Yep, another installment in our raw milk series.
On my way to work this morning I heard a story on Northstate Public Radio (NPR) about raw milk from Organic Pastures being recalled and quarantined after five California children got sick with E coli. Organic Pastures distributes their raw milk products throughout the state. Their products are available locally at Chico Natural Foods.
According to The Fresno Bee, "Although laboratory samples of Organic Pastures milk have not detected
E. coli contamination, the state will not allow the dairy to resume
production until it meets all sanitation requirements. State
investigators and food-safety experts have begun a complete inspection
of the dairy."
Sounds reasonable, right?
Joel Salatin, owner of Polyface Farms and author of, among other books, Everything I want to do is Illegal, would surely cringe at the mention of state inspection of the dairy. He, like some of the people who commented on the Fresno Bee article, points out that government inspection is a product of the industrialization of food Unfortunately, often government guidelines that are reasonable and necessary for industrial producers, fall unfairly on small- to mid-sized, family owned and operated farms. In his book he documents an incident when Polyface Farms lost a whole batch of chickens because a state lab report tested positive for salmonella. Only later did he discover that the lab sample in question had fallen on the floor of the state testing facility before being tested.
Organic Pastures regularly tests its milk and posts its bacteria counts and E coli results on its website. None of their own tests have shown any E coli. Sure, those are the farm's own tests. What would they do if they did find e coli? I don't know.
Figuring out where a food poisoning outbreak started is an inexact science. The research is completed by having consumers and parents complete questionnaires regarding what they or their children have eaten in the past few weeks. (Think about that: Just real quick, jot down everything you, or anyone in your household, ate yesterday.) The reason for this shutdown of Organic Pastures is that their milk was the common denominator on those questionnaires for all five families.
I am very interested to see what is reported after the state completes their inspection of the dairy...
Nov 17 Update: Cheeseslave's post about this brings some clarification regarding the lab testing.