Organic Pastures is the country’s largest single producer of “raw milk,” or milk that has not been through a pasteurization process. According to a report in the Food Poisoning Bulletin, Organic Pastures has filed suit against the Federal Food and Drug Administration for its failure to respond to a petition that would change the law that bans sales of raw milk over state lines.
Why Is the FDA Being Sued?
The suit is meant to force the FDA to make a ruling on the company’s petition to be allowed to sell raw milk products to states other than California. The suit alleges that many states allow the sale of raw milk, but federal law prohibits it from traveling over state lines, so sales are limited to the home state of a company. Organic Pastures would like to see that ruling changed so that it can sell milk in other states that allow raw milk sales.
The Issues with Raw Milk
Raw milk has been banned in some states due to fears of dangerous germs that may be present in unpasteurized milk products. E.coli, Campylobacter and Salmonella are common pathogens found in untreated milk and can lead to serious injury or even death for consumers. Organic Pastures has already experienced two recalls in 2012 for possible Campylobacter contamination in its milk, one of which resulted in 10 people becoming ill.
In the past, “milk sickness” had an incredibly high fatality rate, particularly among nursing mothers and babies. Milk sickness is the name given to tremetol poisoning, which occurs when cows ingest white snakeroot, effectively poisoning their milk supply. Today, milk sickness has been almost eradicated thanks to testing and treatment of milk products before they are released to the public.
Pasteurization is the process named after the famed scientist Louis Pasteur, who perfected the process in 1862. Pasteurization involves heating milk to a high temperature for a specific amount of time then cooling it quickly. This kills the vast majority of microbes that may be present in the milk and that may cause disease. Raw milk is not subject to pasteurization, so any microbes already present in the milk will not be killed before it reaches consumers.
The determination of Organic Pastures to send raw milk across state lines is problematic for several reasons. First, if the milk is shipped improperly, bacteria may have a better chance to grow during the shipping period. This phenomenon can only be worsened by longer shipping times. Second, by petitioning for the right to sell raw milk in other states, Organic Pastures is opening itself to incredibly complicated lawsuits if someone in another state sickens or dies from using the company’s products.
A personal injury attorney can represent someone who has been the victim of a defective product. It is very important for these victims to secure good legal counsel immediately, as product liability cases can have very short statutes of limitations and victims can quickly lose their right to sue.