If you read my article on News With Views about the FDA and Missouri Milk Board shutting down Morningland Dairy, then you have a good background for a quick update….If not, I suggest you read the article and perhaps visit the Morningland blog to get a good idea of what is happening.
Yesterday, after Morningland published their “Objection to Order to Destroy” and sent out a press release about it, they were contacted by the Attorney General’s office and told to be in court TODAY for a hearing in Howell County Circuit Court asking for a restraining order against them to protect the public from the cheese, I guess, and also a preliminary injunction to (among other things) prevent them from “continuing and future violations of Missouri’s dairy law.”
If their actions alone don’t say it, that citation from the notice of service clearly indicates that the Missouri Milk Board is acting as the agent for the FDA and believes that raw dairy is inherently dangerous and -all- adulterated. That’s how I see it anyway. If others see it differently, I would like to know how.
Here is the Press Release and Objection to order to destroy copied and pasted below.You can find the documents from the state at NICFA’s website, and the court docs will be posted there soon…..BTW, the Attorney General’s office called at 4:50pm yesterday to tell them court was canceled because they couldn’t get 2 of their witnesses there. I think giving 24 hour notice of a court date over approximately $250,000 worth of product is less than honorable. One assertion in the court docs is that the product is that “immediate and irreparable injury, loss or damage will result if the condemned cheese products are not destroyed”. As if cheese sitting in a cooler can climb out and go kill somebody. Hyperbole, anyone?
Here are the Press Release and Objection to Order to Destroy:
=====================FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE===================
Date: October 6th 2010
Subject: Family Run Dairy Ordered to Destroy 50,000 Pounds of Cheese
Subheading: Battle Over Raw Dairy Products Has a New Epicenter
Morningland Dairy has issued an objection to the Missouri Milk Board’s “order to destroy” their inventory of raw aged cheese. The cheese is being held on their property under an embargo issued by the Missouri Milk Board on August 26th, 2010. The embargo on all Morningland’s product was issued in response to tests done by the California Department of Food and Agriculture on cheese seized in a raid on Rawesome Foods in Venice, Ca. on June 30th. The embargo halted all production and sales of Morningland cheese.
Missouri Milk Board gave Morningland a verbal order of destruction on September 24th. Joseph Dixon, owner and General Manager of Morningland, then requested that Gene Wiseman, Executive Secretary of the Missouri Milk Board, provide written notice of the order to destroy and the method of destruction. Wiseman wrote the order to destroy on October 1st and it was hand delivered by Don Falls of the Missouri Milk Board to Morningland Dairy on October 1st, but it did not include the destruction procedures.
Denise Dixon, owner and General Manager of Morningland Dairy says, “Morningland has been producing raw aged cheese for 30 years, and in that time, absolutely no reports of illness have been made by anyone who has consumed our product. We are, and remain, wholly committed to providing good, healthful food to our customers. The order to destroy nearly 50,000 or so pounds of our cheese is not associated with even one complaint of illness, and we believe it’s an over reaction at best.”
In their objection to the destruction order, Morningland offers a remedy based on sound and verifiable scientific testing. Denise Dixon says, “It is our hope that reason and common sense will prevail. Until that happens, it appears that the State of Missouri and the FDA are more interested in putting us out of business than allowing consumers to have a choice in their food.”
At this point there is no written assurance from the Missouri Milk Board indicating that Morningland will be allowed to resume production or distribution of their products.
Objection to Order to Destroy Dairy Product at Morningland Dairy
Morningland of the Ozarks, LLC, dba Morningland Dairy, is in receipt of recommendations by the Missouri Milk Board and representatives of the Missouri Department of Agriculture, ultimately ordering the destruction of ALL cheese produced by Morningland Dairy from January 1st, 2010, through August 26th, 2010. Morningland Dairy LLC hereby gives notice to the Missouri Milk Board and the Missouri Department of Agriculture and their agents, that we object to this order and request due process be followed before any further destruction of our property, wealth, and ability to provide ourselves and our customers, with a desired and healthful product is incurred.
Morningland Dairy is, and has been, committed to providing a growing clientele with raw milk cheeses for more than 30 years. In thirty years, there have been no reports of illness associated with consumption of our cheese.
Because of the untenable nature of the order of destruction, we cannot comply and we formally lodge our objection to this order and request that the order issued by Gene Wiseman, Executive Secretary of the Missouri Milk Board, be immediately rescinded. Instead, Morningland Dairy requests that all parties involved consider the scientifically sound and common sense remedy to the allegations of “contamination” of our product be applied. This remedy can be found at the end of this document.
Many of the “facts” as stated by the Missouri Milk Board et al in the order to destroy and the attachments thereto are both incorrect and unscientific. A brief rebuttal to the major inconsistencies and substantive errors follow:
1) To date, there has been no legitimate test performed on Morningland Dairy cheese, although Morningland Dairy owners have repeatedly requested that proper tests be done. California authorities did not sign the test they allegedly performed until 55 days after product was seized at gunpoint from Rawesome Foods. No sample of said product was shared with Morningland Dairy as is required by California and Missouri statutes; therefore, there is no confirmation of the findings reported by California Food and Department of Agriculture.
2) Morningland Dairy plant manager, Jedadiah York, and Plant Owner/Gen.Manager, Denise Dixon, apprised Don Falls of the Missouri State Milk Board that more than two samples of Morningland Dairy cheese had apparently been tested in California, and that those results should be considered in the situation of alleged contamination of Morningland Dairy cheese. Mr. Falls’ reply was that he was not told about it, and we repeatedly asked him to look into that situation. Mr. Falls later stated he could not get that information from California, and that it was up to Morningland Dairy to request it. Instead of getting the requested information, he repeatedly stated that we just needed to “concentrate on doing the recall”.
3) Despite being aware that several types of Morningland Dairy cheese had been tested and evidently tested clear by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, Mr. Falls insisted that all of our cheese must be recalled, not just the two batches that were identified from the alleged contamination found in the California test.
4) No Missouri State Milk Board representative obtained samples from Morningland Dairy. Instead, at the request of Morningland Dairy owners, samples were taken by a Morningland Dairy employee, and submitted to Microbe Inotech Laboratories, Inc., of St. Louis, MO, (this lab was suggested by Don Falls of the Missouri State Milk Board) on August 27, 2010 for testing.
5) The only witness to the sampling from Morningland Dairy was the employee who did the sampling. When Morningland Dairy owners, Joseph & Denise Dixon, learned how the samples were taken, they knew that the tests would be inaccurate and, consequently, erroneous. Despite repeatedly informing Don Falls and also Audra Ashemore, of the FDA, of the faulty sampling methods, both of these individuals used the results of this inept test in their reports.
6) Mr. Falls failed to see to it that samples bore the signature of the person taking the samples, which is required by section 196.565 of the Revised Missouri Statutes. Although Mr. Falls states that an employee of Morningland Dairy delivered said samples to Microbe Inotech Laboratories, Inc., the samples were in fact given to a family member of Joseph & Denise Dixon. She, in turn, met another family member in Edgar Springs, MO, who then took said samples to said lab. Neither of these family members is an employee of Morningland Dairy. These facts are reported to illustrate the falseness of Mr. Wiseman’s statement that “State Milk Board staff documented chain of custody and maintained the integrity of samples by ensuring the storage containers where the cheese products were kept were properly sealed, labeled and secured.”
7) Three FDA representatives took 100 swab/sponge tests of the cheese plant and the milk barn at Morningland Dairy during the first week of September. The following week, Audra Ashemore of the FDA, called Plant Manager York, to say that the swab test results were in, and that the tests came back clear. When Mrs. Dixon requested a copy of these test results, Ms. Ashemore stated that Morningland Dairy would receive a copy, and that the FDA did not have a copy. To date, Morningland Dairy has not received a copy of said results, and no mention has since been made of the fact that both the cheese plant and the milk barn tested clear.
In conclusion, due to the lack of scientific evidence, lack of transparent protocol and complete lack of any illness associated with our cheese, and the absurdity of the assertion that ALL, nearly all, or even some of Morningland Dairy cheese is actually below standard, we –again- offer to test each batch of cheese in our cooler prior to shipping the product to our customers.
Because of the fact that it is far from a light matter to put families out of work and out of business when no harm has occurred to anyone in a thirty-year history, we are more than reluctant to destroy nearly 50,000 pounds of food based on erroneous tests. We have always appreciated the input and advise of the Missouri Department of Agriculture and Milk Board and have no issues with following logical and scientifically accurate suggestions and recommendations. We do, however, have no desire to harm our customers or ourselves by following unjust, unscientific, faulty processes that destroy the health and livelihoods of those involved with our company.
At this point, October 6th, 2010, we have been required to recall 6 months of work, have been completely shut down and forced to dump milk for nearly 5 weeks, are being told we must destroy at least 8 months of work, and have no assurance that we will be allowed to continue to produce our product without further subjection to overzealous enforcement actions on the part of the FDA or the Missouri Milk Board.
We seek justice, reason, logic and decency, and we desire to live peaceably and to profit from our labor. Due process is inherent in our system, and we request that it be followed.
Proposed Remedy from Morningland of the Ozarks, LLC to the Missouri Milk Board and Representatives of the Missouri Department of Agriculture
1) Morningland Dairy will diligently strive to put into action those reasonable procedural recommendations rendered in the Memorandums from the MO State Milk Board and Dr. Harold Treese, as soon as finances and circumstances allow.
2) Morningland Dairy will diligently perform two microbial tests, using a state approved lab of our choice, on each batch of cheese in order to identify any contamination, and will offer for sale only cheese batches that are found to be free of contamination. Any cheese batch that tests positive for contamination will not be offered for sale.