The self-styled “Freedom Riders” picked a poor time to demonstrate over the FDA’s ban on the interstate shipment of raw milk. According to a November 28 press release by the organization, “On December 8, a group of mothers and others will defy the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) ban on “distributing” fresh milk across state lines by transporting 100 gallons of raw milk from Wisconsin to Chicago’s Independence Park and distributing it to customers waiting at the park. Rally time is 11:30am – 2:00pm.”
Maybe there just isn’t a good time to announce a raw milk demonstration, given that the product has caused more than 1400 illnesses in more than 80 outbreaks from 1998 to 2011. But now is a particularly bad time, since raw milk has recently sickened at least 8 people in separate outbreaks linked to raw milk from Organic Pastures (CA) (who has caused E. coli outbreaks before) and Cozy Valley Farm (WA). Five of the 8 people sickened have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome.
The remainder of the Freedom Riders’ press release:
Federal law 21 CFR § 1240.61 prohibits interstate movement and distribution of raw milk for human consumption. The FDA regulation applies to individuals, or “agents” acting on their behalf.
Over the past year, the FDA and state authorities have conducted undercover sting operations on, raided and prosecuted farmers, buying clubs, and individuals who help distribute raw milk and other farm fresh foods. Over a dozen people and businesses currently face charges, orders, and other enforcement actions; some are under “federal criminal investigation” and face possible indictment by a grand jury. Several small cheese producing dairies with no history of making anyone sick have been put out of business by the FDA’s actions.
“It is a God-given, inalienable right to engage in direct, private transactions with our food producers,” says Max Kane, director of a Chicago area local-food-buying club. “Americans deserve to know that the FDA is using their tax dollars to target and prosecute independent, peaceful, farmers and their customers.”
Mothers from around the country, determined to protect their families’ food supply, launched the Raw Milk Freedom Riders with an inaugural ride on November 1 when they transported raw milk from Pennsylvania to the FDA’s headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, and distributed the milk to crowds gathered for a protest. In response the FDA issued a statement saying it does not “intend” to take “enforcement action against an individual who purchased and transported raw milk across state lines solely for his or her own personal consumption.”
The Freedom Riders say that the FDA’s statement leaves the door open for FDA to pursue farmers, buying clubs and individuals acting as “distribution agents.” The Wisconsin to Chicago Raw Milk Freedom ride will challenge the FDA’s use of force against raw milk distribution.
Media are invited to ride along as embedded reporters to witness the FDA’s reaction to the Freedom Riders’ standing up for their rights.