bigstockphoto_Male_Police_Officer_2306773.jpgNo one can accuse the fine public servants of California’s Department of Food and Agriculture of sitting on their hands, and letting raw milk coliforms threaten the health and safety of California consumers.

No, we can all breathe a sigh of relief. The junior he-men, working on behalf of the senior he-man-terminator, are out there…fighting the common enemy, raw milk coliforms. Okay, they may not be putting their lives on the line, or even their lunch hours, for that matter, but damn it, they care about us and, well, that’s all that matters, right?

Pretty much in tandem with the withdrawal of AB 1604 last week from consideration by the Calfironia Assembly, and its provision for a six-month repeal of AB 1735’s 10-coliform-per-milliliter standard, the CDFA swooped in and began testing the milk of the state’s two major raw-milk dairies–Organic Pastures Dairy Co. and Claravale Farm.

According to Mark McAfee, owner of Organic Pastures, the bottle of his dairy’s milk CDFA took for testing had 28 coliforms per milliliter—18 more than allowed under the new standard. (He claims that a private lab’s test of the same milk had a coliform count at 12.) He says that Claravale passed its first test.

The Organic Pastures failure isn’t a huge deal—for now. The CDFA can come back every 30 days to test. If Organic Pastures fails three of five tests, it must discontinue bottling milk for at least a couple days, while CDFA takes additional samples over a period of a day or two. If Organic Pastures passes two such tests, then it is back on the market for at least four months. But if it continues to fail, “It will take milk off the market,” says Mark.

“It’s a stupid game,” he adds. “It’s destabilizing, a game of harassment.”

In the meantime, he says that the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund will be seeking a temporary restraining order of AB 1735, probably next week. Plus, Aajonus Vonderplanitz, a long-time raw milk advocate, is hoping to file a separate suit shortly. In addition, Mark expects the commission investigating raw milk to begin being organized over the next few weeks.

For now, I must say how impressed I am with the speed of CDFA’s enforcement activities. They just won’t take any chances with the public’s safety at stake.

They’ve certainly got federal and state officials in New York over a barrel. Last week, The New York Times published a front page article about how tuna sushi from five of twenty restaurants and food stores “had mercury levels so high that the Food and Drug Administration could take legal action to remove the fish from the market.”

But there is no evidence the agency will take any action. In a followup article, The New York Times stated, “The federal Food and Drug Administration can move to have fish containing that much mercury taken off the market, though it rarely does so.” And no evidence since the report that the FDA has done anything to "protect" New Yorkers (or consumers anywhere, since it’s safe to assume tuna sushi around the country is similarly contaminated).

Interesting that the New York Times expressed no amazement, or concern, that the FDA was just hanging around as consumers go on poisoning themselves with mercury in tuna. Are coliforms more dangerous than mercury? Am I missing something here?