Monday, March 22, 2010

Raw Milk Controversy and Food Recalls

Yesterday an article about raw milk on the front page of The Seattle Times caught my eye. I was shocked to learn the main farm in the raw milk controversy article was Dungeness Valley Creamery, which was linked with three E.coli cases in December.

When we go to Nash's farm on the Olympic Peninsula, I always stop at the Dungeness Valley Creamery Farm store. I buy a quart of milk, put it in my ice chest and carefully transport it home. I love the taste and if it weren't for this milk (and the goat mozzerella cheese from Port Madison Farm), I could be a serious vegan.

The photo above is from this farm. The barns and room where milk is bottled are extremely clean and I've never felt bad about buying this milk at the farm store, but when it comes to purchasing raw milk in grocery stores, I remember my mom totally freaking out over me buying raw milk at a little hole-in-the-wall health food store when I was in high school. I was a health food nerd in high school and often spent my allowance at these little stores.

"Your father's sister died from drinking raw milk," Mom told me as she poured the milk I'd bought down the drain. (Only later did I learn Dad's sister had died from something else, but Mom had obviously believed raw milk was the culprit.) I had no idea why I might die from it, but to this day, I can't purchase raw milk from a grocery store. It's passed through too many hands for me.

The Seattle Times article mentioned cases where other raw milk dairies had also been implicated. Two things the article failed to mention was:
  • Where the customers who got sick purchased their milk. Marlene's in Federal Way and Tacoma and Whole Foods sell Dungeness Valley Creamery milk.
  • How this food was transported home and the temperature in the refrigerators where it was store. I'm not blaming the victims, I'm just saying sometimes people are too casual and trusting when it comes to foods that need to be kept cold and consumed promptly.
Three final questions:
  • Would I buy this milk again? Yes. According to the article it wasn't certain these cases of E.coli came from the milk on the farm. There was no recall because it wasn't found in the milk, just from cow poo on the farm.
  • What do I think of this story about food contamination? I immediately wondered why the Seattle Times has not put the FDA's recall of more than 10,000 processed products because of salmonella on the front page.
  • Isn't this massive recall of processed foods newsworthy enough or did the paper see something negative about local foods as an opportunity to sell more papers?
I wonder why local milk and not the massive recall of processed foods that most consumers know absolutely nothing about made front page news.

No comments: