Valley Milk Simply Bottled is California raw milk that has been quarantined and recalled four times since 2019, most recently last week.
The Modesto Bee just visited the dairy, located six miles west of the town of Modesto. The local dairy newspaper reports finding milkman Joe Bento “unruffled”.
“Even though we go through things like this, I still enjoy it,” Bento told the Bee.
When he says “stuff like that”, Bento is referring to the recent California Department of Health report on illegal levels of Campylobacter jejuni found by the state Department of Food and Agriculture in raw milk. of cow produced and bottled by his company.
A mandatory recall and quarantine resulted from “stuff like that.”
Bento told the Bee that he is eager to resume selling raw unpasteurized milk directly to consumers. With the recall and quarantine, raw milk is poured down the drain rather than into plastic jugs.
“We still have all the costs associated with it and no income comes in,” Bento told the Bee while being in the midst of his nearly 200 cows. Its goat and sheep milk are also in quarantine.
At the time of the publication of the last recall and quarantine notice, no illnesses had been reported. Health officials say people who have consumed the milk or served it to others should monitor themselves for symptoms of Campylobacter infections.
The Agriculture Department said Campylobacter jejuni can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever, but most people make a full recovery. Symptoms usually appear two to five days after exposure and last for about a week. Children and the elderly or people with weakened immune systems can develop serious infections and require hospitalization.
Bento’s Raw cow’s milk is dispensed in one gallon (128 oz) and half gallon (64 oz) plastic cans with brown caps labeled “Valley Milk Simply Bottled Raw Milk” or “DESI MILK Raw Milk”.
The recall order applies to products marked on their packaging with code expiration dates of September 26, 2021 through October 03, 2021, according to the state’s Department of Agriculture.
“Consumers are strongly urged to get rid of any product left in their refrigerators, and retailers should immediately remove the product from their shelves. Company products marked with other expiration dates or with bottle caps a different color from brown are not subject to the recall order, “according to the State Department.
Bento said independent tests have not found the source of the problem in feeding the cattle or other parts of the operation.
Prior to the current recall, Valley Milk recalled products made from raw goat’s milk at the end of August.
The unpasteurized raw goat’s milk was produced by Valley Milk Simply Bottled in Stanislaus County, according to a recall notice issued by state veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones. The same producer made recalls in 2019 and 2020 because of Campylobacter in their raw milk.
Valley Milk Simply Bottled is in no way related to Valley Milk, LLC, which produces powdered milk at a large factory in Turlock, California.
Bento, 48, began producing raw milk for direct sale to consumers in 2013. He grew up in a Portuguese-American dairy family. Its trafficking operation and related household chores employ six people.
Claravale Farm in San Benito County, Duivenvoorden Dairy in Shasta County, Organic Pastures Dairy in Fresno County, and Schoch Family Farmstead near Salinas are the other four raw milk dairies in California.
Bento sales are aimed at people passing through the farm, some are sold at online “meetups” in the Bay and Sacramento areas, and others go to specialty stores under the Desi label, run by Desiree Lopez from Stockton.
Its raw milk is safe, Bento says, because it’s refrigerated right after leaving the cow at 101 degrees. He said the jugs can stay in a refrigerator for up to two weeks without spoiling.
Advocates of raw milk say the rich flavor and nutrients are enough to offset the risk of skipping the safety step of pasteurization, which involves briefly heating at a high temperature to kill bacteria, parasites and viruses.
(To subscribe to Food Safety News for free, Click here.)