San Francisco Chronicle reporter (and Reason contributing editor) Carolyn Lochhead reports on a disturbing press conference with Michael R. Taylor, the Food and Drug Administration's guy in charge of food safety. That the conference was held at "the Ogilvy Washington public affairs group" doesn't help. What, the FDA's cafeteria wasn't available?
"We believe we're doing our job," Taylor said at a presentation at the Ogilvy Washington public affairs group. He promised to "keep doing our public health job," and described his agency's campaign against raw milk producers as based on a "public health duty" and "statutory directive."
Our story thus far: In April, Amish farmer Dan Allgyer's Rainbow Acres farm in Pennsylvania was the object of an armed raid by FDA agents and other law enforcement people in search of raw milk products. Allgyer's operation, which sold raw milk products to ultra-willing and ultra-informed customers in the Washington, D.C. area, broke a "technical violation" against selling unpasteurized dairy products. As Lochhead notes, "The agency's actions are likely to put him out of business."
Good job! Lochhead explains how a law change last year makes all the difference - and how the FDA's Taylor is planning to get tough on raw milk sellers without the need for pesky court orders:
Before the new law, the FDA could only impound food when it had credible evidence the food was contaminated or posed a public health hazard. The detention powers are part of what Taylor described as a new agency focus on preventing food poisoning outbreaks rather than responding to them after the fact. Taylor described the new law as giving the agency "farm to table" control over food safety.
Taylor outlined an aggressive approach, saying he would seek a "high rate of compliance" with new food safety rules, touted the agency's "whole new inspection and compliance tool kit," including access to farm records, mandatory recall authority, and enforcement actions that can be accomplished administratively, "without having to go to court."
Lochhead notes that the FDA's Ahab-like obsession with controlling the food supply ("big new regulations are coming down the pike on produce") are running headling into the rise of small farm operations that focus on more expensive methods of production and conservation efforts at legacy farms. So when the organic arugula farmers march on the White House, don't say we didn't see it coming.
Submitted for your approval: The FDA's focus on raw milk and related issues is a massive waste of time and resources. And it exemplifies one of the reasons why people are sick of government.
Reason on raw milk here.
And watch Keep Food Legal founder (and Reason contributor) Baylen Linnekin talk about raw milk and the outrageous Allgyer raid with Judge Napolitano on Freedom Watch.