Two California raw milk dairies filed a lawsuit yesterday against the state of California Department of Agriculture in an effort to stop AB1735 from going into effect. The law, which was passed by the California legislature, will require raw milk producers to reduce the number of coliform bacteria in bottled raw milk to 10 per milliliter.
In an article for the San Francisco Chronicle, Carol Ness wrote about the new law and the debate it has caused. She interviewed Department of Agriculture spokesman Jay Van Rein, who was quoted in the article as saying that the new standard for raw milk is, "just a matter of staying ahead of the curve on food safety."
The lawsuit contends that "it’s not technically possible nor economically feasible" for raw milk to meet such a low limit.
Van Rein, however, said California Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura has checked with his counterparts in Washington and Pennsylvania, which also have adopted a 10-coliform limit, "to make sure their dairies have been able to comply."
A quick search of the International Food Safety Network’s Barf Blog for "raw milk" shows that foodborne illness outbreaks traced back to raw milk are not uncommon. One would argue that stricter standards are not a bad thing.