As reported here (below) Saturday, FDA busted another artisan-cheese family food ministry in Washington state. The children have calmed down now four days after their direct dealings with the FDA agents when they locked up all the award-winning cheese at Estrella Family Creamery–while Anthony and Kelly Estrella, the parents, were known by the intruders to be away at the farmers market. All because a few isolated samples of cheese never offered to the public did not pass non-detect (zero) of a microorganism that is found all over your skin: a “standard” that will shut down any cheese maker nationwide.
According to the Estrella’s, there had been a pathogen detected last Spring and rectified as is industry-standard worldwide. But this time FDA just suspects “all of the batches cheese” might contain a sub-type of Listeria, something allowed in European cheeses. (Low levels of Listeria may be found any cheese, according to this report. So the crux of the whole deal in Washington and some other states is a zero-dectection limit with a zero-tolerance which is an impossibility to achieve—even in the cleanest of cheese operations, not whether it is detected.)
In my telephone conversation with them tonight, they said they expect the state Department of Agriculture and the Health Department to inspect and get involved. A lawsuit against FDA is pending and a fundraiser is in the making to help them make it through this escalating ordeal, Anthony explained. They said there has been an outpouring from everywhere on how people can help. The cows need to be kept fed, but the cheese is locked up—they have not produced cheese for 8 weeks–their marginal source of income to support their home-schooled children and the 80-head cowherd. They are most frugal: their newest vehicle they drive to their home-church fellowship is 10 years old—besides maintaining their older farm equipment. Yet the Estrallas were able to adopt a number of African (Liberian) children. There are no employees, only family members run the operation–which included a recent voluntary upgrade of the cheese house exceeding standards anywhere. The farm may not survive—their customers are livid- denying them food needed for their health—for such a ridiculous action.
I know FDAs rationale for these actions are to test out the new federal food safety and health agenda. They are not only causing the Italian Gold Medal and other award-winning cheese to be stopped, but affecting the health of their neighbors, family and friends who depend on it– as hundreds have testified in this and other cases– and squashing their ministry to which the Estrallas believe is their calling from the Creator of the natural milk and cheese they produce.
Should the Estralla’s, or other real farm food producers offering the goods at a farmers market or farm store, with a stack of permits already, meet every requirement– it would not be good enough. The cheese (or eggs or meat or custard pie) must be in a commercial refrigerator– dry ice is not good enough, or the labeling is not correct. But if they get it just right–then agents from another enforcing agency will say the product is not on the “approved source list”. But the folks selling the contaminated Supermarket milk and dairy that makes 20% of people sick, offer it at a much cheaper price with the mass-scale economics and government subsidies. This is why Estrella cheese is $15-20 a pound and milk is $10 a gallon– to make a modest income.
This is not the only food ministry raided in the past two years. There are 50 some other articles in our arsenal at our Family Farm Enforcement and Regulatory Actions portfolio.
More details on the fundraiser will be posted here this week, so be sure to subscribe to get it, complete the short survey and get the surprise gift of Living Food when you do! (Our story was in the Top 100 internationally in the world-class and largest WordPress.com platform).
Visit our new iShop and pick out an eBook on Health and Nutrition to help support the Journal and the authors. If you like the content and has benefited you, it is your chance to give something back.
PLEASE TAKE OUR ONE-MINUTE SURVEY and get a free subscription to our Journal and a sample of Living Food.–Augie
The Estrella kids from the Estrella Family Creamery in Washington state got a shock the morning of October 22 when the FDA showed up to shut the creamery and cheese production down and embargo all the cheese–while the parents, Anthony and Kelli, were away at the farmers market.
This was posted at their fabulous website Estrella Family Creamery:
Last night at about 5:30 three cars pulled into the yard with FDA and Federal Marshals, alarming our kids. They posted a seizure order that named all cheeses on the property. This is serious, it could put us out of business.
I need to write something more lengthy than I have time for right now. But tomorrow we will be at the University District farmer’s market, sadly without cheese. But we’ve invited the media and would love to have our customer’s voices heard. Because we’ve been hearing you voice very strong opinions about wanting the right to choose your food. Please feel free to come and ask questions.
As in the Morningland case in Missouri , the FDA claims there is a potential of contamination with listeria. But, where is the data?
The report came my way first thing this morning while at the Raw Milk ARMi Boards, specifically the Washington Alliance for Raw Milk Facebook site, as I was finishing my raw yogurt with roasted pecans and coconut flakes. I thought maybe I could lay off the milk raid stories for at least a day. But no, I had to click just once and then twice.
Oh, by the way, my Guide to How To Find Raw Milk and Cheese and All Your Real Food white paper is not ready to offer yet, but I want to remind my readers of the opening of the Journal’s iShop where we have eBooks for nutrition and health . . . with many more coming. Take a peek and come back to peruse. Rather than accepting donations, I wanted to give you something back in value, to keep our projects going.– Augie
In the Saturday edition of Seattle Local Food, a plea went out to help the Estrella family. It explains why the FDA agents have a bee in their bonnet over the possibility of someone getting sick from nibbling on national award-winning artisan raw cheese from pastured cows grazing on organic grasses.
The claim: Risk of exposure to Listeria. However, Estrella’s current inspection records (available today at the market) show that all cheeses have tested negative. There was apparently a positive test for Listeria at a point in the past, and so the FDA decided to shut down the dairy on the claim that the cheese might have Listeria, with no burden of proof to demonstrate they do, or to acknowledge records that show this is no longer a problem.
Anthony Estrella said this morning that even starting to fight this would cost $20,000-$30,000 or pro bono legal representation.
MY COMMENT: The legal and philosophical “precautionary principle” states that if an activity’s or product’s risk to human health and the environment is unknown, then it must be proven to have no risk before it may proceed– or until the activity is controlled by the state. This is known as zero-risk or zero-tolerance mentality. Risks may be acceptable, but only if allowed by the State through its regulatory apparatus as developed by the government/corporate/academia partnership. This is especially true when offering superior and healthy raw dairy products that encroach on the competition of the milk monopoly– or creme cartel. It also applies when government agencies are so large they must always prey on small folks to justify their existence.
If you want to get a feel of the Estrella family, you should want to read the featured article appearing in Culture Cheese Magazine. The family consists of a number of adopted Africans (Liberians) and they are obviously Bible believers who walk the talk. It is another heartwarming story of a family integrating faith into their food and farm freedom mission.
If you can help, please contact Anthony and Kelli. Legal/advocacy help, voicing your feelings as a customer on their behalf, wishes/prayers, or any other relevant resources sound welcome. COMMENTs from our readers are encouraged below.
Here is their contact info: