RAW AND REGULATED
Mark and Leesa Robinson own and operate Marlee's Creamery out of their farm in Carthage, Mo. They're only allowed to sell their farm's raw milk direct-to-consumer — the same as any other raw milk in Missouri. Yet, they're the only raw milk farmers in the state who have maintained their Grade A retail permit.
To maintain this permit requires the Robinsons to jump through a lot of hoops. After every use, Mark has to disassemble the closed-system machinery that transports milk from the cow to the bottle. This makes it easier for the surprise biweekly inspections from state authorities. Since raw milk is not heated during pasteurization, it is also held to higher standards regarding bacteria and coliform counts. Raw milk sellers without a retail permit don't have to follow any of these restrictions.
The FDA cites an increased risk of food-borne pathogens and outbreaks as reason not to drive raw milk. But Robinson says the outbreaks come from unsafe practices, not the milk itself.
"We're up against decades and centuries of old information," Robinson said.