The judge’s full opinion in Commisioner of Minnesota Dept. of Ag v. Mike Hartmann et al. is the kind of read that makes you wish the feds and state governments took more seriously the notion of criminally prosecuting the worst offenders of food safety laws.
If this is a biased opinion, it’s only because of the sorry way that the Hartmann Dairy has handled itself since their current round of problems began last spring (their license to operate as a Grade A dairy was revoked in 2001 for insanitary conditions).
Remember the response to the announcement that Hartmann products had been implicated in an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that sickened 8, caused 4 hospitalizations, and one case of HUS last spring? Deny, Deny, Deny; God and Constitution both give me the right to produce a lethal product; and the State of Minnesota Departments of Agriculture and Health (which, unfortunately for Mr. Hartmann, happen to be among the best in the world at this stuff), got it all wrong. Actually, here is what Hartmann said back on June 8:
“As of today, there is no evidence of any harmful bacteria in any raw milk, cheese, meat or other product sampled from the Hartmann Farm. The State has engaged in a serious regulatory and potentially criminal action in a grossly negligent manner with total disregard for the defamatory content of their media campaign.”
See Hartmann Dairy’s typically raw-milkian PR blunder. They saved the Constitutional argument for the Court, which roundly rejected it.
Then comes the Hartmann trial, where he has his “day in court,” complete with the right to present his own evidence and to challenge the state’s. In reading the opinion, one will struggle to find one thing that the judge found remotely credible about Hartmann’s case.
Due process is important, but what a waste of time and energy, not to mention scarce resources, for the State of Minnesota to have to spend a year proving its case that Hartmann’s products shouldn’t be available for kids to consume.
Also good commentary on the constitutional arguments often so carelessly espoused by certain raw dairy proponents, who don’t understand the constituitonal authority that states have to act in defense of public safety, particularly where the asserted right being violated is not one historically accorded a whole lot of weight.