China food safety activist gets 2.5 years

In 2008, six children died and nearly 300,000 were sickened by baby formula tainted with melamine. The industrial chemical, used in the manufacture of plastics and fertilizer, was added to watered-down milk to increase profits and fool inspectors testing for protein. Several dairy industry figures were prosecuted and punished, including three people given the death penalty.

Zhao Lianhai (right, exactly as shown) pushed for greater official accountability and compensation for victims and their families after the 2008 scandal that had Chinese officials repeatedly saying they’d do better at food safety basics. He organized a website to collect information about the poisonings, and was taken away by police in November 2009.

Wire services are reporting that Lianhai has now been sentenced to 2.5 years in prison after being found guilty of inciting social disorder.

Lawyer Li Fangping said,

"The crimes he was accused of were nothing more than what regular citizens would do to defend their rights."

Li said prosecutors leveled three charges against Zhao: That he organized a gathering of a dozen parents of sick children at a restaurant, held a paper sign in front of a court and factory involved in the scandal as a protest, and gave media interviews in a public place.

Haze strikes Minn. raw-milk producer in court

The StarTribune reports that farmer Mike Hartmann, who sold raw milk linked to an outbreak of illness caused by dangerous E. coli bacteria, repeatedly told government attorneys in court Wednesday that he couldn’t remember simple details about his dairy operation that is under a bitterly contested impoundment order.

Among the things he said he couldn’t remember were his home address and the address of his dairy farm and why he claimed in a dispute with the state nine years ago not to own the farm he now says he’s owned since 1974. He also said he forgot where he learned how to sterilize his milking equipment.

Hartmann has been at odds with the Minnesota Agriculture Department, which impounded several hundred tubs of milk, ice cream and other foods in June after an E. coli outbreak sickened eight people and sent some to the hospital.

Hartmann also shed little light on some sanitation issues. Hartmann said his cows’ udders were cleaned regularly to prevent infection. When Kimberly Middendorf, an assistant state attorney general, asked about photos showing blotches on the udders, he said he couldn’t be sure whether they were skin pigment, dirt or manure.

Asked about state food safety regulations, Hartmann said he considered many of them "arbitrary" rather than beneficial. He also said that, as a farmer selling products direct to consumers, he believed he was exempt from the state rules.
Middendorf said that while farmers are allowed to make some sales direct to consumers from their farms without a retail license, they aren’t exempt from any other safety regulations.

Salmonella found on equipment that washes crates at Oregon dairy; 23 sickened

The News-Review reports that salmonella that contaminated packages at Umpqua Dairy’s milk processing plant in Roseburg was found in equipment that washes and sanitizes crates receiving packaged milk and juice, Doug Feldkamp said Wednesday.

Feldkamp said he didn’t know how the salmonella got into the system, which state health and agriculture officials say has been cleaned and now meets safety standards.

The Oregon Public Health Division attribute 23 cases of salmonellosis in nine counties to the bacteria at the dairy. Two people were hospitalized. The cases date back to October of last year. Health officials say that they only last week traced the illnesses to the dairy.

The dairy shut down the Roseburg plant last week and voluntarily recalled products packaged there.

Raw-food raid highlights a hunger; ‘how can we not have the freedom to choose what we eat?’ one says. Regulators say the rules exist for safety and fairness

Watch the police in this action video raiding an organic grocery store. I was hoping one of them would hold their gun sideways so I’d really know they were serious as they walked through crates of arugula.

With no warning one weekday morning, investigators entered an organic grocery with a search warrant and ordered the hemp-clad workers to put down their buckets of mashed coconut cream and to step away from the nuts.

Then, guns drawn, four officers fanned out across Rawesome Foods in Venice. Skirting past the arugula and peering under crates of zucchini, they found the raid’s target inside a walk-in refrigerator: unmarked jugs of raw milk.

The Los Angeles Times has a feature on Sunday about how cartons of raw goat and cow milk and blocks of unpasteurized goat cheese were among the groceries seized in the June 30 raid by federal, state and local authorities — the latest salvo in the heated food fight over what people can put in their mouths.

On one side are government regulators, who say they are enforcing rules designed to protect consumers from unsafe foods and to provide a level playing field for producers. On the other side are "healthy food" consumers — a faction of foodies who challenge government science and seek food in its most pure form.

"This is not about restricting the public’s rights," said Nicole Neeser, program manager for dairy, meat and poultry inspection at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. "This is about making sure people are safe."

In the case of Rawesome, regulators allege that the group broke the law by failing to have the proper permits to sell food to the public. While the raid was happening at Rawesome, another went down at one of its suppliers, Healthy Family Farms in Ventura County. California agriculture officials said farm owner Sharon Palmer’s processing plant had not met standards to obtain a license.

30 now sick, 2 hospitalized, from Billy Goat raw milk

Lab tests performed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment have confirmed that raw milk from Longmont’s Billy Goat Dairy is responsible for an outbreak of bacterial illnesses in Boulder County.

Samples of the dairy’s unpasteurized milk tested positive for the strains of Campylobacter and E. coli that have now sickened 30 people, including two children who are hospitalized.

Chana Goussetis, spokeswoman for Boulder County Public Health, said

“Our main message, over and over, is that no matter what, there’s no way to ensure that unpasteurized milk is safe.”

A table of raw-milk related outbreaks is available at ?

Billy Goat raw milk sick climbs to 24

Billy Goat Dairy – most unappealing name for a place to buy milk – has an additional eight cases of E. coli O157:H7 and campylobacter linked to its raw goats milk, bringing the number of confirmed sick people to 24.

Two children were hospitalized in connection with the outbreak. One has been released; the other remains under observation, but health officials reported his condition is improving.

Raw goat milk sickens 16 in Colorado

A goat dairy in Longmont, Colorado, has been ordered to stop distributing raw milk products after 16 people became ill with both E. coli O157 and campylobacter.

Two children who drank goat milk from the Billy Goat Dairy required hospitalization, Boulder County Public Health reported Wednesday.

Of the people who reported becoming ill from consuming the milk products, lab tests confirmed the presence of campylobacter and E. coli O157, the health department said.

The Billy Goat Dairy operates a goat share program in which individuals buy a share of a goat and in return receive raw, unpasteurized milk. Health officials are contacting every household who participates in the goat share operation to determine if they became sick and to collect samples.

An updated table of raw-milk related outbreaks is available at ?

Raw milk, politicians and other things not to trust

Sol Erdozain, the early-rising person who puts together the food safety news (left, pretty much as shown, without the lab rat) is a senior in psychology at Kansas State. She was born and raised in Paraguay (that’s in South America, not Hawaii) and has been working with Powell and the barfblog gang for a couple of years.

Sol writes:

I don’t trust politicians. Maybe it’s because I’m from Paraguay and politicians there never look after the interests of the people they are supposed to represent.

This morning, reading an article from the Houston Chronicle, I was reminded of that distrust.

The article describes a bunch of policies that Republicans want to endorse or get rid of, among them only one addressing food safety;

“Protecting the right to access raw milk directly from the farmer.”

It stuck out for the wrong reasons.

What about protecting the right to be healthy? Especially for those who depend on others for protection, like children.

Recently, and not for the first time, raw milk has been linked to an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 and sickened people. Among them young children, who are at most risk of developing complications from E. coli.

So, how about protecting their rights too?

Brucellosis and listeria cases linked to raw milk in Delaware

The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) has identified simultaneous cases of brucellosis in a 58 year old female New Castle County resident and listeriosis in a 44 year old male in Sussex County. These illnesses are both bacterial infections which primarily affect those consuming or coming into contact with contaminated animals or animal products, most commonly the consumption of raw food or dairy products. In both instances, these patients had consumed raw dairy products prior to becoming ill, and the individual with listeria had also been handling raw poultry products. No other risk factors have been identified.

The brucella case was hospitalized and discharged. The listeria case is still admitted but stable.

DPH statewide inspections of retail food establishments are in place to protect consumers from purchasing or consuming raw dairy products, but unlawful distribution may still occur.

15 sick from raw milk in 2 Utah outbreaks

The Utah Department of Health announced Monday that two dairies in the state had sold contaminated milk that made 15 people ill.

Ropelato Dairy, 4019 W. 1800 South, was the source of the campylobacter outbreak that sickened nine people, according to spokespeople from the Utah Department of Agriculture and UDOH. Raw milk from a dairy in Richfield gave several people salmonella.

Glen Kinney, Weber- Morgan Health Department epidemiologist, said,

"Raw milk, no matter how carefully handled, has risks.”

I get the whole personal choice thing, and people are going to believe whatever they want about nutrition and wellness, exploited and nourished by the today’s medicine men who flog their wares through corporate offices and the ether of the Intertubes, but people get sick, especially kids. I just gave daughter Sorenne her wake-up bottle of whole milk, bought at the local Dillons grocery store and pasteurized. The difference between lettuce and raw milk is the availability of an easy fix to reduce the risks of foodborne illness – pasteurization.