A local dairy owner is cheesed over how the Missouri Milk Board ordered 15 tons of cheese destroyed after a 2 1/2-year legal dispute. Joseph Dixon, owner of Morningland Dairy near Mountain View, Mo., told KYTV he “sees the destruction” of a livelihood his family “worked to build” for years in southern Missouri. On Friday, heavy moving equipment dumped nearly 30,000 pounds of raw cheese into a dumpster headed to a landfill. How the product got there is the dramatic end to a long struggle.
* Dixon’s raw cheese was called into question when tests done in California revealed two types of bacteria in the product. The KYTV piece states a second test was conducted in St. Louis and found similar results from California — listeria and staph-aureus were found.
* Dixon disputes the test, believing raw cheese is healthier than other cheese. His cheesemaking equipment was found to be free of bacteria by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He also told the news media outlet the government hasn’t “found anything, no sicknesses, no illnesses in 30 years.”
* The Morningland Dairy website shows Dixon’s frustration with the process. The family worked with the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) to appeal the process. The dairy owner said the state and FDA used “improperly handled and very questionable test results from California” before recalling all of the cheese made in 2010. . . .
* Courts sided with the Missouri Milk Board, an entity that embargoed the cheese 2 1/2 years ago after the bacterial tests. Both Howell County Circuit Court and the Missouri Court of Appeals upheld the Board’s authority on the matter. Dixon asked for a jury trial but was denied because the case stemmed from a regulation and not a law. . . .
* Legal documents posted by the FTCLDF reveal facts about the case. The Missouri Supreme Court refused to hear the case as of Dec. 18. The Missouri Court of Appeals found “no error and affirm the judgment” of the lower court .
Dixon’s website tells his side of the story, making some interesting claims as to the behavior and candid comments from the Milk Board inspectors: “Don Falls, our inspector, told us that NO amount of testing would stop our cheese from being ‘suspect’.”
They came. The Missouri Milk Board representatives came to our cheese plant and used-to-be farm and took our cheese – all of it – on Friday, January 25th, 2013. Dressed in casual clothes, with no special gear, they loaded up all 36,000+ pounds of hard-earned cheese, and sent it off to a local dump in two large dumpsters. Months and months‘ worth of fresh, whole, raw milk, made into healthful, tasty cheese through a lot of hard work, just destroyed, without ever being properly tested.
Though NO contamination was found in our plant or our milk barn (and the FDA looked really hard for it), no amount of reasoning could persuade our Milk Board representatives to sway from their unfounded determination that our cheese must be destroyed. Though no proper test had ever been done on our cheese, Don Falls, our inspector, told us that NO amount of testing would stop our cheese from being “suspect”. We even asked if 100 clean tests on one block of cheese would clear that block of cheese; he answered that it would still be “suspect”. But after the FDA gave us our clean test results, we were hopeful that when Missouri Milk Board executive secretary Gene Wiseman came to our plant, he might have a better answer. Wiseman, however, calmly told us that all the cheese must be destroyed, and when, after swallowing tears, we then asked if we could at least curb our heavy loss by selling our cheese to be used as dog food, he said, no, that our cheese would even be too dangerous for dogs to eat.