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Armed federal agents seize milk products from major cooperative

Gun-totpowderedmilk_406x250ing U.S. Marshals Wednesday seized more than 4 million pounds of milk products from a production  unit of a major dairy cooperative.

On orders of the U.S. District Court for Western Virginia, and at the request of the U.S. food and Drug Administration, the federal lawmen took custody of the milk products from Valley Milk Products LLC’s balancing plant located in Strasburg, VA.

The unit, which complements a manufacturing plant in Laurel, MD, is owned by the Reston, VA-based Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association Inc. The cooperative markets milk for more than 1,500 farmer owned dairies in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S.

The products seized at the behest of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are dry nonfat and buttermilk powders in 40 and 50 pound bags. The U.S. Department of Justice, acting on FDA’s behalf, requested the seizure order because inspectors last September found unsuitable sanitary conditions inside the Strasburg plant.

Neither Valley Milk Products nor the cooperative association has commented on the seizure, Such court action against a major milk cooperative is rare.

FDA examined Valley Milk’s records during last September’s inspection and found company salmonella testing had turned up positive results  in both internal environmental and finished product samples. Inspectors also found residues on processng equipment after cleaning and condensation from the ceiling falling on the food manufacturing equipment.

Salmonella meleagridis was found on food contact surfaces after pasteurization.

The facility is not currently producing dry milk.   It has a capacity for 200 million pounds per year.

 

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