“Bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria have been found in raw and unpasteurized milk. These bacteria can cause food poisoning and lead to very serious conditions. “Children, pregnant women, older adults, and people with a weakened immune system should avoid drinking raw or unpasteurized milk because they are more likely to get food poisoning.”(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)
Today, Ottawa area farmer Michael IIgert is scheduled to ask for removal of a cease and desist order that prevents him from selling or distributing milk that has not been pasteurized. A hearing is set for this morning in Ontario before the Health Services Appeal and Review Board. The cease and desist order, issued in December 2016, came from the Renfrew County and District Health Unit. With support from Our Farms, Our Foods Coop, a 200-member cooperative formed to change Canadian policy on unpasteurized raw milk, IIgert is asking supporters of raw milk and food choice to show up at the hearing to “defend consumer choice and access to farm fresh milk.” Coop President Elisa Vander Hout, whose farm has also experienced several years of legal challenges, says food sources in Canada are threatened and farms are challenged. “With consumers looking for fresh, local farm foods, it is up to all of us to come out and speak up on behalf of farmers,” she says. Our Farms, Our Foods Coop is known for its past support of Ontario farmer Michael Schmidt, the well-known raw milk rebel. Schmidt is known for encounters with authorities during the past 20 years that have involved raids, seizure, and multiple court trials and hearings. IIgert says his appeal is “the first step in what could be a long struggle for the survival of my farm. He says “many families depend on the food we produce.” “People need access to the foods of their choice from the producer of their choice,” he added. “Even if those foods include farm fresh milk. I won’t back down. My job is to nourish people.” The appeal hearing gets underway at 10 a.m. local time in the Indigo Room at the Metcalfe Hotel at 123 Metcalf St. in Ottawa. As with public health agencies in the U.S., Canadian public health officials have standing warnings in place against drinking raw milk. “Drinking raw or unpasteurized milk comes with an increased risk of serious illness because it has not been pasteurized to eliminate harmful bacteria,” according to information on the Canada Health website.