FDA shuts down Estrella Family Creamery despite clean tests

By Seattle Local Food

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:

10/22/2010     

Dear Friends,

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.

Kelli

Here is their contact info:

Estrella Family Creamery
(360) 249-6541
659 Wynoochee Valley Road
Montesano,WA 98563

11 responses to “FDA shuts down Estrella Family Creamery despite clean tests

  1. It looks like the FDA is eager to bring this to a head as though they were pushing to get this subject into court.

  2. They are thugs in uniform who work for and represent corporate interests.

    A raw cheese maker in Pennsylvania I visited was only able to sell his cheeses if he wrote on his board on which he listed his cheeses:

    “Unfit for human consumption”.

    This kept him within the law, because it meant that customers were buying the cheese at their own risk.

    • wow… that is absurd! Is there any doubt that the federal government is an enemy of market competition?

    • Interesting, the GMO people got out of labeling (Contains GMO) because the FDA spin said there is no difference between GMO and Non-GMO foods (a scientific scam). They also say that there is no health difference between dairy products from raw or pasteurized milk and the safety has been proven from decades of safe use. Yet they spin a safety difference of their own design by creating a problem out of thin air (the phony positive test for Listeria), how low can they go. “Oh what a tangled web the FDA weaves, When first they practice to deceive! Excuse me Sir Walter Scott”

  3. The latest investigative report with interviews with the family is at my Journal http://wholefoodusa.wordpress.com/2010/10/24/fda-shutdown-award-winning-artisan-raw-cheese-producer/
    A fundraiser is pending.

    • thx, Augie – I linked to your piece in the article. Lemme know about the fundraiser when you have the details and we’ll post something here.

  4. This makes me so angry. So many small family dairies are being put out of business because, why? Big business dairy is afraid? This is such a violation of the rights of the farmers and their customers. I don’t understand why this is being allowed and why aren’t any law firms standing up and offering their services for such a worthy cause?
    I think if I owned such an operation I’d stand my ground with arms and the press to document the gross violation of my rights.
    I wish all the dairies much luck in this fight. Somethings got to give and soon.

  5. If they/’we can get the word out, perhaps we can generate some extra business their way (once they can produce cheese again, that is.)

  6. Pingback: Foodies and others mourn the Estrella Family Creamery shutdown « Liberation Wellness

  7. Pingback: Lies, damned lies, and “Food Safety” | The Bovine

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