No More Raw Milk at Whole Foods Market!

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I found this article published by Kimberly Hartke, publicist at the Weston A. Price Foundation. It's a conversation with Mark McAfee, the owner of Organic Pastures the largest raw dairy in the US, about how raw milk and how it has been taken out of Whole Food Markets.

Here is it, hopfully it informes.
In True Form, McAfee Makes lemoneade Out of Lemons
by Kimberly Hartke, Publicist Weston A. Price Foundation

Mark McAfee, owner of the largest raw dairy in the nation, Organic Pastures, dropped me a surprising email last night. Whole Foods Market, with six hours notice, is dropping raw milk products from its dairy case. Not only in Mark’s state of California, but in Washington state, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. They already removed raw milk from Florida stores, where it was labeled and sold as “pet milk.”
Pennsylvania Whole Foods stores had only recently started carrying raw milk.
Apparently it is a national corporate insurance policy issue, which they are committed to working out. Whole Foods does expect to be able to re-stock store shelves with the product once they have resolved the issue with insurers.
The situation has left raw dairymen to scramble and find new points of sale for their product.

Regulatory Climate May Put the Squeeze on the Market

And, after what has been happening in Wisconsin and other states lately, it seems that there may be some FDA involvement in this corporate “decision.” Unlike ground beef, spinach, peanuts, peppers, and the other obvious sources of mass foodborne illness, the FDA singles out raw milk as “inherently dangerous,” in spite of a lack of evidence. This hostile regulatory climate seems to inform corporate decisions, makes insurers leery and also directs the actions the state regulators.
When Florida stores stopped carrying “pet milk” callers to Whole Foods Corporate were told everything from, “it was a profit driven decision” to “call the USDA if you want more information.”
A blog reader wrote me earlier this week that several Washington state dairies, Jackie’s Jersey Milk and Dungeness Creamery are experiencing business disruptions at the hands the state health officials with recall and shutdowns. She sees this as a “pattern of harassment.”
Wisconsin farm share programs are under a state of siege, because of the harsh bureaucratic interpretation of statute that began suddenly last summer.

Organic Pastures Responds with Optimism and Flexiblity, Offers Customer Hotline 

Signs Tell How to Find Milk

As a courtesy to their customers, Whole Foods is placing signs in the dairy case, to let people know where to find their favorite farm fresh dairy brand. The Organic Pastures sign has their 1-877-RAWMILK customer service hotline. The Claravale Farm sign appears to have other health food stores listed. This photo was taken for me by Christine Chessen, founder of CREMA, the California Raw Milk Association, at a Bay area Whole Foods Market location where she shops.
Here is the official statement, released by Organic Pastures late last night:
On Friday, March 12, 2010, with 6 hours notice; Whole Foods corporate offices notified Organic Pastures and all other raw milk producers nationally, that they would not be able to carry any raw dairy products.  This decision affected the states of CA, WA, PA, and CT.  They told us that they love and support raw milk in California but their insurance company would not insure them until a nation-wide food safety plan was developed for all raw dairy producers.  Not a single pathogen, complaint or food safety issue has caused this to occur… this is simply an issue of corporate insurance not allowing a vibrant whole food to be sold.
Organic Pastures already has an active food safety plan and we have submitted it to Whole Foods.  This food safety plan has been in affect for over a year and was developed in cooperation with Whole Foods Food Safety Auditors, Dr. Ron Hull, PhD and Dr. Ted Beals, MD (Internationally renowned food safety experts), our extensive experience producing raw milk for over 10 years and industry laboratories.  However, our compliance with all State and Federal codes and regulations and our active food safety plan was not enough to prevent Whole Foods from removing all raw dairy products from the shelf… effective 8AM Saturday, March 13, 2010.

Experts Agree, Food Safety is in Everyone’s Best Interest

Christine Chessen, of California Raw Milk Association points to the need for food safety plans for all raw milk producers. She fears that a raw dairy not doing proper testing, can be the downfall of others who are producing safe milk and using food safety measures. She suspects a case in Connecticut which involved a large multi-million dollar lawsuit may be at the root of the insurance carrier’s skittishness.
The Weston A. Price Foundation recommends knowing the source of your milk, if you choose to consume raw dairy, make sure the cows are tested for animal diseases, the milk is tested for pathogens and that the farm is feeding only grass and hay, and that the cows are on pasture, with plenty of sunshine.
Mark McAfee is familiar with challenges, and he rises above them like no one I have ever known. Here is what he has to say:
“This may appear to be a anti-raw milk move by Whole Foods. A deeper look exposes something perhaps very positive. Our best advocates and biggest supporters work for Whole Foods Market. They were the first store to carry OPDC products in CA in 2002. Walter Robb, COO has been a courageous and a steadfast consumer and fighter for raw milk in California with powerful testimony at the state legislature during SB 201 hearings in 2008.”
“In the end, it is hoped that this event will usher in a Whole Foods and OPDC led set of Raw Milk Safety Standards  to assist ( not scare or intimidate ) the raw milk producers nationally to rise above liability concerns and have the highest level of confidence in raw milk safety. From all challenges can come very good and welcomed and needed progress. This is one of those times.”
“Every raw milk producer needs a food safety plan. Each one will be different depending on their conditions….but everyone needs to have a RAMP program (Risk Analysis and Management Program, takes into account the human immune system, it doesn’t rely on kill steps like a HACCP program). This is reality and with a RAMP program everyone can sleep better at night including consumers. This takes away just one more thing that the FDA or anyone else can say negative about raw milk. Whole Foods and OPDC in partnership established a RAMP program at OPDC more than a year ago. This program has allowed OPDC to pass the intensive, less than 10 coliform, standards and other measures of cleanliness. We are working around the clock with Whole Foods to set this standard and bring the raw milk back to the shelves quickly.  In the books of history this seemingly negative event, should be counted as a bench mark and new day for America and food safety. RAMP to the future. RAMP is a tool, not to be feared, but like a tractor or milking machine… a tool to be used to make our lives better, more secure and healthier.”
In another email, Mark adds enthusiastically,

We are professional organic lemonade makers. This box of short notice lemons is already making some great juice.  When ever there is a shake-up…the changes result in higher sales and more support for raw milk.”

It is the remarkable resilience of men like McAfee, that are ultimately going to win the day for raw milk.

Organic Pastures has a Costumer Service line to help Californians to find raw milk: 1-877-RAW-MILK.

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