Did you ever wonder why there are different options for obtaining dairy products in Utah? And just what are the differences in the programs? How do they affect you and your beloved family (the consumer) and me (the producer)?
Well, let us take a look. I was asked not long ago how one knows if their milk is good if they are not a Grade A Raw Dairy. My Response, "I've worked with health inspectors in three different states. Held a current Food Handler's Permit in Nevada, Utah and South Dakota. The inspectors will tell you that they know that as soon as they turn their back on the producer (restaurant, dairy, bakery etc) many producers go back to their old habits of unclean practices. I worked at a bakery for a short time (no name will be disclosed) who sells wholesale and a lot of retail. Well known bakery. A huge reason that I quit is because of some of their practices.
1) Picking food off the floor and baking it or packaging it for unsuspecting customers
2) packaging product with bare hands...
This is a well known commercial bakery and NOT a home bakery. I know at least one licensed Raw to Retail dairy who chills their milk in the refrigerator, does not temperature test their milk because the state does it for them once a month, does not wash hands between does and also does not sanitize the udders in any way except to brush their bare hand across the udders. ....
Also by FDA standards, raw milk dairies are typically NOT Grade A, because many of them are not pipeline and the producer handles the milk. Utah calls Raw Milk dairies Grade A, but freely admits that technically most raw milk dairies in Utah are actually Raw to Retail Licensed Dairies, NOT Grade A. The State of Utah does not test unless there is an illness for one of the most dangerous bacteria; camphylobacteria, because its too hard to test for.
Bottom Line then
Calling one's self Grade A Raw Milk Dairy in Utah is just a false sense of security for you. Many licensed and unlicensed dairies do a tremendous job of following health standards. Others pretend to and hide under the name of Grade A licensing to sell their product. While the inspectors do a wonderful job and we have learned so much from them, they are not catching the real problems in licensed dairies and some of them actually tell the licensed dairies that they are just fine to 'keep doing what they are doing' because the bacteria count is good at present. In reality, some of these dairies are violating some very serious health standards and dairy code. So is the milk from a licensed or non-licensed dairy/bakery/etc safe? It all depends upon if the producer is health-conscious and would follow or reach ABOVE health standards, even if they were not licensed. It all depends upon the producer. This is true even with foods that we get in grocery stores."
We at Northern Dawn Dairy strive to uphold strict health standards. We choose to not become licensed at this time, because through the herd share program, we are able to provide more products of a raw nature for you an your family...We love the Herd Share program and know that you do too. That being said, let us take a look at the pros and cons of both programs that Utah Currently has and compare.
Program: Herd Share
Herd Share puts food standards in the hands of the producer to decide what standards they will adhere to. Thus, if they want to sell their dairy products, they have to make the decision to uphold strict standards.
They are not forced into anything. Its the responsibility of the consumer to check out their intended facility to see if it meets the standards they desire to purchase from.
Program: Licensed Raw to Retail
The consumer must sign the waiver of liability
The producer has to first meet UDAF facility requirements. Then they have to apply for the license to sell raw milk. If the inspector approves the facility and if the first bacteria counts are good, then the dairy obtains a permit to sell raw milk. UDAF calls it a Grade A dairy. However, Federal calls it Raw to Retail and not Grade A dairy. State tests the milk monthly for Standard Plate Count, Coliform and somatic cell count. They do not routinely test for camphylobacteria. If at any time the counts are too high the permit to sell milk will temporarily be pulled. Thus the producer is 'forced to comply', rather than complying to regulations on their own desires. Raw to Retail dairies cannot sell anything except for raw milk, without further licensing.
The producer may milk and sell raw milk from as many animals as he/she wants