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Injunction Against Raw Milk Dairy Imposes Many Conditions

The permanent injunction against a Pennsylvania farmer who was selling raw milk across state lines also imposes a number of conditions on him and his dairy that may have implications for other cases of interstate sales of unpasteurized milk, as well as for the legality of so-called “cow share” and “private buying club” schemes.

But the conditions set by the court may not affect the Lancaster-based farmer. His supporters claim he is shutting down his dairy.

Earlier this month, a federal court granted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration a permanent injunction preventing Daniel L. Allgyer and his Rainbow Acres Farm from distributing raw milk and raw milk products across state lines.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence F. Stengel, a 2004 appointee by President George W.  Bush to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, also ruled that Allgyer’s participation in a so-called “private buying club” did not shield him from federal oversight, and that Allgyer’s “cow share” agreements were a subterfuge for sales of raw milk.

Members of the private buying club had allegedly purchased “shares” of individual cows and then claimed that their reputed ownership entitled them to raw milk from those cows. 

Allgyer provided the association members who lived outside of Pennsylvania with containers of raw milk, even though federal law prohibits sales of raw milk for human consumption across state lines. Raw milk sales are legal within the state of Pennsylvania.

The court said Allgyer also violated federal law by not providing any labeling on the raw milk containers sold to consumers.

The permanent injunction would require Allgyer to place a statement on his products, invoices and website that he will no longer distribute unpasteurized milk or milk products in interstate commerce. He also would have to keep complete records of each sale, including the name and address of each buyer, the date of sale or distribution, and the amount and type of products sold, and provide a copy of the court’s order to all employees and persons who work with him to distribute unpasteurized milk and milk products.

Raw milk products for human consumption (with the exception of certain cheeses aged at least 60 days) have been prohibited in interstate commerce since 1987. Prior to that,

pasteurization was adopted as a common practice decades to prevent foodborne illness from bacteria such as E.coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Yersinia, Brucella and the causative organism of tuberculosis. 

A recent study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention covering a 13-year period determined that raw milk products are 150 times more likely to cause a foodborne illness outbreak than pasteurized milk products. While pasteurization effectively kills bacteria through heating, milk is occasionally contaminated after pasteurization.

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