Organic Patures and Claravale Farm, two raw milk producers in California, have filed a lawsuit against a new law, AB1735, which they say would essentially ban raw milk and put them out of business.
For the first time, AB1735 limits levels of coliform bacteria in bottled raw milk to just 10 per milliliter, which is the same level required of pasteurized milk.
The California state Department of Food and Agriculture, against which the lawsuit was filed, claims the law will enhance food safety. Raw milk proponents, however, say the limit is “not technically possible nor economically feasible” for raw milk.
Coliform bacteria exist in the environment and typically do not cause illness, according to food safety authorities. The lawsuit maintains that raw milk producers are being unfairly singled out since other food providers do not have to comply with a coliform limit in their products.
Further, raw milk is already tested for pathogens that could cause illness, such as E. coli, salmonella and campylobacter.
California is home to the biggest raw milk industry in the United States, and raw milk sales are permitted in stores in the state.
The lawsuit asks that AB1735 be declared unconstitutional and says that it should be kept from taking effect.