Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cheese and manure and regulation and choice

Sally Jackson Cheese is a small producer of "artisan" cheeses that recently announced that they were going out of business after 30 years of cheese production.   If you were to read the news stories, you'd find statements about unsanitary conditions and a recall, but if you read a bit more, you'll find that Sally Jackson had been ordered to replace her cheese making facility, and the double-blow of both a recall and the anticipated expense of rebuilding were too much of a hurdle to cross. 

In the news article, Sally cited her taxable income of $12,000 a year, which compares with an average wage in okanogan county of $34,000.   Her cheese was sold in whole foods and at a variety of high-end outlets, and by all accounts was appreciated by her customers at prices around $30/lb.

 Sally Jackson sold cheese in 17 states. , which would lead you to believe that she had a large company, but three cows, a herd of sheep and a herd of goats was her source for the dairy.  For the type of cheese she produced -- raw milk cheeses -- the market is fairly small.

"dw, december 18th, 2010 at 15:24:  Sally Jackson makes an exquisite, traditional style cheese with a flavor that is just outstanding. I suspect it will turn out that these fears about her cheese in particular are unfounded. Unfortunately her operation is small and I'm worried that this kind of PR could be very hard on her farm and on our neighbors who work with her."


A raw, artisan cheese.  Great flavor.  A producer that probably has a name for each of their animals.  8 people sick, some of which ate her product, some that can't remember.  And no more of this product. 

13 comments:

wobbly.com said...

Is this a regular response to a illness outbreak or are the FDA gunning for raw milk cheese? It seems like small fry.

Bruce King said...

I really can't say whether this is normal, but we really do regulate dairies and dairy products pretty heavily, at least in washington state. We appear to have made the decision that no amount of risk in food is acceptable, and our regulation has no provisions for gross sales or size -- a billion dollar company gets the same regulations as one that makes $12,000 a year. the billion dollar company can take this sort of hit and keep going.

Dean Smith said...

The small operators are just much easier targets for frustrated bureaucrats.

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

The FDA is gunning for raw milk producers. There have been many 'raids' in the past few months.

http://uncheeseparty.wordpress.com/

Kevin Kossowan said...

Sad.

dinkleberries said...

"In the U.S. food supply right now, you can find toxic mercury, BPA, acrylamides, petrochemicals, dangerous preservatives, synthetic chemicals like aspartame, pesticide residues and artificial colors that alter brain function. The FDA doesn't seem to care about any of this, of course: All these poisons in the food supply are legal!"

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/030811_terrorists_food_supply.html#ixzz18xOapuqL

Portland Charcuterie Project said...

Very sad. I never had her cheese, but she reminds me of my friend Meg from Black Sheep Farms.. she's a small producer of phenomenal cheeses in WA.

She was flooded out about 2 or 3 years ago, lost most of her herd and her facility was devestated. Lots of local customers ( myself included ) came together for several fund raisers and helped her get back on her feet. Every week in farmers market season, when my little girl runs up to "mags" for a piece of her "special cheese" (mopseys best.. named after one of her favorite goats ).. I'm reminded of how great it is to have a relationship with the person who makes my food.

Merry Christmas

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Here's another one...

http://www.kirotv.com/video/26179312/index.html

Funder said...

She was full-time selling cheese that retails for $30/lb and she could only make $12k a year? I really hope that's after some hefty deductions - but it's still tragic. :(

Dave said...

Sorry but I cannot feel sorry for this person. Ignoring basic health standards is just unacceptable. Being a small producer does not exempt you from running a clean safe operation. I only produce about 300 lbs of honey a year and when I extract and bottle I am paranoid about cleanliness.
1. Failure to use water which is of adequate sanitary quality in food and on food-contact surfaces. Specifically, the well water supply for the facility is not currently in microbiological compliance.
2.The floors also showed an accumulation of manure, mud. straw.
3. the owner wore manure-soiled outer clothing during the production of cheese; handling utensils and direct handling of finished product
4. Owner was observed kneeling in fresh cow manure, while milking a cow outside, then brushed pants with a bare hand and was later observed standing over a bucket of drained curd in the cheese room with the soiled pants coming in to contact with the edge of the bucket.
And this was after the authorities had been working with them for months to clean up the operation

Joanne Rigutto said...

FDA's stance on raw milk is the reason why all of the milk from my diary goats goes to bummer lambs that I raise, and a little bit to me for personal use.

Lamb sells for good money, and I don't have to worry about regulations and extra liability insurance.

Anonymous said...

Funder:
Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're a thousand miles from the cornfield. -Dwight D. Eisenhower

wobbly.com said...

[Returning to an old thread]

We're getting raw milk vending machines closer to our farm now: http://bit.ly/ehaQoV