FTCLDF Hires Jim Turner to Litigate Raw Butter Petition


The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) has hired veteran Washington, D.C. attorney, Jim Turner, to litigate an FDA Citizen Petition seeking to lift the interstate ban on raw butter for human consumption. FTCLDF and Mark McAfee, president of Organic Pastures Dairy Company (OPDC), filed the petition with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on July 1, 2016; to date, FDA has yet to provide a substantive response.

The Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) and the Communities Alliance for Responsible Eco-agriculture (CARE) are providing funding for Turner’s legal expenses. WAPF is the leading advocacy group in the U.S. for raw milk and raw milk products, including butter. CARE is a Pennsylvania-based food buyers club that has long been a strong supporter of freedom of food choice, especially raw dairy products.

Turner is no stranger to FDA, having dealt with the agency on various matters since the 1960s. His law practice consists of representing businesses, individuals, and consumer groups on regulatory issues concerning food, drug, health product safety and environmental matters.

In 1970 he was largely responsible for getting Cyclamate, an artificial sweetener, pulled off the market. For nearly ten years he fought against FDA and the G.D. Searle Corporation in an effort to take the artificial sweetener, aspartame, off the market. There have been more complaints filed with FDA about aspartame than any other food product.

Federal law requires FDA to file a response to a citizen petition within six months after receiving a copy. In December 2016 FDA sent FTCLDF and McAfee a letter stating it needed more time to review the petition; in the two years since, the agency has sent nothing to the two petitioners. If Turner can’t convince FDA to issue a substantive response to the petition, he will likely file a writ of mandamus motion in a federal district court to have the court compel FDA to respond. If FDA rejects the petition, petitioners can appeal the agency’s decision to a federal appellate court.

There has been a federal ban on raw milk and raw milk products for human consumption (other than raw cheese aged sixty days) in interstate commerce since 1987 when FDA issued a regulation (21 CFR 1240.61) establishing the ban in response to a court order. Three arguments Turner can make to lift the ban are: that FDA exceeded its authority in banning raw butter since the case resulting in the court order, Public Citizen v. Heckler, only concerned fluid milk products (milk, cream, yogurt) not manufactured milk products (butter, cheese); that federal statute (21 CFR 341) prohibits FDA from issuing a federal ‘standard of identity’ regulation for butter [standards of identity are requirements prescribing what a food product must contain to be marketed–pasteurization is one such requirement]; and that there isn’t a single foodborne illness outbreak attributed to the consumption of commercially produced raw butter [OPDC has sold over 2 million pounds of raw butter since 2001 without incident]. FDA is basically claiming that its power to regulate communicable disease allows it to ban a food that makes few, if any, sick.

The butter petition is a great opportunity to weaken the interstate raw dairy ban — a significant step towards the day when the transport of all raw dairy products across state lines will be legal. Jim Turner has the experience and ability to make that happen.

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Image from video: Jim Turner Recalls Rumsfeld Meeting over Nutrasweet Toxicity, published on YouTube October 7, 2011

Raw Milk Cheese is Heating Up

What the International Cheese Market is Telling us About Demand for Artisanal Raw Milk Cheese

With the ever-increasing popularity of raw milk, raw milk cheese is also gaining notoriety. The FDA’s current policies are not friendly to imported or domestically made raw milk cheeses. So a growing population turns to a black market for these artisanal cheeses.

Apparently, this issue is larger than a US cheese crisis.

According to the January 7, 2016 article in Vogue, “Earlier last year, a criminal cheese gang made international headlines when the Russian police busted it for hauling $30 million of contraband cheddar. With Vladimir Putin’s ban on Western food products, Russians have been getting creative about procuring their beloved banned cheeses. Sound nutty? The U.S. also has a list of banned cheeses—primarily because of health concerns—resulting in a black market where cheese delicacies can be had if you know where to look and are willing to pay up.”

The fact that a publication such as Vogue is picking up on the raw milk cheese black market is evidence that the government’s prohibition on the coveted cheeses is weakening. It is encouraging to see the attitude shifting enough that people are taking control of their own food choices.

With many resources available for people to connect directly with their farmer, people are empowered to use networking to secure the foods of their choice from the producers of their choice.

Now that raw milk has gained in popularity and supply, but is still heavily regulated, many people turn to cheese making classes to learn how to make the delicacies of raw milk cheese for themselves. Farms, buying clubs, herdshares and homesteads are making it easier to find raw milk. Cow, goat, sheep and Italian water buffalo milk each make a special raw milk cheese.

Linda and Larry Faillace, expert farmers and artisan cheese makers, teach classes on a wide range of cheeses. The popularity of their classes proves that despite tough regulations, raw milk cheese is a growing trend. Their classes offer the best antidote to the bans so that those who want to can experience the delight of the traditional, celebrated cheeses.

Do you need a source for fresh, raw milk for your own cheese-making? We have just the resource for you!

 To learn more about raw milk and other nutrient dense foods, visit westonaprice.org

D.C. Foodies Deprived of Delicious Raw Milk Cheeses

In the United States, any “raw” milk cheeses sold must be aged for 60 days (with heavier restrictions on other soft cheeses, like brie), according to requirements by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). A recent DCist article interviews cheese connoisseurs and other foodies in the Washington D.C. area about why they prefer raw milk cheeses.

Amy Gomez, regional specialty coordinator for Whole Foods who oversees the mid-Atlantic region’s cheese program, says that raw milk cheeses often have a “more well rounded flavor profile, more complex” – as the live cultures found in raw milk cheeses can deepen the flavor.

Mike Bowers, owner of Bowers Fancy Dairy Products in Washington D.C.’s trendy Eastern Market, points out that the FDA’s restrictions is preventing American consumers from experiencing “a lot of really great European cheese.”

Thankfully, the article notes, there are a few sources where avid foodies can get the favored products including a small buying club, Grassfed on The Hill and, outside the district, P.A. Bowen Farmstead.

Read more via DCist.

To learn more about raw milk and other nutrient dense foods, visit westonaprice.org

Is the FDA Quietly Beginning a Campaign Against Raw Milk Cheese?

Maybe it is because it is considered “artisanal” or maybe because it is camouflaged in grocers’ coolers among other cheeses but, for whatever reason, unpasteurized cheeses have never produced quite the same uproar as has raw milk. That might change in the future – David Gumpert is watching the FDA and, on his blog The Complete Patient, he suggests that the FDA is quietly gathering information to begin a campaign against raw milk cheese.

Gumpert noticed that the FDA recently posted a notice on its website that it is seeking input to help it “minimize the impact of harmful bacteria in cheeses made from unpasteurized milk” and is particularly interested in “learning more about the standards and practices in use by…the growing artisanal cheese manufacturing community.”

While this might seem to be an innocent start of an ongoing dialogue between the FDA and the cheese community, Gumpert points out that the FDA does not currently have any evidence of illnesses caused by raw milk cheeses. Gumpert suspects that the FDA appears to be looking for data that will allow it to ultimately try to ban raw milk cheeses.

Read more here.

Support the Campaign for Real Milk, join the Weston A. Price Foundation, today!

Cheese of Choice Coalition Fighting to Protect Raw Milk Cheese Again

In 2010, Oldways Preservation and Trust joined forces with the American Cheese Society, the Cheese Importers Association of America and Whole Foods to create the Cheese of Choice Coalition in order to fight against the FDA as it considered changing the 60-day aging rule for raw milk cheese.

In August, the FDA began to again reexamine cheese guidelines, including the aging of cheese on wooden boards and allowances for nontoxigenic E. coli that have barred the import of Roquefort, Morbier, Tomme de Savoie and St. Nectaire until producers can meet the new, stricter standard.

In response, the Cheese of Choice Coalition has come together again to launch a website that aims to be a comprehensive, educational resource about cheese, including information on regulations and a cheese database for retailers and consumers.

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. 

How to Pick the Healthiest Cheeses

As one would imagine, raw milk cheese made from only a handful of basic, wholesome ingredients is superior in quality and health than pasteurized cheeses made with processed additives.

Those looking to buy only the highest quality cheeses should also keep an eye out for cheese made from pastured animals. According to a recent article, High Quality Raw Milk Cheese is Healthy, cheese made from grass-fed cows has the ideal omega-6 to omega-3 fat ratio of 2:1 whereas pasteurized cheese has a 25:1 ratio, which is already excessive in Americans’ fatty diets. Furthermore, grass-fed cheese “…is considerably higher in calcium, magnesium, beta-carotene, and vitamins A, C, D and E.”

Gouda, Brie and Edam cheese are safe bets. Read it for more tips on how to pick out the healthiest cheeses.

The Campaign for Real Milk is a project of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a nutrition education non-profit based in Washington, D.C. To learn more about raw milk and other nutrient dense foods, attend one of the upcoming Wise Traditions conferences.

Popular Wisconsin Raw Cheese Producer Stops Production

In August, Wisconsin-based Rush Creek Reserve announced it would stop making its popular raw milk cheese, due to uncertainty over pending FDA regulations related to raw cheese.

“Food safety officials have been unpredictable, at best, in their recent treatment of soft, raw-milk cheeses, and until our industry is given clear and consistent guidance, we are forced to stop making these cheeses,” said co-owner Andy Hatch.

He added that he hoped the halt in production would be temporary, but loyal customers have already taken to Twitter to express their outrage: @cheesegeek wrote, “The premature death of Rush Creek Reserve is the canary in the coal mine for all American raw milk cheeses.”

The Campaign for Real Milk is a project of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a nutrition education non-profit based in Washington, D.C. To learn more about raw milk and other nutrient dense foods, attend one of the upcoming Wise Traditions conferences.

FDA bans French cheeses

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently moved to prohibit the sale of cheeses people have happily made and consumed for millennia.  The agency claims these cheeses full of healthful bacteria are too risky. They issued a ban on imports of French cheeses that exceed “FDA approved” bacteria counts.

The artisan cheese making process involves inoculating milk with select bacteria and encouraging their proliferation to make a safe and delicious product. The FDA’s move means that even such probiotic bacteria now falls under suspicion.

The rule is not new; it has been in place since 2010 but it is only now being enforced leading to the confiscation and removal of highly coveted fine French cheeses.

David Gumpert gives an excellent update and analysis on the situation on his blog.

The Campaign for Real Milk is a project of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a nutrition education non-profit based in Washington, D.C. To learn more about raw milk and other nutrient dense foods, attend one of the upcoming Wise Traditions conferences.