Deja Vu All Over Again? Mix OPDC, CDFA, Raw Milk, and You Get Potent Brew of Political Drama…in 2006 and 2011

Back in the fall of 2006, the California Department of Food and Agriculture shut down Organic Pastures Dairy Co. after the state identified six children it said were sickened by E.coli O157:H7. Inspectors invaded the dairy and carried out hundreds of manure and environmental tests. The dairy was only allowed to resume production some two weeks later, after its owner, Mark McAfee, called a press conference to protest that the CDFA was dragging its heels in lifting its quarantine–he threatened legal action and consumer protests.

Five years later, and the story has unfolded in amazingly similar fashion. The CDFA shuttered Organic Pastures four weeks ago, after California health authorities connected the dairy with five illnesses from E.coli O157:H7 scattered around the state. Extensive testing of manure samples and the OPDC facilities was carried out.

OPDC says it went about the last four weeks upgrading its dairy facilities and correcting problems identified by the state. When, in recent days, it says it passed the state’s inspection with flying colors, and its private testing of products showed no evidence of pathogen contamination, the state still hadn’t allowed the dairy to re-open.

By early today, having experienced an estimated $500,000 in lost sales, McAfee says, he had had enough. He filed a court action contesting the shutdown, and had called a press conference for this afternoon, at which he planned to urge his army of 60,000 raw milk drinkers to bombard the offices of their legislators and Gov. Jerry Brown with calls and emails.

An Organic Pastures dairy truck, on the roll again. By this afternoon, the CDFA issued a press release in which it announced that the quarantine of OPDC had been lifted, except for distribution of colostrum, which the state says it continues to test.

The debate over what actually might have gone wrong at OPDC in 2006 has continued intermittently for the last five years. McAfee has argued that no pathogens were ever found at his dairy linking it with the 2006 illnesses, but there was an out-of-court financial settlement with two families whose children were most seriously sickened. There were subsequent findings of non-matching E.coli O157:H7 in cattle manure and of campylobacter in the dairy’s cream.

This time around, OPDC said E.coli O157:H7 was discovered in the manure of two calves, which were kept separate from the milking cows. There were also reports earlier on in the testing process of a listeria finding in a dairy product.

Yet McAfee is already taking issue with the CDFA’s version of today’s events, as expressed in its press release. The CDFA stated in part: “During the quarantine, the (OPDC) facility was prohibited from producing raw milk products for the retail market.  The order affected milk as well as raw butter, raw cream, raw colostrum, and a raw product labeled ‘Qephor.’ At this time, the quarantine hold on raw colostrum remains because it is the subject of continuing investigation by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).

McAfee didn’t appreciate the CDFA press release. “It is filled with ugly lies,” he said.  “None of the kids drank colostrum, yet they mislead the reader to think that we have some pathogen in our colostrum. The bug they found is a new potential pathogen. It is not ecoli O157:H7. It is a non regulatory bug. They told us this a week ago. The kids drank raw milk and had ecoli O157:H7. Classic smoke screen.They cannot find the smoking gun pathogen….so create one that does not exist as a distraction from the truth.”

Whatever the disagreement over verbiage, Organic Pastures has opened its own doors for raw dairy sales, and has begun shipping to its retailers around the state. Customers on the dairy’s Facebook page, who have been bemoaning their loss of raw milk for the last four weeks, seem thrilled.

But don’t be surprised if the fog of a raw milk war doesn’t lift all that quickly, and the varying stories from the shutdown of 2011 continue for years to come.

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30 Comments on "Deja Vu All Over Again? Mix OPDC, CDFA, Raw Milk, and You Get Potent Brew of Political Drama…in 2006 and 2011"

Mary Martin
December 17, 2011

Here we go again. :-)

Sylvia Gibson
December 17, 2011

None of those kids ate any poultry, produce,beef ,water,etc and they all washed their hands really well, all they consumed was raw milk and did nothing else. Still waiting for the state to tell how they determined how they came to the conclusion that it was the milk. I asked and all I received was the email I posted yesterday, which shows that they determined it was the milk because that is what they all drank….if that is how they came to the conclusion, it shows lack of scientific processing.

"The bug they found is a new potential pathogen."

What is it?

Barney Google
December 18, 2011

Wow, it's so quiet I can hear the crickets chirping!!!

Gordon Watson
December 18, 2011

by which you mean you have something into which to sink your poisonous fangs, again. … isn't that what you meant by that smirking icon at the end of your barb?
most of the contributors to this forum want to see REAL MILK normalized, so the nation can be fed properly. My highest priority is : REAL MILK being readily available so children can get the Vitamin K2 they need for perfect teeth and strong bones

it never ceases to amaze me that little vipers like MM can muster the time / energy to spend their lives dragging down the producers.
But "there's nothing so useless it can't at least be used as a bad example" = apparently, the trolls and destroyers have a role in the political ecology, too.

Mary Martin
December 18, 2011

Sylvia, did you look at this link when it was posted previously?

This is the form that is used in California by the health department. The form is called, ECOLI0157:H7, OTHER STEC, SHIGA TOXIN POSITIVE FECES, AND/OR HUS CASE REPORT. It asks all the questions about what foods had been consumed.

Here is another link about epidemiology and how it works. David posted it a few weeks ago. You have to click on the red highlighted words to read the 2 part series by Dr. Michele Jay-Russell.

Gordon, you really need to take an anger management class. My smirking icon was to David. He gets what the smile means. I sure anyone who has spent 5 years on this blog gets it too.

Look what I found.

It appears there are other foods that are good sources of vitamin K. Good and health and nutrition is not all about raw milk.

Steve Bemis
December 18, 2011

Mark is a big boy and can take care of himself. If we choose to spend the next five years playing what-if about Mark's operation we will surely be playing right into the hands of those who choose to blow every raw milk incident out of proportion. There are thousands of small raw milk farmers out there, some choosing to stay totally out of the limelight and some choosing to fight openly for the rights we all have to eat the foods we choose. Let's keep our eye on that ball and support them, since that's where the real action is, with the Moms and other consumers who are marching and driving in support of these freedoms helping to show us the way.

Sylvia Gibson
December 18, 2011

Yes Mary, I saw that link and I had asked questions regarding it and did not get answers. I also sent an email tptb in Ca and all I got back was what I posted yesterday, they did not answer my questions.

According to what I received from the state of Ca, the way they determined the cause of illness was the fact that they all drank milk, the same milk that they apparently haven't found the same e-coli in. I've no doubt if they found it they would have plastered it everywhere.

I don't always see eye to eye with Mark, I don't believe in accusing someone of anything without proof, hearsay and guessing is not proof. I wanted specifics on how they determine their conclusions, I have not received that yet.

Steve, knowing how tptb determine their results would show that the regulators use guessing games to determine causes. Just glancing through the posters on Mark's facebook page, shows that they believe the state has singled out OP, they attacked OP with no proof. They reinforced their own unjust behavior regarding raw dairy.

I would like to see their report that should show how they came to their conclusions. I would expect to see their proof of cause.

Mom to Boys
December 18, 2011

I am so glad that I can get OPs raw products when we go back to California after Christmas! What the ag officials did in California would never be done to Big Dairy here in Wisconsin or anywhere else…never.

In the meantime, here in WI all of us need to show up at court for Vernon Hershberger on January 11th. Take of work…whatever it takes.

We picked up our Christmas tree at a dairy farm nearby a few days ago. We got on the subject of raw milk with the farmer. He stated that all of the dairy farmers he knew were frustrated that they could drink raw milk, but they couldn't sell it. He is struggling to keep his family farm and sells Christmas trees and pumpkins to supplement his income. I told him that I believed it was just a matter of time. It will be a while, but it is just a matter of time.

Joseph Heckman
December 18, 2011

I am glad that Organic Pastures Dairy is back. If I lived in California Mark would be my farmer and I would drink Organic Pastures Milk.

damaged justice
December 18, 2011

Milk is not the best source of K2. That would be organ meats. Dairy is not an absolute necessity or a unique source of nutrients found nowhere else.

Honesty and accuracy. Accuracy and honesty.

December 18, 2011

"Dairy is not an absolute necessity or a unique source of nutrients found nowhere else."

Maybe not, but it IS the best with the most of them… reason why it's possible for people, children and adults, to live–even thrive–on 100% milk alone; the only other single food source that's possible to live 100% on is meat.

Try that with 100% kale or lettuce or broccoli or potatoes, or 100% apples or bananas, or 100% wheat or corn… or 100% of any other SINGLE, non-meat food item you can think of.

Sylvia Gibson
December 18, 2011

"our findings suggest a protective effect of menaquinone intake against CHD, which could be mediated by inhibition of arterial calcification. Adequate intake of foods rich in menaquinones, such as curds and (low-fat) cheese, may contribute to CHD prevention. "

The body thrives on a variety of nutrients. People drink raw milk for many reasons, taste, healthier in an unadulterated state, etc.

K2 may be the next "nutrient of the hour" along with D3

lola granola
December 18, 2011

"…the only other single food source that's possible to live 100% on is meat."

From Loren Cordain, Ph.D., author of "The Paleo Diet":

"At this point, it should be noted that there is a physiological limit to the amount of protein that can be ingested before it becomes toxic. A byproduct of dietary protein metabolism is nitrogen, which in turn is converted into urea by the liver and then excreted by the kidneys into the urine. The upper limit of protein ingestion is determined by the liver's ability to synthesize urea. When nitrogen intake from dietary protein exceeds the ability of the liver to synthesize urea, excessive nitrogen (as ammonia) spills into the bloodstream causing hyperammonemia and toxicity. Additionally excess amino acids from the metabolism of high amounts of dietary protein may become toxic by entering the circulation causing hyperaminoacidemia."

damaged justice
December 18, 2011

Lola: On a healthy all-meat diet, the majority of caloric intake is not derived from protein, but from fat.

Ingvar Odegaard
December 19, 2011

for yall yalls information (fyyi)

What: An interview by Dr. Mercola with Dr. Don Huber
Title: The Hidden Epidemic Destroying Your Gut Flora
When: Posted By Dr. Mercola | December 10 2011 |

Summary Snippet:
Important Summary
As Dr. Huber said
"When future historians come to write about our era they are not going to write about the tons of chemicals we did or didn't apply. When it comes to glyphosate they are going to write about our willingness to sacrifice our children and to jeopardize our very existence by risking the sustainability of our agriculture; all based upon failed promises and flawed science.
The only benefit is that it affects the bottom-line of a few companies. There's no nutritional value."
**end summary snippet**

Where is our Congress? Where are our leaders?
We are in trouble.
Have a prayerful day.

Mr. J. Ingvar Odegaard

December 19, 2011

DJ said: "On a healthy all-meat diet, the majority of caloric intake is not derived from protein, but from fat."

Absolutely correct… I should have said, "100% FAT meat and organs."

Sylvia Gibson
December 19, 2011

Tossing that ham hock or bacon into your pot of greens, better absorbs the nutrients.

Mark McAfee
December 19, 2011

Happy Dancing, Tears of Joy, Christmas Greetings and Blessing to All…

OPDC is back on store shelves after 30 days on quarantine. Yesterday I visited with our consumers in Southern CA at our HUB sale. Normally we sell about $3000 dollars, yesterday it was $6200 in just two hours. It was very polite hording. Cars leaving with eigtht cases of raw milk…

A camera recorded all of the conversations. It was fascinating for me to hear the stories from real people about 30 days with out raw milk.

When CDFA truely feels that it has saved the pubic from a raw milk scurge….the public believes that CDFA has brought illness into their families. Serious illness. What a complete disconnect. I am sure that this story will be told to the CA State Vet Dr. Ann Whiteford. I am sure she will be thoughtful of her contributions to illness brought by her actions. She is a very good person and I am sure she will wonder about this.

One mom said her child had a flare up of asthma after three weeks with out raw milk and drinking pasteurized milk. She said never again. She is freezing ten half gallons of raw milk for insurance.

Another family reported that their child was getting quickly better from GERD after just three weeks on OPDC raw milk when OPDC raw milk was recalled. The GERD is back and getting worse. The family and the family doctor both considered it a near if not clear medical emergency to get raw milk into their baby.

There were several that spoke of their arthritic flaring ups after weeks with out raw milk. There was even an ER visit for Asthma because of no raw milk.

The evidence now shows that no pathogens could be found in any OPDC products or the products that the kids actually consumed…none. The only pathogens found were in our calf raising area and we do not milk our calves. The calves are now in "time out" and biosecured away from any potential contact with our herd. I told them that they should be glad that I love them and that I not believe in veal. They did not seem amused….

OPDC is better than ever with $50,000 of renovations and after installing a $150,000 Federal Filler Capper that arrived the day after the recall was initiated ( we had ordered it months ago and did not know the arrival date ….interesting timing ). We ripped OPDC apart to make sure that every little detail or complaint that CDFA could ever have with us was fixed and made perfect. We now have a 100% plant score. new floors, new walls, new lights, new doors, new drains, new fencing in our dairy area and much much more.

We also know that both kids that were sickened are now home ( out of five total reported sick only two were hospitalized ). We are very grateful for that. We just do not know how our calves and the kids became connected and if they ever did. The investigation continues into this possible link…we just do not know. But we do know this. It is statistically off the charts and near impossible to have all five of the raw milk samples that the all five of the kids drank tested and all five tested negative. I can see one or two missing a test….but all five negative. That is a slam dunk that is was not raw milk but some other connection to our calves etc…we just do not know. May be the kids licked our bottles and it was on the outside…god knows.

Here is a very special link to something I did with Mercola with me just before the recall. Raw Milk suporters comments are awesome. If nothing else….you can see me in a Tie…I never wear one. Great questions and a great discussion with Dr. Joe Mercola on a full range of Raw Milk hot topics.

I do not throw any one under the bus!!!

This last month has been a trial of many things. We will be publishing a You Tube describing the ups, downs, trials and tribulations of a post "Food Safety Modernization Act" CA raw Milk shut down and how we survived and now thrive. Our RAMP program has had some additions made to it. We are NOT GOING AWAY….WE ARE GETTING BETTER!!

All indications show my theory of the inverse relationship between Government Harrassment of raw milk….and increased Sales….being correct.

The more government harrasses raw milk the more people demand it.

All the best, hugs and Merry Christmas to all….and especially our wonderous consumers!!

Mark and our tremendous team at OPDC.

Sylvia Gibson
December 19, 2011


"The evidence now shows that no pathogens could be found in any OPDC products or the products that the kids actually consumed…none. "

This statement shows there is no correlation between your milk and the kids illness….

The next statement confuses what you just said…..

"We just do not know how our calves and the kids became connected and if they ever did. The investigation continues into this possible link…"

Are you saying the kids had the same strain of e-coli that your calves had?

If so, since the calves are separate from the milking cows, how would the bacteria get into the milk? I am asking because, if the known point of entry of the contamination is known, it could be prevented in the future.

Would you please clarify?

lola granola
December 19, 2011

The quotation from Cordain is not regarding protein as a percentage of caloric intake, but number of grams of protein per day. He continues, "Using known maximal rates of urea synthesis (MRUS) in normal subjects [65 mg N/h x kg (body weight)], it is possible to calculate the maximal protein intake, beyond which will exceed MRUS and result in hyperammonemia and hyperaminoacidemia. The mean maximal protein intake for the average weight U.S. male (189.4 lbs.) is then 270 g/day [range 233-322 g/day], and for an average weight female (162.8 lbs.), 246 g/day [range 208-288 g/day]."

According to, one pound of ground beef has 80-100 grams of protein; one pound of steak has 130-135 grams. Is it not possible to reach a toxic protein level on an all meat diet?

Milky Way
December 19, 2011

Whatever product was left over would be days to weeks old – not comparable to the original fresh milk that the children drank. Thus, a negative test from leftover milk does not vindicate the raw milk. Likewise, negative tests from other lots of milk (not drank by the patients) only show that the problem is not ongoing and allows for release of the quarantine; negative tests from other lots do not disprove the link between the milk and the children. If the calves were carrying the outbreak strain, this is very strong evidence that the dairy was the source of the outbreak. E. coli O157 can be moved around by flies and dusts (common on dairies) and potentially contaminate the milking environment.


Amanda Rose
December 19, 2011

Mark said:

"It is statistically off the charts and near impossible to have all five of the raw milk samples that the all five of the kids drank tested and all five tested negative."

I agree with this and would add that the first statistical impossibility is that samples were remaining from all five cases. Can you confirm, Mark, that this is what happened? They had an opened and partially consumed bottle in each case? This would probably be a first to have samples in 100% of the victims. Your grammatical structure, Mark, makes it hard to know if that's what you are saying.


December 19, 2011

"According to, one pound of ground beef has 80-100 grams of protein; one pound of steak has 130-135 grams. Is it not possible to reach a toxic protein level on an all meat diet?"

FAT meat, Lola, not lean. No one can live on lean meat… that's where Cordain has gone wrong. An all-meat diet with only lean meat causes rabbit starvation:

Eat FAT hamburger, fatty cuts of meat, and eat all the fat on your prime steaks and roasts instead of leaving them on your plate to give to the dogs; eat the skin and fat on your chickens. One pound of 75% hamburger has about 70 g protein and 1300 calories; 80% has around 110 g and 1100 calories, even doubled is well within the range. Avoid skinless chickens and other purely lean meat or else cook and/or douse them with plenty of animal fat.

I'm a low-carber, who's eaten a 100% fatty-meat diet for months at a time… with an all-fatty meat diet, your appetite dwindles and you are satisfied with less meat. Just like dogs on an all-(fatty) meat diet naturally eat less than they do on a kibble diet.

December 19, 2011

Forgot to say, many people think Atkins is a high-protein diet. It's not… it's a high-fat, moderate-protein diet, usually running around 70-75% fat and 15-20% protein, with balance in carbohydrates.

Mary Martin
December 19, 2011

We also know that both kids that were sickened are now home (out of five total reported sick only two were hospitalized ).

3 children became ill with HUS, not two. It is important to get the facts correct.

The quarantine order came following a notification from the California Department of Public Health of a cluster of five children who were infected, from August through October, with the same strain of E. coli O157:H7. These children are residents of Contra Costa, Kings, Sacramento, and San Diego counties. Interviews with the families indicate that the only common reported food exposure is unpasteurized (raw) milk from Organic Pastures dairy THREE OF THE FIVE CHILDREN WERE HOSPITALIZED WITH HEMOLYTIC UREMIC SYNDROME, a serious condition that may lead to kidney failure. There have been no deaths. Surveys indicate that only about three percent of the public report drinking raw milk in any given week so finding 100% of these children drank raw milk and the absence of other common foods or animal exposures indicates the Organic Pastures raw milk is the likely source of their infection.

We also dont know if more kids became ill after the recall was implemented. In 2006, two more children showed up ill.

Milky Way
December 19, 2011

@Mary The state outbreak investigation is not complete. But, the company is treated like any other – once they show corrective actions in place, they are good to go back into production. This same scenario has played out repeatedly with ground beef, spinach, eggs, etc.


Violet Willis
December 19, 2011

Okay . . . Calves had the matching strain . . . and who were those calves moms . . . are they still on the farm milking or at the butcher . . . I suspect those cows have already been culled from the herd . . .

I don't expect Mark will tell us this . . . but for god sakes if a calf has this bacteria . . . it must have been innoculated at birth . . . after all . . . don't understand how it could arise on it's own without a vector . . .from Mom . . .

As a farmer . . . I understand this . . . .

And if this is so . . . how can anyone drink Mark's milk . . . if he cannot trace where those calfs originate . . . from individual mom's . . .

This is why the CAFO model does not work . . . Mark . . . this is your model and don't deny it . . . you take the calfs off shortly after birth and then begin to milk mom without the calf at the side . . there is another way to milk and that means keeping the calf at the side of mom and only milking once or twice a day . . . you get about 20% less milk . . . but your cow and calf are much healthier as the stress is reduced . . .this is what many small artisanal grass fed dairies do , , ,

Your model . . . is really not a healthy raw milk model . . .for both the calf, cow and most importantly . . . your customer . . .

Kind regards,


Mark McAfee
December 19, 2011


My information comes from a direct source high inside DPH. Only two kids were hospitalized not three. I do consider a visit to the hospital a hospitalization. No one is privy to details…HIPPA laws.

Amanda, we have been advised that the actual milk ( raw milk from their homes that they actually drank ) that the five kids drank was tested and found to be negative. That is what we were told. It is unclear whether all five kids or the four homes that those fives kids live in are represented by the samples tested. DPH has shared information with us….but we submitted many questions to them which remain unanswered. It is possible that only four samples were tested because there were only four families and four homes. Two kids were from one home. Two kids suffered HUS….not three. If three suffered HUS the third was extremely mild and did not require treatment in a hospital. My opinion….after deducing what I can, given limited information.

No link could be found in our cows manure, facilities or products. All tests from the more than 24 cap dates over the three months in question were all negative. There was no cluster of illnesses. 65000 people did not get sick each week. Illnesses happened weeks apart…??? Scattered over months.

The calves did show 0157H7. It is unknown and remains unclear if there is a DNA match between the kids pathogen genetic finger print and the samples taken from the calf area. The investigation is ongoing. We did tour people near our calves during this period.

We have initiated a biosecurity program to assure that kids do not contact our calves and employees do not connect calves bacteria and cows or creamery areas.

We now test every batch of milk. We are developing a pay bonuses system for excellence in milking for our employees. Super clean udders and cow legs have always been a goal….but we have taken this to a whole new level. The combination of QA RAMP steps are core intellectual properties that we have developed and will include in training with RAWMI members.

I am happy to answer questions….but I have a new blogging policy. I will blog as an educational outreach effort. I will not become engaged in any back and forth negative bantering. None. I have far better things to do and negativity is against every thing we believe in.

All the best,


Violet Willis
December 19, 2011

Sorry Mark,

RAWMI on a Local, grass based,l Artisanal scale will never, ever happen . . .

Don't really care about this:

"Super clean udders and cow legs have always been a goal….but we have taken this to a whole new level. The combination of QA RAMP steps are core intellectual properties that we have developed and will include in training with RAWMI members."

WOW . . . are you dipping those legs and udders in triclosan?:)

Healthy, unstressed cows will produce the best quality . . .healthy milk . . . no matter how clean those udders and legs are:)

Never had to dip my lamb's navel's and never had one sick from Navel Ill . . . our lambs are healthy at birth due to our husbandry . . . which is the key to farming . . . Animal husbandry for the most part has been forgotten over the last 70 or so years . . .due to reliance on animals counted as units in Big Ag accounting . . .and disposed of when production begins to fall off . . .

Kind regards,


Violet Willis
December 19, 2011


Notice . . . Mark did not answer my direct question about the calf's mom's . . . that is where the E-Coli 0157H7 came from.

Kind regards