Can Homestead Creamery Raw Milk Cheese Case Be Resolved Sensibly? Possibly, If Lawyers Move Away

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Lawyer Anthony Coveny reporting on possible illnesses from raw milk cheese in Missouri. It’s always dangerous from a journalistic perspective to write about a particular food safety situation in the midst of the regulatory process, especially when it involves raw milk. But in the case of the tiny Missouri raw milk cheese maker, Homestead Creamery, I’m going to give it a shot, because I started in on it in my previous post, and because the case illustrates a number of important issues in the regulatory process.  


First, an update: Homestead just received its production permit back late Thursday from the Missouri Milk Board. That allows it to resume production of raw milk cheese after a two-week shutdown. However, it hasn’t yet been cleared to resume sales–either of cheese in inventory or of newly produced cheese (all of which must be aged a minimum 60 days under U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations). Still, Tim Flory, the owner, sounded more upbeat today than he did when I last spoke with him Wednesday. 


FDA inspectors today concluded three days of testing of the farm’s cheese making facilities, which included taking dozens of swabs, searching for signs of pathogens. So those results, likely to take at least a few days to come through, will be important to determining when Homestead might re-open. 


In the meantime, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported that it has confirmed one illness from E.coli 103 that has been connected via DNA fingerprinting to cheese from Homestead Creamery. There are two other possible cases of “individuals (who) later reported having similar symptoms [to the confirmed case] after consuming cheese from the same producer,” an agency spokesperson told me. 


And this important proviso: “All of the individuals have recovered.” 


As for the contradictions and issues highlighted in the case, here a few: 


*Though this case has yet to play itself out completely, state regulators thus far appear to be treating Homestead Creamery more appropriately and fairly than they did Morningland Dairy. For example, they have only required Homestead to recall the one type of cheese implicated in the outbreak (of the dozen it produces), while Morningland was required to recall everything it had produced in the previous eight months, and to destroy everything it had in its inventory, rather than just the two cheeses originally implicated as contaminated. 


*State regulators in retrospect have been careful in their reporting on events. Regulators seemed initially to be unnecessarily hedging in their initial reports, but in retrospect, it appears they were walking a fine line between informing the public of a potential food danger, and accusing the producer before evidence was in. For example, in announcing last week that Homestead had recalled the questionable cheese, the Missouri Department of Agriculture stated, “Preliminary test results received from the Missouri State Health Laboratory indicate the cheese may be contaminated with Shiga-Toxin producing E.coli, which can lead to food borne illness. Confirmatory tests are ongoing.”


*While MIssouri regulators seem to be making an effort to be responsible, the same can’t be said of a couple of the product liability and personal injury lawyers who follow these situations like hawks, in hopes of snaring ill individuals as clients to sue food producers. In my previous post, I quoted personal injury lawyer Fred Pritzker as saying he was “investigating” the Homestead situation, and invited anyone affected by it to contact him. 


In the meantime, I’ve come across an even more sensationalist account from a lawyer tracking this case: Dr. Anthony Coveny, a “food poisoning attorney.” A news and entertainment site,, posted a video from Coveny in which he provided an “update” on the Missouri situation: “At least seven individuals have become sick, two are toddlers and one of which is still hospitalized, have come down with HUS, which is a serious disease” that can cause permanent kidney and throat damage, he stated. 


“At the same time, the Missouri Milk Board has announced there is a recall” of Homestead Creamery cheese. “We are uncertain if the two outbreaks are linked…We just want to issue a cautionary note to everyone to stay away from raw milk products…It is dangerous to consume any product that is dairy based that has not been pasteurized…”


Yes, Coveny was just doing a public service issuing his “cautionary note,” in a video with his firm’s phone number plastered along the screen. So, now that Missouri officials aren’t mentioning the toddlers Coveny was so worried about, do you think he’ll provide an update on the current situation, and perhaps clarify that the cheese producer seems not to have sickened little kids? My bet is he won’t. He and Pritzker will just move on to the next financial opportunity. 


But they don’t help in these situations to achieve the necessary delicate balance–of keeping the public accurately informed about what is happening while simultaneously protecting small producers who don’t have armies of lawyers protecting their interests. 

21 comments to Can Homestead Creamery Raw Milk Cheese Case Be Resolved Sensibly? Possibly, If Lawyers Move Away

  • D. Smith
    [quote from article]: “FDA inspectors today concluded three days of testing of the farm’s cheese making facilities, which included taking dozens of swabs, searching for signs of pathogens. So those results, likely to take at least a few days to come through, will be important to determining when Homestead might re-open.” [end quote]

    Isn’t this almost the exact thing they told Morningland? Then, when the fdUH found very little of what they claimed they were looking for – no one became ill, no one from the citizenry pressed any sort of charges (so why were they even looking for anything? What prompted the *look-see*?) – the fdUH asserted charges still weren’t reduced or dropped. Now they’re putting Morningland’s inventory to rest today.

  • null.set
    the classic canard = “ … two are toddlers and one of which is still hospitalized, have come down with HUS, which is a serious disease” that can cause permanent kidney and throat damage … ” the fable blazed-to the skies, but for which the dairy cartellists never seem to be able to produce evidence. Works every time = to tug at the heartstrings. The truth goes on forever, but a lie comes to an end. This may be the case in which that particular lie gets put to rest
  • Ken Conrad
    “Big Ag group trying to ban raw milk sales in South Carolina – your help needed to stop this tyranny.”


  • ingvar
    Faux laws- nothing more than political horse manure to avoid commercial risk are not going to protect those so “shielded” from the brewing storms and rising winds of responsibility.

    Are you ready for this?

    Another reason to steer clear of GMO products; high concentration of formaldehyde found by German researcher in GMO corn.

    At the family dinner table: “Finish your corn dear, you need that formaldehyde.”
    In the restaurant advertisements: “We have only the best corn-fed beef! Yum!”

    Maybe caskets could be made from it. After it puts you in an early one.

    Mr. J. Ingvar Odegaard

  • D. Smith
    @ Ingvar: Do you suppose we’ll soon see ethanol made from this same corn?

    Has this GMO/formaldehyde laced corn been the stuff we’ve actually been using (unknowingly) for the past decade+? My bet is we’ve been exposed to it a lot longer than we realize. Corn and soy (in some form) are in almost everything these days, including clothing, shampoo, toothpaste, etc. I would also bet there are many GMO *corns and soys* around, all containing different, sometimes random, genetic organisms. This is why, to me, the whole absurd idea seems beyond dangerous because they don’t even KNOW what they’re creating. Thus my question here, many times and unanswered, do these folks eat their own concoctions?

  • Ken Conrad
    This sounds familiar.
    “If raw milk was such a public hazard, why did they have to dig up statistics from 1912 to 1937, and not more recent ones? The dates they chose were during the beginning of the “Industrial Age” and mass migrations to urban areas, where cows were also brought into the city to provide milk to the growing populations. Sanitation was obviously not what it is today, and the movement of small-scale raw milk suppliers today in the 21st century is in the opposite direction – out of industrial milk production and back to the countryside and artisanal methods.”
    “But here is one other fact to consider: The farmer, Stephen Hook, has starred in a full feature film about raw milk, The Moo Man, which currently is being promoted at the Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival. So by choosing to prosecute Farmer Hook, they have chosen a very high profile figure in the raw milk movement.”
  • Mary McGonigle-Martin
    As for raw milk and outbreaks, it is all about perspective. Some view it as a big deal and others don’t.

  • kturner
    David is right. This guy is a typical huckster. Loose on facts and trying to appear earnest.

    I read Miguel’s Nature article with interest. Each and every one of us reflects an entire cosmos of microbes. The article says that even two courses of an antibiotic like Cipro can irrevocably change those microbe populations. That gives a chance for new microbes to move in, and they might not be as friendly. I have seen a nod given to this concept at hospitals by prescribing Culturelle to patients on antibiotics. Meanwhile, it’s antibiotics for just about everything, including what you’ve gotten while you’re in hospital. Well, the antibiotics kill the Lactobacilli in the Culturelle too, so it’s very odd reasoning. Meanwhile, antibiotic resistance continues to rise, and people increasingly get very ill with C. difficile, meaning care-givers and visitors have to wear masks, gloves, and gowns every time they deal with the patient. Hospitals have enormous waste streams – the biggest part is the total futility of a lot of what they do. Chasing down and killing a certain class of microorganism often doesn’t improve the patient’s overall health.

  • D. Smith
    @ kturner: Who is “the guy” you’re referring to in your first sentence? I’m sorry but I’m lost on that.

    I have heard of people using probiotics at the same time as they are taking an antibiotic. This is just a crutch now being used by the medical industry to make people think they’re more cutting edge. Wrong. I’ve heard the explanation that you must take the probiotic two hours after a dose of antibiotic yada yada yada. That wouldn’t make one iota of difference, people and doctors are just fooling themselves.

    There are probably some forms of “alternative antibiotics” which could kill off the probiotic effects, as well. One must be careful even with alternatives. But food related forms of probiotic shouldn’t be an issue. Things like garlic and olive leaf, etc., should present no problems. Anyone know an answer to that?

  • ingvar
    Well, it looks like the antibiotics really are antibiotics, we ourselves being the biotics. They set us up for lots of disease and an early, expensive death by discombobulating the gut.

    And if this Iowa GMO corn from 2012 is food: Formaldehyde:GMO(200),Non-GMO(0);Ca:GMO(<20),Non-GMO(>6000);Mg:GMO(<5),Non-GMO(>100),&c., then I’m a monkey’s uncle.

    Let’s see, hmmm…, formaldehyde, formaldehyde,
    “Medical Management Guidelines, Formaldehyde …highly toxic to all animals and absorbed well by the GI tract… carcinogenic, toxic, and allergenic… contributes to reproductive problems… drops sperm counts in men… causes spontaneous abortion… symptoms at (0.5 – 3 ppm). Respiratory damage, chronic fatigue, irritation, GI tract injury, cancer, central nervous system, disrupts metabolism, suppressed immune system, vomiting, genotoxic, abdominal pain, ulceration, dizziness, death”

    Chemtrails up close & personal is on youtube BTW.

    There are some in positions of great power and influence that believe that if half or more of the population of the earth were killed off that that would be a good thing to have happen. What, I wonder, would their opinions be of medicine that kills and food that starves and sets you up for the medicines that kill. This medicine and food enriching their purveyors by having the “justice,” legislative, and executive branches in their pockets? Journalistic lapdogs. Educators that indoctrinate. A world filled with breathless, sensationalistic nonsense.

    Specualtion on another topic: If you look at the very, very, great decrease in the use of mercury in dentistry (no doubt fueled by patients opting out), that may be where the push to force you to use more mercury (by law no less, and of course) in your household lightbulbs came from.

    Gosh, the 49’ers or the Ravens, who do you think will win the Superbowl?

    Can’t we as a people, tend first to the very most important things by every realistic measure and then go out to play? We had better.

    All the best on this Sunday morning,
    Mr. J. Ingvar Odegaard

  • Deborah - Pacifica
    Good point on the probiotics, D. While there are many forms of probiotic supplements out there, including those made by big Pharma, it is little known that most of them are totally ineffective because they are killed off before they even reach the digestive tract. Many of the probiotic supplements on the main market are totally destroyed shortly after taking them and long before they reach the proper area within the body. There are a very small percentage of probiotic supplements that have been made in such a way that the probiotics are protected until they arrive into the digestive system which are then released. Unfortunately, the average person does not have the knowledge nor experience to know that they really need to investigate the probiotic supplement before buying it. I can guarantee the ones that are given in hospital, clinics, individual doctors (those made by big Pharma) are not effective at all and again, all because none of them really know what they are doing, nor have any idea of how probiotics are used, yet how delicate they really are.
  • miguel
    One thing we have learned from the human microbiome project is that all of us have so called “pathogens” in our microbiome. Interesting. Pathogen means an organism that causes disease but obviously these “pathogens” do not cause disease in most of us unless certain conditions are met.I imagine that nearly any organism could be said to be the cause of disease under certain conditions. I think of farms with 2000 cows confined in a building,or ten or twenty thousand chickens confined in a building. Because there is no reasonable way to handle so much excrement their waste products create a toxic situation. In a more natural unconfined situation lots of other organisms would benefit from a relationship with those cows or chickens.Their waste products would be nutrients rather than toxins. The certain conditions that turn an organism into a “pathogen” are that the relationships between that organism and the rest of the community have been disrupted in some way. Only when we study communities as a whole do we see that it is the disruption of these established relationships that is the real origin of disease.
  • D. Smith
    The only really “whole food” form of supplements that I know of are from Standard Process. You can check out their alphabetical listing for their products here:

    The last time I knew anything about them, however, was that because their products were pure and also contained soil, etc., they were having to fight Wisconsin laws and then were having to sell their stuff through prescription from a doctor. What is with Wisconsin anyway? However, I have also seen some of their products listed at Amazon, so I’m not sure what the scoop is on that now. I used to use their Primal Defense – good but expensive, and I don’t know if they make it anymore. It had probiotic and prebiotic tendencies, as well as good ol’ black dirt/soil.

  • Mary McGonigle-Martin
    “For the years 2009 and 2010, 13% of the outbreaks were related to dairy. Among the 36 dairy-associated outbreaks of which pasteurization information was reported, 26 (81%) involved unpasteurized products.”
  • D. Smith
    Ha! Check this out. They’re trying to blame the probiotic supplements rather than the antibiotic for the yeast/bacterial infection.

    Gotta be careful what you find on the internet. Check, check and recheck – and then check again. Your research efforts need to be stellar to navigate all the misinformation peddled online.

  • D. Smith
    Sorry, got my companies mixed up. The Primal Defense was made by Garden of Life, and the stuff I took from Standard Process was Catalyn and Zypan.
  • rawmilkmike
    When the CDC calls millions of testimonials anecdotal they are not saying that they are untrue or even unscientific. They are only saying that they are unpublished. Daaa, why would a competitor publish our testimonials? When we show them their own published works, that confirm the value of raw milk, suddenly they can’t read English. When we ask them for their published works, that support their anti raw milk claims, they suddenly don’t speak English.
  • D. Smith
    Bingo, mike. I prefer anecdotal information myself. It’s coming from a real live person, not some test tube experiment. I realize everyone is different in the way they will process and/or react to things, including things as seemingly innocent as food. Nevertheless, I prefer warm, species related words, and I can always check with various others and get an overall feeling about things. Anything from the CDC et al generally sparks my bullsh!t-o-meter into the red zone.
  • mark mcafee
    The Department of Health Services enforced the Commercial Speech regulations and fined me $8,000 dollars for posting Asthma testimonials on our commercial website.

    However…..there is no law that prohibits the posting of testimonials on a non profit website or an unrelated free speech website like this blog.

    Legally, we can invite and post personal raw milk testimonials at RAWMI and this is 100% legal as long as the information is truthful and a true testimonial. RAWMI is a 501C3 ORG.

    Thats the trick to this FDA freedom of speech issue.

    I had a lump in my throat as I watched this Morningland raw cheese confiscation video this morning.

    This is fighting that does not win…it is all about meaningless free speech…..none of these words win anything. Just is a pissing match….not a winning battle strategy.

    It would have been so much better to have been in business for the last two years and not been closed down by fighting. I just would not ever let the regulators take my business out of commerce. That is the real loss. Cheese can be replaced…your vitality in business perhaps not.

  • D. Smith
    I found this article to be quite interesting. It starts out talking about Aaron Swartz but stay with it, as it delves into the subject of prosecutors and plea bargaining and asking if people are naive.

    We need to move the prosecutors out of the way:

    I found this, originally, at Instapundit/Glenn Reynolds.

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