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Ontario Appeals Ruling On Raw Dairy

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The Ontario government has filed to appeal last month’s court ruling that allows a “cow-share” program to distribute unpasteurized raw milk to willing consumers.

Lawyers for the province have filed a notice of appeal with the Ontario Court of Justice at Newmarket, the same community where Justice of the Peace Paul Kowarsky on Jan. 21 found for the program’s organizer, Durham dairy farmer Michael Schmidt.

Kowarsky had ruled that Schmidt’s scheme was not a violation of Ontario’s public health rules or milk-marketing regulations, as there was no selling or marketing for the product.

The cow-share program distributes raw milk to members of a co-operative who own shares of the cow.

Kowarsky’s ruling essentially exempts such schemes from provincial and federal laws requiring that milk sold commercially must be pasteurized.

The cow-share program’s members, he ruled, “consume the milk at their own risk” and are not the “vulnerable” people for whose protection the laws on pasteurization are written.

Kowarsky’s ruling, hailed by Schmidt and his supporters, drew concern from the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, which had urged the province to appeal.

“At a time when all other public health developments are focusing on the critical task of continuing to improve food safety and public health, actions that put public health at increased risk are not in the public interest,” the DFO said last month.

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