FDA Files Lawsuit to Seize Healthy Food

On October 19, 2017, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) filed a complaint with a federal district court in Kansas to seize and condemn around $70,000 of raw camel milk, pasteurized camel milk, raw camel milk colostrum, and raw camel milk kefir.[1] The camel milk products are currently being held at a frozen food warehouse, My Magic Kitchen, located in Kansas City. The Kansas Department of has placed all the products under embargo, prohibiting their movement from the warehouse.

All labels on the frozen products FDA wants to seize bear the name Desert Farms; the Santa Monica, California based company is the largest raw milk distributor in the U.S. According to the complaint, Hump-Back Dairys of Miller, Missouri produced nearly all of the product being held at the warehouse; the dairy is, by far, the largest camel milk producer in the country.

There has been a thirty-year ban on raw dairy products (other than aged raw cheese) in interstate commerce; FDA interprets the ban to extend to raw milk camel products. In December 2016 Samuel Hostetler, the owner of Hump-Back Dairys, received a warning letter from FDA.[2] The letter to Hostetler warned that he was violating the interstate ban by shipping both raw camel milk and raw camel milk products in interstate commerce; Hostetler responded to the warning letter by informing the agency that he would be complying with the federal regulation establishing the ban.

Walid Abdul-Wahab, the president of Desert Farms, also received a warning letter from FDA in September 2016 but the letter did not mention the interstate raw dairy ban; instead the letter accused Desert Farms of violating the law by shipping “new drugs” that were not approved by FDA in interstate commerce.[3] The letter noted that Desert Farms was making health claims on its website and facebook page about how camel milk was being successfully used to treat various diseases, especially autism. The letter warned that the camel milk products were drugs because “they are intended for use in the care, mitigation and treatment of disease”. As such they were “new drugs” that needed approval from FDA before they could be marketed. The FDA approval for new drugs processing can cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

The FDA suit filed for the seizure and destruction of the camel milk products alleges that Desert Farms’ social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram) linked to the company’s website contain claims that “demonstrate that the camel milk products are intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease, including autism, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, viral infections such as hepatitis, the genetic disorder Machado-Joseph, depression, gastrointestinal disease, heart problems, attention deficit disorder, autoimmune diseases, Hashimoto’s disease and cancer.”[4]

What neither the warning letters nor FDA’s complaint for seizure allege is that the camel milk products are adulterated or a threat to human health. As far as is known there has never been a case of foodborne illness in this country attributed to consumption of camel milk. Destruction of the camel milk products at the warehouse would be an absolute waste of healthy food.

It is estimated there are over 10,000 families with autistic children in the U.S. that purchase raw camel milk; many of these families pay $18 a pint or more for the product. There is a reason for that; parents of autistic children have found that raw camel milk and camel milk products can alleviate the symptoms of the condition known as autism spectrum disorder. The science backs them up [5]; pasteurized camel milk can be effective in alleviating the symptoms of autism as well though not to the same degree.

Earlier this year FDA released an article on its Consumer Updates page titled, “Autism: Beware of Potentially Dangerous Therapies and Products.”[6] In the article FDA warns about taking camel milk as a treatment for autism and autism-related symptoms. When FDA warns about taking a product for a disease, it is often because the product is a threat to the profits of the pharmaceutical industry.

FDA is seeking a court order to destroy over 4,300 8- and 16-ounce bottles of camel milk products; product that can help autistic children cope with their condition. The judge hearing the case has the discretion to release the product to Desert Farms.[7] If Walid Abdul-Wahab shows the court that any health claims are no longer on the Desert Farms website and social media and that he is willing to pasteurize the camel milk (with the interstate ban, he would have no choice if he wants the product released) and label the milk containers accordingly the judge could release the product to Desert Farms. Healthy food like this should not wind up in a landfill.

A court date for a hearing on the seizure petition has not been set yet.

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[1] United States of America v. Camel milk products, et al, Kansas Civil Action No. 17-2609 (2017). Access docket files via Pacer.gov for Case #: 2:17-cv-02609-CM-KGS. Retrieved 11/18/2017 from Justia.com at https://dockets.justia.com/docket/kansas/ksdce/2:2017cv02609/118800

[2] FDA warning letter to Samuel P. Hostetler (DBA) Hump-Back Dairys, dated 12/19/16. Retrieved 11/18/2017 at https://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/2016/ucm534108.htm

[3] FDA warning letter to Desert Farms, dated 9/15/16. Retrieved 11/19/2017 at https://www.fda.gov/iceci/enforcementactions/warningletters/2016/ucm524663.htm

[4] United States of America v. Camel milk products, et al

[5] “Casualties of the Raw Milk Ban”, January 17, 2017, Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund website. Retrieved 11/18/2017 at https://www.farmtoconsumer.org/blog/2017/01/17/casualties-raw-milk-ban/

[6] FDA, “Autism: Beware of Potentially Dangerous Therapies and Products”, www.fda.gov updated April 12, 2017; originally published April 25, 2014 (see https://www.actcommunity.ca/resource/3565/). Retrieved 11/18/2017 at https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm394757.htm

[7] United States Code, 21 USC 334(d). Accessible at https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/21/334

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Will Dubai Camel Milk Soon Be Available in the US?

In the United States, camel milk is hard to find. When you can find camel milk, it is expensive: pasteurized camel milk retails for $16 per pint.

DairyReporter.com estimates that in the US there are 18,000 cows for every camel. It is strictly illegal to import or sell camel milk in the US, as the FDA has not yet created quality standards for it.

Despite this, one large camel farm in Dubai, Camelicious, has its sights set on entering the US market with its pasteurized camel’s milk. Realmilk.com blog has previously reported on raw camel milk testimonies which give evidence of the therapeutic value of raw camel’s milk.

“Camel milk has always been known in the Middle East, but the accessibility for the wider public has been limited… Our goal is to promote the benefits of camel milk as a natural and pure resource of the region, and as a healthy alternative to cow’s milk.” says Mutasher Al Badry, the manager of business development at Al Nassma, a sister company of Camelicious that distributes fine chocolates made with camel’s milk.

Camel’s milk has 3x more Vitamin C and 10x more iron than cow’s milk; it is low in lactose and studies show that it can treat maladies like diabetes and Crohn’s disease.

Camelicious hopes, that when the time comes, it will be able to woo over American consumers with camel milk’s healthy properties in fun flavors like chocolate, strawberry, saffron, date, and original.

The Campaign for Real Milk is a project of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a nutrition education non-profit based in Washington, D.C. Fan the Campaign for Real Milk on Facebook.

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Australian Reporter Details Experience Drinking Camel Milk for One Month

PJ Madam, a reporter for Australian news program Sunday Night, drank unpasteurized camel milk for one month and detailed her experience on Yahoo!: “This is a story about camels, their milk, and my bowel moments” she starts.

PJ writes that although she has repeatedly tested negative to allergies, she has experienced “…cramps, sharp pain, bloating followed by bathroom dramas” for the past 10 years.

“It’s humiliating and frustrating,” she writes, and it was enough to convince her to see if camel milk could help alleviate her symptoms. The sale of raw milk is illegal in Australia but she was able to find the country’s only dairy farmer from whom she bought bottles plastered with ‘not fit for human consumption’ labels, making it her choice whether to drink it or not.

After personally seeing how clean the farm is and speaking with the farmer about how he tests his milk for dangerous bacteria every day, she decided to experiment with drinking one glass of raw camel milk for breakfast every day for one month. She writes: “After a month, my stomach symptoms didn’t stop entirely, but they weren’t as severe. Very little cramping, and the bloating disappeared.” Plus, she almost instantly saw a flat stomach: “It was as if I’d been secretly doing up to 300 sit-ups a day and overnight I’d gained a washboard effect.”

Her personal experience seems to fit with the experiences of those she interviewed prior to her experiment, all of whom shared stories of the health benefits of camel milk to treat their Common Variable Immune Deficiency or children’s asthma or autism.

The Campaign for Real Milk is a project of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a nutrition education non-profit based in Washington, D.C. Fan the Campaign for Real Milk on Facebook.

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Raw Camel Milk Packs a Punch of Good Health

Those who believe that raw cow milk is a healthy, nutritious food should consider raw camel milk. In the Middle East, many believe camel milk has curative powers and it is so prized that it is saved for special occasions and for when houseguests drop by.

Although camel milk is not as popular with American raw milk drinkers as cow or goat, it is starting to become available in the US – in both pasteurized and unpasteurized forms. Of those who have tried it, some strongly believe the anti-inflammatory properties of camel milk (especially unpasteurized) helps improve brain function and can help with autism. See our previous blog which details one family’s testimony, How Raw Camel Milk Helped Her Daughters.

One special type of camel milk, colostrum, is especially packed with nutrients. Colostrum is the first milk that comes out of the female camel when her baby is born, so it is extra nutritious in order to get the new baby healthy and strong as quickly as possible.

“It’s the ultimate superfood,” explains one camel milk vendor, who sells colostrum for a whopping $40 per 16oz bottle – yet sells out within a matter of hours.

The Campaign for Real Milk is a project of the nutrition education non-profit, The Weston A. Price Foundation. Donate to help fund research into the benefits of nutrient dense foods.  westonaprice.org/lab

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