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Banned dairy gets raw deal

MY VIEW •ÊFirm says tests prove safety of unpasteurized milk

On Nov. 4, 2004, the Oregon Department of Agriculture, acting through Ron McKay, the department's administrator for food safety, approved the sale and distribution of Organic Pastures Dairy Co.'s raw milk and other raw dairy products if an Oregon Department of Agriculture-approved 'pet food' sticker was applied to each product container.

The approval letters did not specifically require a statement saying 'not for human consumption.' (These letters and e-mail communications have been copied to the Portland Tribune and are available upon request by calling 1-877-729-6455.)

As a result, until Dec. 22, 2005, Organic Pastures' raw dairy products were legally sold in Oregon retail stores with labels designating them as pet food. On that date, the company was notified it could no longer sell the products in Oregon.

Organic Pastures is a specialized dairy that is authorized to produce retail organic raw dairy products in California. Its products can be found in more than 300 California outlets, including Whole Foods and Wild Oats. Dairy-case managers have said that the company's raw milk consumers will not drink processed milk.

There are reasons for this. Pasteurized milk is devoid of digestive enzymes because of heating and processing. The good bacteria are all dead (releasing histamines from the dead bacteria that trigger asthma and allergies). Active antibodies, whole proteins and natural fats also have been changed, and they are no longer natural. These artificial changes can trigger serious reactions like lactose intolerance, asthma, allergies or malabsorption of minerals.

Raw milk does none of these things.

Now the Oregon Department of Agriculture has officially kicked Organic Pastures' raw dairy products out of Oregon.

But Organic Pastures was authorized by the department for the sale of pet food raw milk in Oregon. The Oregon Department of Agriculture now says that Organic Pastures' raw dairy products are illegal Ñ even though no laws were changed. This has caused embarrassment for Whole Foods and other natural stores, not to mention the Organic Pastures brand.

After 24 million servings and 1,100 pathogen and other bacteria tests in the last five years, not one illness has been reported to the state of California and not one pathogen has been detected in Organic Pastures' raw dairy products É ever. The milk is tested intensively by at least four state and federal agencies. When the cows never receive antibiotics and they are allowed to graze as they would in nature on clean pastures, there are no pathogens, and safe milk is assured.

We agree that there is plenty of unsafe raw milk out in the commercial dairy world. According to University of California at Davis researchers, 31 percent of all conventional farm milk tanks, when tested, contained human pathogens.

However, Organic Pastures produces natural raw milk that is very safe and consumed by thousands of healthy people every week in California.

By denying Oregonians a safe alternative and the ability to access Organic Pastures' raw milk as a pet food, raw milk consumers will have to go back underground to drink from untested dairies.

This is the ultimate head-in-the-sand action and shows a lack of appreciation for consumer rights and freedoms.

People can eat cat food if they want to, especially when it does not make them sick and people food does make them sick. It makes you really wonder if our government is interested in our immune health or our immune destruction.

If Oregonians want safe raw milk on retail shelves, they will need to fight for it by contacting their state agriculture department. Organic Pastures went to Oregon because of consumer demand. It will need to be brought back by consumer demand.

Mark McAfee is founder of Organic Pastures Dairy Co. (www.organicpastures.com) in Fresno, Calif.