By MATEUSZ PERKOWSKI
A California dairy is suing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for allegedly ignoring its request to change a federal ban on interstate raw milk shipments.
The Organic Pastures Dairy Co. of Fresno, Calif., has filed a legal complaint claiming the agency hasn't responded to its petition for the past four years, violating administrative law.
In late 2008, the company asked the FDA to create an exemption from the ban on interstate commerce in raw milk that would allow dairies to ship the product between states where it's legally sold, such as California and Arizona.
The complaint alleges that FDA missed a 180-day deadline to respond to the petition that was required by federal law and has since put off the issue by saying that it has limited resources but was developing a reply.
Organic Pastures Dairy claims it now has "no other remedy" than to ask a federal court to force the agency to take action on the petition.
Capital Press was unable to reach a spokesperson for the agency as of press time.
The dairy has had a contentious relationship with the FDA for several years.
Its owner, Mark McAfee, was indicted on criminal charges of shipping raw milk across state lines in 2008, but those charges were later dropped after he agreed to discontinue the practice.
The FDA won an injunction in 2010 permanently barring Organic Pastures from shipping raw milk in interstate commerce.
This year, the California Department of Food and Agriculture has twice ordered recalls of the company's raw milk after detecting campylobacter bacteria in the product.
The microbe, which causes gastrointestinal illness and may lead to paralysis in rare cases, sickened at least 10 people who had consumed raw milk from Organic Pastures Dairy earlier this year, according to CDFA.