Harassment of Raw Milk Farmers in Pennsylvania and New YorkAugust 12, 2007
Starting from Scratch with Small-Scale Cheese ProductionSeptember 30, 2007
Aug. 17, 2007
WORCESTER, N.Y. — Autumn Valley Farm announces that it has received a clean bill of health from the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets and will immediately resume on-site raw milk sales to its consumers. Autumn Valley Farm holds a Department permit to legally sell raw milk, and had voluntarily suspended sales after the Department’s Food Laboratory detected the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in a routine sample taken on July 16, 2007. No illnesses were associated with Autumn Valley Farm milk, and suspending sales was strictly a precautionary measure. The Department’s subsequent testing has not detected any additional pathogens and the Farm has been given permission to resume sales.
“We would like to thank all our customers for their patience and understanding while our milk sales were suspended, and to welcome everyone back now that we’re up and running again,” states co-owner Lori McGrath. “We pride ourselves on our clean operations and run an immaculate farm. Our customers love our milk and were a bit upset when we had to stop sales, but everyone understands that the state has to be pacified because the Agriculture Department is deathly afraid that any kind of an outbreak will hurt the commercial milk industry,” continues McGrath. “What people may not realize is that Listeria is virtually everywhere in the environment and in our homes – it’s probably in many people’s kitchens, and other people may be disease-free carriers. Of all the Listeria strains only monocytogenes actually causes disease in humans, and even that is
pretty rare. And in fact, the Center for Disease Control reported that from 1973 to 2005 there were absolutely no Listeria illnesses at all from drinking raw milk,” says McGrath.
The Department’s web site indicates that Autumn Valley Farm is the third raw milk permit holder in the state to suspend sales in 2007 due to possible L. monocytogenes contamination, and an additional farm suspended raw milk sales due to possible Campylobacter contamination. However, no illnesses were reported from consumption of any milk or milk products from the affected farms and all are presumed to be back in operation.
“I’m a little concerned that the Agriculture Department may be crying ‘Wolf’ a bit too often,” states McGrath. “There’s always a danger that the public may just start ignoring all these warnings after they realize that no-one is actually getting sick, and that might be problematic if there ever is a serious contamination issue in raw milk or milk from the grocery store.” “Clean raw milk from pasture-fed cows really is an amazing food,” states Sally Fallon, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation. “Clean raw milk can have lower bacteria counts than pasteurized milk and contains the healthy bacteria of lactic-acid fermentation, not the bacteria of spoilage. These probiotic bacteria, active enzymes and other defense mechanisms out-compete any invading pathogens, causing them to simply disappear from the milk. You might be able to barely detect them at first, but within a day they’re just gone. These probiotics nourish your digestive system, contribute to your over-all good health and keep you from getting sick,” continues Fallon.
According to the FDA’s manual for detecting and enumerating L. monocytogenes in foods, the samples first undergo an enrichment and incubation process in order to culture a detectable amount of bacteria. During the enrichment process the samples are chemically altered to specifically encourage the growth of Listeria and prevent the growth of competing bacteria, but the process also disables the protection mechanisms present in the raw milk. The samples are then heated to 86 degrees Fahrenheit and are cultured at that temperature for two days. Autumn Valley Farm reports that an independent laboratory tested raw milk samples taken from the farm’s bulk tank on July 23rd, and as an extra precaution the samples were cultured for an additional day beyond the FDA’s requirements. The independent laboratory detected no viable Listeria cells or other pathogens, and the state’s subsequent test samples were also free of contamination.
“The state’s detection methods don’t take these special properties of clean raw milk into account and treat the samples like any other processed and lifeless food,” says Fallon. “Raw milk from small family-run farms is immediately refrigerated after milking and is typically sold within a day or two – the freshest milk you can find. The conditions and the stress that the milk undergoes during testing bear no resemblance to how the milk is treated in the real world, which explains why they can claim to find contamination but nobody ever gets sick. Since all raw milk permit-holder samples are now apparently being handled in the state laboratory in Albany using an older manual measuring process I’m hoping that these unnecessary contamination alerts will stop with a little education at the state level.”
About Autumn Valley Farm
Autumn Valley Farm has forty-four cows grazing on 160 acres and is owned by Lori and Darren McGrath. Autumn Valley Farm has been in operation for the past six years and has held a raw milk permit for eight months.
About the Weston A. Price Foundation
The Weston A. Price Foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charity founded in 1999 to disseminate the research of nutrition pioneer Dr. Weston Price, and is dedicated to restoring nutrient-dense foods to the human diet through education, research and activism. It supports a number of movements that contribute to this objective including accurate nutrition instruction, organic and biodynamic farming, pasture-feeding of livestock, community-supported farms, honest and informative labeling, prepared parenting and nurturing therapies. The Foundation has local
chapters in all fifty states and in over ten countries.
Autumn Valley Farm
1644 County Highway #39, Worcester, New York, 12197
The Weston A. Price Foundation