Mark McAfee, owner of Raw Farm by Organic Pastures Dairy, has teamed with Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) to appeal a court ruling that upheld the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) ban on the interstate transport, distribution and sales of raw butter. The parties are appealing a May 24, 2021 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras. Contreras determined that the FDA has the power to ban foods indefinitely under a public-health law meant only for emergencies.
“We appealed this ruling to protect our members from extraordinary government overreach,” says FTCLDF Executive Director Alexia Kulwiec. “Without either legislative approval or scientific justification the FDA has prohibited the interstate sale of a safe, and nutrient-rich product, and suggested the agency has nearly limitless authority to do so.”
In June 2016, FTCLDF and Organic Pastures Dairy filed a Petition with the FDA requesting it to reverse its ban and permit the interstate sale of raw butter. In February 2020, they had to sue the FDA in federal court to obtain a decision, and on February 27, 2020, the FDA issued a decision denying the petition and upholding the raw butter ban. FTCLDF and McAfee then sought for the court to reverse the FDA decision.
The May 24, 2021 ruling and the FDA ban rests on the Public Health Service Act (PHSA). “Congress has long excluded butter from the FDA’s authority,” says Board member and attorney Mahesha Subbaraman. “If the FDA can use the PHSA to evade this key limit, the FDA is free to ban not only raw butter but also apples, oysters, sushi, and every other raw food that Americans hold dear.”
“The use of public health law by the FDA to ban raw butter access represents an unfounded abuse of authority,” agrees McAfee. “This must stop for the health of our consumers and the right of farmers to produce safe, whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods to feed us all.”
To read more about the background of this case, please visit www.farmtoconsumer.org/raw-butter
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Services provided by FTCLDF go beyond legal representation for members in court cases.
Educational and policy work also provide an avenue for FTCLDF to build grassroots activism to create the most favorable regulatory climate possible. In addition to advising on bill language, FTCLDF supports favorable legislation via action alerts and social media outreach.
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