Real Raw Milk Facts

California: El Dorado County Farmers Challenge Raw Milk Food Regulations



Carlos Alcalá from the Sacramento Bee reported on a controversy over the legality of herdshares in California. In the story, Pattie Chelseth says she should be free to sell raw milk. But the state ordered her to stop, citing food safety laws. She is proposing a local ordinance to allow it. From the story:

Similar sentiments are expressed throughout the state, said Shermain Hardesty, director of UC Davis’ Small Farms Program.

Local food isn’t necessarily healthy food, said Bill Marler, a Seattle food safety attorney.

“What these kind of ordinances are trying to do is ‘let me do whatever I want to do because I believe (that) because my product is local it’s safe,’ ” Marler said. “And that’s baloney.”

Marler is a sponsor of, a website Lyle cited in support of state rules.

People are unaware of the dangers of uninspected foods because they don’t see the consequences, Marler said.

“I’ve been in a lot of ICUs, I’ve been at funerals, I’ve seen children die because of what’s in the food,” he said.

“Regulation is not a bad thing,” Marler added.

Hardesty agreed that there are options besides relaxing all the regulations.

She favors establishing smaller meat-processing plants to aid small producers and is studying possible rule changes that would establish different, but safe, standards for produce that isn’t widely distributed.

Raw milk is a different question, she said.

“I think that would require a tremendous amount of research to justify that,” she said.

Chelseth is unconvinced. She believes the rules only benefit big farms, where many food pathogens originate.

“If it’s about public safety, my milk is clean,” she said.

“I refuse to be underground,” she said. “I’ll go to jail, and I won’t drink anything but raw milk.”

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