A sixth dairy is now bottling raw milk for the retail market in California.

To such names as Organic Pastures Dairy Co. of Fresno County and Claravale Farm of San Benito County, add Duivenvoorden Farms of Shasta County. Duivenvoorden is the newest name on the list of California raw milk producers for the retail market. Located at 19490 Draper Road in Cottonwood, CA, Duivenvoorden Farms is approved to sell raw milk in retail stores from a new 760-square foot processing plant.

A decade ago, it was a traditional dairy farm selling milk to Land O’ Lakes for $1.10 per gallon. It was then that it made the transition to raw milk, building a herd-share membership beginning with just one customer and growing to 220 customers.

The family farm, owned by Marc and Lori Duivenvoorden, has a history that dates back 50 years. They are carrying on the business started by Marc’s parents. “We are retail now,” Lori Duivenvoorden told local media.

California and 10 other states permit the retail sale of raw milk. The other 39 states ban the sale of raw milk at retail outlets. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration prohibits taking raw milk across state lines for commercial sales.

According to an analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 1993 and 2006 more than 1,500 people in the United States became sick from drinking raw milk or eating cheese made from raw milk. Also, CDC reported that unpasteurized milk is 150 times more likely to cause foodborne illness and results in 13 times more hospitalizations than illnesses involving pasteurized dairy products.

Raw milk is milk from cows, sheep, or goats without the benefit of pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria, according to many state and federal definitions. FDA says: “this raw, unpasteurized milk can carry dangerous bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria, which are responsible for causing numerous foodborne illnesses.”

For more information about raw milk, please click on the image. Courtesy of CDC

Harmful bacteria can seriously affect the health of anyone who drinks raw milk or eats foods made from raw milk. However, the bacteria in raw milk can be especially dangerous to people with weakened immune systems, including older adults, pregnant women, children and people with compromised immune systems such as cancer patients. The CDC analysis found that foodborne illness from raw milk, in particular, affects children and teenagers.

The Duivenvoordens say they gained approval to sell raw milk at retail by building the new processing plant to the satisfaction of state inspectors. Every batch of raw milk it bottles “goes out and gets tested,” they say.

Duivenvoordens Farms is celebrating its business expansion with an open house from noon to 4 p.m. on Sept. 10, which they are calling Raw Milk and Cookies Day. It did not hold the open house last year because of construction, but in previous years hundreds have attended the event.

Retail outlets in Redding, Chico, and Willows, CA, are already selling raw milk from Duivenvoordens Farms.

The Milk and Dairy Food Safety Branch (MDFSSB), a unit of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, regulates raw milk from four regional offices — Oakland, Stockton, Fresno, and Ontario.

Among the standards and regulations required for retail sales in California are:

  • Only dairy farms with a market milk permit with a 90 percent or greater score on its sanitation scorecard may produce raw milk.
  • All dairy livestock producing raw milk must be tested and found negative for brucellosis and annually test nonreactive for tuberculosis.
  • Raw milk must not exceed permitted levels for bacteria, coliform bacteria and somatic cells.
  • The bottling and processing facility must meet sanitary requirements.
  • Raw milk and raw products must carry a warning label for being unpasteurized with language for those at-risk.

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