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Government crackdown on raw milk expands

By Paul J. Henderson | Chilliwack Times

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and the provincial Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport have joined the Fraser Health authority crackdown on a small Chilliwack raw milk operation. In a press release issue Tuesday, the BCCDC advised all "British Columbians to discard any unpasteurized dairy products from the Home on the Range raw dairy in Chilliwack."

The BCCDC report that five samples of products seized by Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health from Lower Mainland distribution outlets tested positive for fecal contamination. "These lab results mean these dairy products were contaminated with germs from the bowels of animals or humans," the release said. "The risk of disease from consuming these unpasteurized products is very high and can cause serious illness in people, especially young children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems."

Alice Jongerden and her husband run Home on the Range, a small dairy with 20 grass-fed cows that produce enough milk for more than 350 households. In the fall of 2008, Fraser Health issued a cease and desist order to Jongerden and then in December went into their distribution depots and issued a cease and desist order to stop distributing raw milk for human consumption. Vancouver Coastal Health also shut down a number of depots, but the cease and desist order there was for storing "unapproved food items."

The BCCDC says there have been cases of illness caused by the consumption of raw milk in B.C., including in children. "There is no credible or scientific evidence that raw milk produces any measurable health benefits over pasteurized dairy products," the press release said. But Jongerden and other raw milk advocates say the health benefits are great.

Wojtek Szuminski gets raw milk from Home on the Range and he told the Times that while he doesn't have asthma, he has trouble breathing when he consumes conventional milk but with raw milk he doesn't have this problem.

"It's completely ridiculous," he said of the Fraser Health crackdown in December. "Let me decide what is healthy for me." Locations where products were tested by the BCCDC included Ethical Kitchen (North Vancouver); Controversial Kitchen (Vancouver); and Ayurveda (Vancouver). Home on the Range raw dairy also distributes products to Anita's Pharmacy (Burnaby); Ladybug Organics (Surrey/Langley); and Rockwell Farms (Abbotsford). 

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