State Orders Halt To Eastleigh Farm’s Raw Milk Sales
The state has ordered a Northside dairy to stop selling raw milk after a test revealed high levels of bacteria in a sample.
The milk, from Eastleigh Farm on Edmands Road, had 15 times the allowable limit of coliform, according to a cease-and-desist order that was in effect yesterday.
While the state says that kind of contamination is not unusual and is easy to correct, Eastleigh owner Doug Stephan disputes the accuracy of the test.
“We have our own milk tests that are done every week,” Stephan said. “The report that the state had came from a testing facility that’s connected to a company that, shall we say, is not eager to have me selling raw milk. The tests that we had showed that our counts were practically zero.”
The sample in question was taken March 19 by Dairy Marketing Services, or DMS.
Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner Scott Soares last night said there is no reason to suspect any wrongdoing on DMS’s part.
“We’ve never seen any indications of that,” Soares said, noting that DMS is certified by the FDA.
A representative of Dairy Marketing Services, which has its eastern regional office in Syracuse, N.Y., could not be reached late yesterday.
Soares said Eastleigh has a relatively good record of quality.
The farm started selling raw milk a year ago after Stephan fought for a permit from Framingham’s Board of Health.
“They actually have been OK,” Soares said. “It could be just one incident where there was some contamination that turned up in the milk. Sometimes that’s all it takes.”
He said the state will “perhaps once a month shut off a dairy based on high counts.”
He said high bacteria counts could lead to illness “or worse” in people who drink the contaminated milk.
“Ultimately, the most vulnerable populations are the very young, the very old and the immune-compromised,” he said.
Since there’s higher associated risk with drinking raw milk over pasteurized, Soares said it’s especially important for dairies to be licensed and for regulators to stay on top of bacteria counts.
Stephan said the shutdown is “giving us a black eye.”
“I’m proud of what we’re doing and selling,” he said. “We have probably the cleanest milk in the state.”
Eastleigh Farm announced the temporary shutdown on its website, saying it expects to reopen next Monday.
Stephan said he met yesterday with a group of milk producers. They are worried, he said, about how large milk companies are reacting to how “the little farmer milk stores are having such success because it’s what people want.”
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