private buildings, are just some of the methods the FDA has used in this war.
What horrible crime justifies all this vast effort and expense?
There must be a serious threat to public health, at the very least?
Is the FDA taking action against the drug companies who have killed hundreds of thousands of Americans with dangerous prescription drugs?
Is the FDA closing down the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) that pollute our land and water with actual lagoons of manure and waste, that spread dangerous bacteria into the soil, that create great suffering for animals who are crowded together so tightly that they cannot even turn around?
Is the FDA raiding the large industrial food facilities that cause illness and death from their profit-over-everything practices, and have been the cause of every recent food safety outbreak?
The FDA is targeting single family farms that produce raw cheese.
The FDA is trying to drive them out of business, with the enthusiastic support of various state agricultural agencies.
How many people have died from raw cheese from the targeted farms?
How many people have become ill from raw cheese from the targeted farms?
How many people have complained about being ill from raw cheese from the targeted farms?
Why has the FDA gone to war against family farms making raw cheese?
Raw Cheese Is Legal, when Properly Made and Stored
You might think it is illegal to make and sell raw cheese. It is not. The FDA’s own regulations, in place since 1949, allow the selling of raw cheese in interstate commerce. The cheese must be aged at least sixty days, which results in beneficial bacteria destroying the harmful bacteria, if the aging is done properly.
In the 61 years that have passed, there have been no deaths and very few, if any, illnesses caused by properly aged raw cheese. This excellent record makes properly aged and stored raw cheese one of the safest foods, as well as one of the most nutrient-dense. Raw cheese is widely used all over Europe, with little or no reported illness. In fact, the great legacy cheeses of Europe are all made from raw milk, and have been enjoyed safely for hundreds of years.
Tyranny at Work
When the government uses its awful, overwhelming power to crush and destroy a person or a business that has harmed no one, and broken no law, it is tyranny, plain and simple. The kind of tyranny that freedom-loving people have resisted throughout history. The United States of America is supposed to be a free country, with our fundamental rights protected from government abuse and tyranny.
The FDA is focusing on tests that show the presence of a very common bacteria called listeria monocytogenes, which is sometimes considered dangerous. However, nobody has had a reported illness traced to this bacteria for at least 38 years. FDA’s Ace in the Hole
The system is not working here. There are many examples, but I will pick three.
The Rawsome Raid
On June 30, 2010, armed agents from the FBI, the FDA, the California Department of Agriculture, and the local police department entered a warehouse owned by the Rawsome Co-op. Rawsome is a buying club that provides raw and organic foods to its members. You can see the video of agents brandishing guns in the co-op here. You would think they were looking for armed drug dealers, or terrorists, instead of people selling food. Fortunately they did not shoot anyone.
The government agencies had a warrant that allowed them to take samples of the foods contained in the warehouse. If they had simply knocked on the door, and politely gone about their business of taking samples, nobody would have resisted them. The use of large numbers of armed agents, the brandishing of guns by agents obviously ready to shoot, belongs in the old Soviet Union, not the United States.
Instead of just taking the samples authorized by the warrant, the agents seized all the raw dairy products, placing them in unrefrigerated containers. This took place during the sweltering heat of a Los Angeles summer. Some of the cheese seized had come from Morningland Dairy.
Morningland Dairy is a family owned farm in Missouri. They have been making high quality raw cheese for thirty years. In all those thirty years, nobody has ever claimed that they got sick from this fine cheese.
More than seven weeks after the Rawsome Raid, Morningland Dairy was visited by agents of the FDA and the Missouri Milk Board. The agents embargoed all the cheese in the dairy, preventing its sale, without a hearing, without trial, without testing the cheese that was there. Morningland Dairy was informed that the California Department of Agriculture had tested Morningland cheese seized in the Rawsome raid and found it to be contaminated with listeria monocytogenes. The testing took place SEVEN WEEKS AFTER the cheese was seized and placed in unrefrigerated containers. The circumstances of the testing were not in compliance with FDA regulations, and there was no indication of whether the cheese was even refrigerated during the seven hot weeks between seizure and testing. Nevertheless, the FDA and the Missouri Milk Board demanded that all the cheese at Morningland be destroyed. The cheese was worth $250,000.
The FDA later reported that Morningland had issued a voluntary recall of its cheese, which Morningland denies. The FDA sent Morningland a letter citing the California tests and claiming that Morningland’s cheese was an “acute, life threatening danger to health.”
The Attorney General of Missouri has gone to court to try to get all the cheese at the farm destroyed. The family is currently engaged in a desperate legal battle to save their business. Their ability to earn money had been severely reduced by the embargo, and this financial pressure may result in the death of their farm.
You can find a detailed description of what was done to the family farmers at Morningland here.
And there is even more information on Morningland Dairy here.
Estrella Family Creamery
The Estrella Family Creamery is a family farm that makes some of the most delicious raw cheese in the nation. A number of their cheeses have won awards for excellence. They have been in business for many years, and their cheese has been widely distributed. Their cheese has been a very popular item at many farmer’s markets in the Seattle area. Nobody has ever claimed to have gotten sick from their cheese.
Earlier this fall, the FDA and a Washington state agency claimed that some of Estrella’s cheese was contaminated with the bacteria listeria monocytogenes. The problems centered on one cave, and the company voluntarily destroyed the affected cheese and issued a recall for several cheeses. The farm made changes that solved the contamination problem. It must be emphasized that nobody got sick from the contaminated cheese.
The government agencies demanded that ALL the cheese at the creamery be destroyed, which would be a financial disaster for the farm. The FDA demanded that the creamery recall ALL of its cheese, including the types that had never been contaminated. The creamery refused. The creamery had testing done which proved that none of their current cheese was contaminated with listeria, or anything else.
In October, three carloads of FDA agents and Federal Marshals drove onto the farm, and closed it down. The Estrellas are now prevented from selling their cheese, though they are going to court to fight for their business, at great expense.
There is more information on the Estrella Family Creamery here.
S510 Will Give the FDA Almost Unlimited Power over Agriculture
We have seen what the FDA will do to make war on small family farms now. If the FDA gets the almost unlimited power over farms that S510 will give it, the situation could be much worse, with family farmers facing up to ten years in federal prison.
The FDA Is Not Evil, But It Is Misguided
The FDA has done much good in the past, and could do so again. I used to admire the FDA, and it used to do a great job of protecting our food supply.
I think it is important to realize that the average employee of the FDA is not an evil person. The FDA is full of people who really want to protect us, who are devoted to making our food safer. People who really care about what they do. Good people, full of talent and dedication. But they have to follow the directions of their superiors, and they have been trained to believe certain things which are not accurate. It would be terrific if the FDA would stop focusing on small farms that have hurt no one and use its power and ability to take on the real threats to safety, the threats that are actually killing people, like dangerous drugs, filthy food processing facilities, tainted imported food, and factory food filled with dangerous chemicals and pathogens. They could become heroes again.
What We Can Do
First, we can contribute money to Estrella Family Creamery and Morningland Dairy, so they will not be destroyed by the shutting down of their business and can finance their fight in court.
Keep Family Dairying Alive!
Click the Pledgie Buttons for details!
Second, we can contact our Senators and ask them to stop S510, or support the Tester amendment and remove the criminal penalties.
We must ask our congresspeople to stop FDA tyranny against family farms, and turn the FDA against the real threats to food safety. If they do so, we can save Morningland Dairy, and the Estrella Family Creamery, and many other good farms and dairies that have come under attack.
See more posts about how to save farms at Save Farm Freedom Friday!
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