Fans of the Estrella Family Creamery got a shock at the U-District farmers market this morning, but likely not as big a shock as the kids of this Montesano family got when the FDA showed up to shut the creamery down.
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.
We all know there are a lot of politics around raw milk and raw milk products, and this farm makes (aged) cheeses from raw milk, following Washington State regulations.
This is a wonderful farm. Anthony and Kelli have won numerous awards for their cheeses. They’re an incredibly hardworking family. I went out there to volunteer one weekend a few winters ago when their farm faced damage from the huge windstorm that wrecked that part of the state, and was impressed then and now by both their work and their products.
They and their kids are, as you can imagine, extremely upset. The FDA agents showed up when the parents were out, which added to the emotions of the raid.
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.
Also, contacting Rep. Norm Dicks, especially if you live in his legislative district (mostly Olympic and Kitsap peninsulas), would be helpful. 1-800-947-NORM (947-6676), or email via his contact form.
Kelli’s brief statement about the shut-down:
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.
Here is their contact info: