Dairy suing FDA over raw milk interstate ban

Organic Pastures filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for allegedly failing to act on its four-year-old petition to amend a law banning sales of raw milk-based dairy products across state lines. Under federal law, FDA is required to respond to such requests within 180 days.

The suit (Case Number 1:2012cv02019), filed in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of California, Dec. 12, names U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg as defendants.

Located near Fresno, Calif., Organic Pastures is the nation's largest raw milk dairy. It markets raw milk, butter, cream and cheese, as well as organic beef and raw almonds. It filed a petition in December 2008, requesting an amendment to CFR 1240.61, which prohibits distribution of dairy products made from unpasteurized milk across state lines. 

In its original request, Organic Pastures said raw milk tested, inspected, regulated and labeled for retail in one state allowing raw milk sales should be able to transport products to other states also allowing raw milk and raw-milk-based dairy product sales.

According to the California Department of Food & Agriculture website, Organic Pastures’ products were last subjects of statewide recalls in September 2012, May 2012 and November 2011, due to potential health risks related to campylobacter bacteria and E. coli O157:H7.