The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens


White House spreads word of illegal raw milk sales from Pa.

In a signal of the Obama administration's opposition to the sale of raw milk, the White House has distributed a Justice Department news release announcing that a Pennsylvania milk producer has been found to be illegally distributing unpasteurized milk across state lines.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania found that Daniel Allgyer, who does business as Rainbow Acres Farm and Rainbow Valley Farms in Kinzers, Pa., violated federal law through the use of a "cow-sharing" scheme.

While some states, including Pennsylvania, permit the sale of unpasteurized or "raw" milk, it is illegal to transport unpasteurized milk across state lines. Unpasteurized milk can contain a wide variety of harmful bacteria, including listeria, e.coli, salmonella, campylobacter, yersinia and brucella, the release said.

According to the news release, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that Allgyer was packaging raw milk in unlabeled containers, and distributing it for human consumption in interstate commerce, in violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and the Public Health Services Act

Despite a warning from the FDA, the news release said, Allgyer tried to evade federal regulations by creating a private membership organization that he used to enter into cow-sharing agreements with his customers.

In the order granting summary judgment in the government’s favor, the court found that the cow-sharing agreements were “merely a subterfuge,” and ordered Allgyer and his associates to stop, the Justice Department said.

“The FDA has determined that drinking raw milk can cause significant harm,” said Tony West, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s civil division.

"Working with our federal partners, we will bring enforcement actions like this one to ensure that the American food supply is safe and consumers are not exposed to such risks," West said. "We are pleased that the court has ordered Mr. Allgyer to stop distributing unpasteurized milk across state lines.”

Advocates for raw milk contend that pasteurization reduces the food value of milk and have campaigned to change laws to allow grocery store sales and movement of raw milk across state lines. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, has become an advocate of the liberalization of raw milk laws. Paul's position appears to have helped him in his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

Major dairy farm and processor organizations oppose the sale of raw milk on a large scale basis out of fear that an outbreak of disease could reduce all milk sales. The White House recently announced that the Obama administration would not support a liberalization of federal raw milk rules.