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Ontario Court Rules Against Raw Milk Farmer

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So much for "cow shares."

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/n...

  1. The Dairy Cartel in action... this man should be supported not penalized.

    6 Replies
    1. re: TexSquared

      The courts decided, and it was a local action, by Grey county. Would you really want to drink milk from cows with dirty rear ends? Schmidt offers no protection, but pasteurization prevents at least four major diseases.

      1. re: jayt90

        uh oh, I saw the milk came from the udder instead.
        Schmidt looks after our cows well, healthy & clean. The milk tastes like the real milk, rich and not watery.

      2. re: TexSquared

        Give it up Tex. "Heirloom" foodborne diseases aren't my idea of freedom--or fun.

        1. re: Kagemusha

          OK, many of you here (well, Toronto board, but I'm sure it's prevalant all over CH) love to buy local and fresh, right? Let's list the examples: I can go to Whittamore's Farm and pick my own fruits and vegetables. I can go to Sweet Ridge Farm or Stroud's Farm and get ears of corn or bushels of apples that were picked that same day. There are many cattle farms that will sell me a side of beef that they raised organically. I can go to one of many farmers' markets or roadside stands and buy fresh produce directly from the farmers. Hell, I can even drive to Niagara on the Lake and buy wine direct from the wineries and avoid the LCBO if I wanted, don't even have to cross the border!

          But as this case has shown, I can't go directly to a dairy farmer and buy a gallon of milk from him that came out of his cows that day. Pasteurized or not.

          If you think the milk cartel system we have is so great, you should not be shopping at any of the above, since you're just contradicting yourself. There's no wine cartel, corn cartel, strawberry cartel, bell pepper cartel, apple cartel, or beef cartel (I yield to whoever corrected me on that!). So why should there be a dairy cartel and poultry cartel? Cartels are WRONG, plain and simple. It's wrong for oil and it's even more wrong for food.

          1. I think it’s clear that the law was broken.
            But isn’t the real issue whether the law as currently written is a ‘good one’.
            ‘Should’ there be a place for unpasteurized milk (and milk products) in a ‘free’ society. For example we still allow cigarettes, despite their health risks, to be sold and ‘enjoyed’.
            Should we allow ‘raw milk’ cheeses – which are mostly prohibited (with a few exceptions; please don’t miss the point of the argument by citing the rare exception, which is typically arbitrary like ‘aged 60 days’) in Ontario – whereas they are perfectly legal in many jurisdictions? A slight clarification here – it is ONLY cow raw milk cheeses that can’t be made – legally – in Ontario – it’s perfectly legal to use unpasteurized goat milk and sheep milk cheeses – which is why you find so many Ontario made cheeses come from these alternative animals.
            Nobody can deny the benefits of pasteurization, but I’m not sure I’d prefer a pasteurized milk containing levels of antibiotics and hormones (used to increase production, as well as ‘protect’ the animals) to an unpasteurized product from a ‘naturally’ raised animal. At least give me the choice.

            Personally I avoid almost all liquid milk (regardless of pasteurization) – don’t see the logic in drinking it after weaning, so I have no vested interest – other than I have had both cheeses and butter confiscated at the border when returning to Canada with products more tasty than those I find here, but are perfectly legal in Europe (and U.S.).
            Plus, I am fed-up with ‘chemical’ ice-cream which is made from imported dried milk products rather than REAL cream (which it is also illegal to import for ice-cream making purposes).

            My conclusion is that this is indeed more ‘protect the industry’ legislation that health-based considerations.

            As is the decision not to label genetically modified plant materials as such – it’s more political than health-based.

            3 Replies
            1. re: estufarian

              Nice post, interesting read.

              1. re: estufarian

                That said, how about non-treatment by OHIP when you contract one of the many milk-borne diseases? Not likely? Dunno but I'm not keen to find out. My take is that "freedom" also extends to footing the bill when you come down with something nasty from Farmer X's illegal products. That's "choice" I'm not sure you'd enjoy all that much.

                1. re: Kagemusha

                  Mind you, we already foot the bill for people who undercook their chicken and/or eat luncheon meat that's been in their fridge way past its best before date.

                  That being said, more people drinking more raw milk could make personal injury law in Ontario a little more interesting.

              2. Thanks mods. Earlier today when I was looking I couldn't find this thread anywhere. I guess it was maybe in the process of being moved. It is a very important item.

                I would like to see raw milk available in some capacity so try my hand at some hobby cheese making. I really see the main issue as being to protect the monopoly of the dairy council as mentioned about. I saw Mr. Schmidt talking at the Concious food festival and hearing him swayed me over to his side. Crazy how much dairy farmers need to pay for a license per cow.

                6 Replies
                1. re: ylsf

                  I'm surprised that so few Hounds appear to be concerned with listeria, salmonella and E coli.

                  Our food system is already dangerous enough, especially for those with weaked immune systems, without giving new opportunities to well-intentioned raw foodie business people to introduce more pathogens to our market.

                  http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/securit/...

                  http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/f...
                  http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/f...

                  1. re: prima

                    Wiith respect, this concern is a red herring. There hasn't been a raw milk/cheese based listeria outbreak in CANADA since the 1930's. The recent problems were from 'approved' factories producing processed meat. Of course, you could argue that we don't have listeria BECAUSE these were banned - except they weren't until legislation for Marketing Boards was introduced! And Quebec has always turned a blind eye to the importation of 'illegal' French cheeses - and no listeria there either.

                    Similarly salmonella is rife in virtually ALL commercial chicken - but chicken isn't banned - we have legislated procedures REQUIRING kitchens to use different cutting places for chicken.

                    E coli is similarly rife in many vegetables - but we don't ban those either. I beleve we are delinquent in NOT testing more widely for this - but in these political times of less taxes I don't expect much improvement there.

                    I have great sympathy for people with immune issues - but why is it OK for some foods and not others? Aren't chicken (and eggs) leading to more problems than raw milk (I'm happy if you choose to ban both - at least that would be consistent!).

                    And people with immune issues would still have the 'right' to not consume these foods.

                    1. re: estufarian

                      WIth respect, there have been food poisonings in Ontario due to raw milk.
                      http://publichealthgreybruce.on.ca/Co...

                      Most people cook their chicken and eggs, which would kill pathogens that might be present. Washing, peeling and cooking vegetables usually take care of the e coli that might be present. As far as I understand, most raw milk enthusiasts do not cook their milk.

                      People already have the "right" to consume raw milk and raw milk products, with or without a weakened immune system. No one has made the consumption of raw milk illegal. It's the business of selling raw milk that is illegal.

                      1. re: prima

                        I agree.
                        Except I SPECIFICALLY identified Listeria - not food poisoning in general. I fully support any moves to eradicate E coli (as I mentioned in my previous post). Unfortunately I can't find my reference on listeria - I 'think' it was all Canada - but can't confirm that - I had the article 2-3 years ago. Do you know if the Quebec cases were domestic or imported?

                        However, there is nothing to stop people using raw eggs (by coincidence I watched a bartender make two separate cocktails this week using raw eggs - actually only the albumin; the yolk was discarded). That's potentially double-jeopardy - salmonella from the egg and E coli from the shell!

                        But I'm really arguing for an 'intelligent' assesssment of the whole issue.
                        I'm all for safer food (not sure anybody could rationally argue against it) - but this raw milk issue is predominantly a political issue, not a health issue. There are far more dangerous foods out there not being controlled (and/or food handling procedures).

                        I've been poisoned by chicken (seriously - had to send samples to the Centre for Disease control for 2 weeks) and Mushrooms - was served one of the most dangerous varieties in Ontario (guesswork but informed guesswork as the evidence was not in a suitable form for examination - but the diagnoser (a farmer) was able to exactly describe my symptoms) - by a chef who gets a lot of love and respect on this Board.

                        1. re: estufarian

                          There is a case of an infant likely contracting Listeria in March 2007, which is mentioned in the Grey Bruce County's website's Raw Milk Outbreak- Canadian Experience article.
                          There is a Globe article on the Quebec raw cheese/listeria outbreak, but the link wasn't working when I tried to post it.

                          Sorry to hear you've experienced such nasty food poisoning.

                          On a complete tangent, last winter, I purchased some smoked whitefish at a foodie event hosted by a Chef who also gets a lot of love and respect on this Board. I wondered if it was smoked thoroughly, since it still looked shiny and somewhat translucent, like raw fish. I approached the Chef, showed him my serving, and asked him if it was smoked enough. The respected Chef assured me that his smokehouse reached XXX degrees F (don't remember the exact temperature), and told me it was fine. I took one bite, and it was certainly still raw, and not smoked nearly enough. That was a lesson to me to trust my instincts, and not bother asking for a second opinion, even if the Chef gets respect on this Board. Luckily, the bite of raw lakefish I did ingest didn't give me a tapeworm.

                          1. re: prima

                            Thanks - I trust your research - guess I shouldn't believe everything I read on the internet!

                            I still feel chicken and eggs are more dangerous - but everyone should also be aware of the potential risks of 'raw' milk too.

                2. Considering that most of us do not live in environments that are conducive to raising a cow for the private consumption of raw milk, this ban severely diminishes our right to consume it. Consume it how? Where?

                  No one is forcing anyone to eat or drink any unpasteurized product. It is a choice, and it should remain a choice.

                  If there is demand for the product, why ban the supply? Wouldn't it actually help the economy?

                  Oh, and to say that someone who contracts a food-borne disease from ingesting a raw dairy product does not deserve public health insurance coverage is asinine.

                  We all pay into the public fund, and we are all entitled to tap into it when our health is in jeopardy. I wouldn't begrudge a smoker medical treatment simply because their lifestyle is different from mine. The same applies to the obese and drug addicts, bikers who crash their motorcycles and youths who dive into shallow pools and break their backs. I mean, really, where do you draw the line?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Grapefloat

                    Point is, it's a public health issue. Period. Don't like the law, then elect officials interested in changing them. Simple. I do suspect, though, you'd be keen on pursuing a product liability suit if Michael Schmidt's milk irrevocably damaged your health. How do you think that would go? Just your tough luck, right?

                    1. re: Kagemusha

                      Oh, if it really were that simple!

                      If my vote changed everything the way I wanted it, wouldn't I be the lucky one?

                      As a child, I drank raw milk growing up in Europe. I have family that still drinks it warm, straight out of the cow. For years, I ate raw milk cheese in Quebec when I lived there.

                      However, I haven't touched dairy products in well over 5 years.

                      Not too long ago, innocent people in Walkerton died from drinking tap water that everyone believed was potable. Should drinking tap water be banned just in case it happens again?

                      My point is, there is risk inherent in everything.

                      By the way, let's just say that down the road a year or two, or more, the current elected officials do change the law and the sale of raw milk does become legal. Ask yourself how that would change your stance on the issue. Would a change in legislation shift your opinion? If not, why not?

                      Somehow, I get a sense that there is much hysteria lurking beneath this debate, and it reminds me of the rift between those who advocate for flu shots and those strongly opposed to vaccinations. In the end, all I have said is that it should come down to personal choice.

                      1. re: Grapefloat

                        You might research where and how Walkerton's E. Coli originated.

                        It's scientific consensus that food-borne disease is preventable. It's also widely known how to prevent it. In light of that, I doubt laws will be changed to satisfy anyone's self-indulgence.

                        I see no hysteria apart from the usual arguments about food safety and public health regulations somehow representing affronts to individual liberty.

                        There's no debate generally about vaccination: they work when you get them--if you get them. No obvious analogy with doubts concerning food safety regulations.

                        Overall, there are private opinions but really no such thing as private facts.

                  2. Theoretically, if the people who bought cow shares decided they wanted to buy a cow instead and pay for the feeding, boarding and milking services, that would be a legal avenue to obtaining raw milk, right? The excess milk could then be sold to a cheese maker, or go to a communal cheese maker and the owners could take their shares of cheese or sell it to help defray the costs of keeping a cow. Maybe Michael Schmidt just needs to rethink the model so the consumers are the owners of the cow. Make it a cowndo instead of cow-op.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: GoodGravy

                      "...or sell it to help defray the costs of keeping a cow."

                      That's where the problems start.

                      "Make it a cowndo instead of cow-op."

                      You get to muck out the barn for a month for that groaner!

                    2. The law was applied correctly but the question is should the law be changed. It could be "consume at own risk" for adults.....this particular farmer may be running a clean op, but if there was no law what of the farmer who wasn't/isn't?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: kbdid

                        I buy pasteurized milk at any store - grocery, Shopper's, convenience - because I'm fairly certain I won't get sick from drinking it.

                        But if I were to buy raw milk, I'd sure as heck take the time to visit the farm and/or do some research with people who have seen the place. It there was even a hint that something was off, they wouldn't get my business.

                        I used to do scuba. When I traveled, I often rented tanks and other gear. I didn't just strap it on and jump over the side - I always inspected and tested the regulator, checked out the tank pressure, etc. When you're 60 ft down, surfacing in 30 seconds isn't an option, so you'd better believe I made sure things worked. If you want to engage in risky behaviour (bungee or parachute jumping, anyone?), I think it behooves you to invest a little time in investigation first. But even then, as the old saying goes, "feces occur". Then the question becomes who's at fault - the beginner skier who tried out the double black diamond run, or the ski resort for not closing a trail that lacked sufficient snow to be skied safely? I think there's a responsibility issue for both raw milk sellers, and raw milk consumers, but I don't see why I have the right to restrict their choices.

                        1. re: kbdid

                          Really interesting - need to know more about Adelaide - she was advocating heat-treating milk in 1889, only 3 years after it was first proposed in Germany. I doubt whether she regularly read German journals so it seems she might have developed this separately.

                          Franz Soxhlet (1886) "Über Kindermilch und Säuglings-Ernährung" (On milk for babies and infant nutrition), Münchener medizinische Wochenschrift (Munich Medical Weekly), vol. 33, pages 253, 276.

                        2. Michael ended his hunger strike on Friday after meeting with Dalton McGuinty:

                          http://www.torontosun.com/2011/11/04/...

                          1. This is a tricky one I think. I know that I've eaten raw cheeses in Europe and there rarely is a problem there. However, they are really, really experienced with respect to the management and handling and production of raw cheeses. Its a serious business there, not a hobby farm business.
                            Given that, over here, it really is a hobby farm enterprise without alot of corporate knowledge with respect to raw milk handling, a person is really putting themselves as risk by consuming these sorts of products that are produced in this manner. You really better be certain that the guy in charge is absolutely 100 percent "on his game" all the time if you want to be safe.
                            Given that, I see this government policy less of a "milk cartel" issue and more of a public health issue and a legal issue. By not regulating something that can have dire consequences if mismanaged, it would be tacitly 'promoting' these products if you will. And I am absolutely certain that if there were to be a problem, you'd be darned sure that the farmer involved would be sued, as would the government for "allowing" him to continue what he is doing. All goes well until a child or senior gets sick, then watch out! Here come the lawyers and the inevitable cry of "I know I ate it, but the government should have done something to protect me because the government KNOWS these products can be dangerous". These lawsuits happen all the time, so I fully understand the government's position.
                            It makes sense to me to regulate this issue for the overall general good. I know some will think that "I have the right to choose", but it isn't just about you. Its about your child who may go to school with a raw cheese product sandwich and trade half of it with another child for an orange juice or something. Its the party plate of raw cheese that someone may bring to the Seniors' Centre for an anniversary party without thinking -- after all, if you are using these products regularly you might not be as vigilant nor think about them in the same way over time as you are so familiar with them. One may start with good intentions about only consuming raw milk products themselves, but at the end of the day, the regulation is to protect those of us who might not knowingly be put at risk. JMHO... :)

                            10 Replies
                            1. re: freia

                              I disagree.

                              Those same cheeses you had in Europe are ILLEGAL to import into Ontario (OK some may qualify but most won't). So how is this a 'public' health issue?

                              I have many more arguments - but IMO the reality is that the Government is protecting an industry by 'supply management' and using health issues to disguise this.

                              By all means regulate the standards - I too support that - but this is not regulation, it's prohibition!

                              1. re: estufarian

                                Well, its a public health issue if there is no regulation or vigilance to make sure that raw milk producers IN CANADA a) know what they are doing, and b) are not putting others at risk if they inadvertently consume these products. My point wasnt' about importing cheeses: it was about trying to ensure that the Canadian raw cheese/milk producer has the knowledge and skill set and corporate memory to safely make these products. And since there is no corporate memory nor inspection nor regulation, you're really relying on Farmer Brown down the road from you to make sure your cow hasn't pooped too closely to the bucket in which your raw milk is collected and that the bucket of raw milk wasn't forgotten in the tractor shed overnight before it was decanted and delivered to your home. This is what makes it a public health issue IMHO. You may be perfectly comfortable taking a risk in consuming a product that is known to have serious potential consequences, however, your child and/or medically compromised senior in your care may not be able to make that decision for themselves when/if you serve them a raw milk cheese sandwich for lunch. And promising to not let minors or health compromised people or seniors have these products in your house is really not enforceable. With respect to public safety, the protection of the many outweighs the wants of the few.
                                I see it like riding without a helmet. You may choose to do so, you may want to assume the risk. You may feel you are a great rider and ride with people who know how to ride. You may feel that the risk is very very low. But it is still against the law because the potential harm outweighs your personal desires especially if there are minors or people who are unable to follow through with the decision making process. You decide to go for a ride with Junior and you make the decision for both of you that helmets aren't required. Junior is assuming a risk at your behest. Public health and safety laws are there primarily to protect those people and by extension, everyone. JMHO, and I know others won't see things this way, especially if you are a proponent of raw milk and/or a believer in less government regulation overall. And I can certainly appreciate this other point of view, because at the end of the day, if it was to be regulated it could be done so safely by the Government. It would just take time, money and effort. And that actually might be the crux of the matter. I personally know that there isn't much out there that can beat a raw cheese Brie in terms of flavor and enjoyment, and I miss not having that option here in Ontario.
                                Unfortunately, at this stage of the issue, it is less a question of "how can we ensure that Farmer Brown can safely make and sell raw milk products" but more of a case of "given that we have no regulatory or testing methods in place, should Farmer Brown be allowed to distribute/sell a product that without some assurance of proper handling/production techniques could easily pose a serious health risk to the general public".
                                :)

                                1. re: freia

                                  As I said - I'm totally in favour of regulation (as are you). But not prohibition.

                                  From your prior post
                                  "I see this government policy less of a "milk cartel" issue and more of a public health issue"

                                  I STILL maintain it's a 'cartel' issue (using your term). The lack of regulation (as opposed to prohibition) implies (to me) that 'regulation' is NOT the issue. As I said further up the thread, I know a farmer who was unable to get permission to separately process the 'higher quality' milk from Guernsey cows - only the 'standard pricing'.

                                  Still smacks to me of 'Never mind the quality, just give me a quota'.

                                  1. re: estufarian

                                    The cartel issue has come up in the news in recent days. Maybe this is the beginning of the end of it, but I suspect hell freezes over first...

                                    http://www.montrealgazette.com/busine...
                                    http://www.thestar.com/news/insight/a...
                                    http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/Canada/2011...

                                    1. re: TexSquared

                                      Have you twigged yet that you get what you pay for? Two of these stories are basically the same tiresome crank/cheapskate/neo-con screed that any form of government intervention/oversight/management is evil. Do away with the current system and you'll revise your take on the term "cartel."

                                      1. re: Kagemusha

                                        Are you suggesting that all agricultural products, or even, all consumer goods in general, should be supply-managed in the same way? If you're going to defend the system for dairy and poultry then shouldn't you also be calling for its implementation for pork, beef, salmon, apples, strawberries, wine, sugar, cars, computers, TV's, Blu-Ray disc players, tires.... What makes dairy farming so special compared to other products that it should be controlled in this way? Let's hear a straight, honest, logical answer as to why.

                                        1. re: Kagemusha

                                          Hmm – we seem to have strayed a long way from ‘Public Health Issue’.

                                          I’ll add that I watched a program (West Block) on Global TV, on Sunday, that also addressed this issue and stated (some supporting facts) that Canada has the highest milk prices in the world.

                                          BUT I also find it interesting that all these media seem to have picked up on this issue at the same time. THAT is what makes me curious. Despite my (numerous) contentions that this is a political issue, it stretches even my credulity that there’s a sudden awareness of the impact of a 40-year-old system of supply management. Yet there’s no election in sight (hopefully!).

                                          I speculate that we may well see the end of the supply-management set-up in less time than I (certainly) expected. And it may well be tied to some International trade agreement, yet to be signed, where this anomaly (OK someone, tell me where else this peculiar system is still practiced) will have to be abandoned in order to bring Canada in line with most International agreements.

                                          And that makes the development of ‘proper’ health/safety requirements even more important. Hence (self-interest) let me get my high butter-fat products NOW!

                                          And, horrors! maybe I'll be able to get Canadian cow milk cheeses in addition to the sheeps milk and goat milk cheeses that currently swamp the local market, DIRECTLY attributable to this same regulation.

                                          1. re: estufarian

                                            The various media outlets all picked it up because of PM Harper's clear "flip-flop" on this issue. He told farmers that he would defend the system, but when push comes to shove, as Canada wants in on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, now he's saying it's up for discussion. The U.S., New Zealand, and Australia will block our entry into the free trade zone if the system doesn't go. All I say is, thank you Americans, New Zealanders, and Australians for telling it like it is. That and the CRFA jumped on the bandwagon in short order with this campaign: http://freeyourmilk.ca/

                                            The needs of 30 million Canadians should take precedence over the unreasonable demands of 20,000 dairy farmers. Time to join the rest of the world... or be isolated like Burma.

                                            Another good article on it:
                                            http://www.nationalpost.com/news/Milk...
                                            Where's that troll who insisted milk was cheaper in Montreal than in Buffalo? This article blows that statement out of the water!

                                            1. re: estufarian

                                              Maybe a workable solution is, the farmers can keep their little racket going, but the government blind-sides them by lifting the tariffs on imports (almost 300% on butter according to one article I read today! That's higher than the import duties on alcohol!). Then watch how fast their system crashes. If they won't go willingly, send in the wrecking ball....

                                              1. re: estufarian

                                                So much for safe Canadian product and unsafe imports, as suggested by certain people here.... supply management didn't work this time either:

                                                http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/ar...

                                                and as I said before, if it's so right for the dairy and poultry farmers, why not impose it on EVERYTHING, including cars?

                                                http://www.ottawacitizen.com/opinion/...

                                  2. Folks, we're finding this conversation is going in circles amongst the same few participants and getting pretty testy, so we're going to lock it now.