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Gun-toting investigators raid Venice raw foods grocery

Investigators recently entered an organic grocery with a search warrant and ordered the hemp-clad workers to put down their buckets of mashed coconut cream and to step away from the nuts.

Then, guns drawn, four officers fanned out across Rawesome Foods in Venice. Skirting past the arugula and peering under crates of zucchini, they found the raid's target inside a walk-in refrigerator: unmarked jugs of raw milk.

"I still can't believe they took our yogurt," said Rawesome volunteer Sea J. Jones, a few days after the raid. "There's a medical marijuana shop a couple miles away, and they're raiding us because we're selling raw dairy products?"

Cartons of raw goat and cow milk and blocks of unpasteurized goat cheese were among the groceries seized in the June 30 raid by federal, state and local authorities — the latest salvo in the heated food fight over what people can put in their mouths.

Read the full story on raw food here.

-- P.J. Huffstutter 

Photo: Ebrahim Rafatjah stands in the walk-in cooler full of unpasteurized dairy products. On the other side are Ziploc bags of raw chicken, beef and pork, many without expiration dates. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (29)

It would seem to me that if the products are clearly marked "raw, unpasteurized" that the purchaser should have the right to make the choice. Perhaps a "release of liability" signature on a sales slip?

Gosh, he must have voted Republican-why else would they target him?

Ironically, these victims of the jackbooted thugs almost certainly voted Democrat. I guess they only like nanny-state's control over people's lives when it comes to every other issue.

What's worse...too many cops or, too many robbers???

Cut taxes, cut the number of cops!!!

I can see the concern for public safety. For all we know, the cheese could have been made in some immigrant's bathtub and be contaminated with TB and god knows what else.

Lame headline, very dramatic but not informative. Were the reporters there to see them with "guns drawn," fanning out, etc.? Who were the gun-toting people? MI-6? Marines? Navy Seals? The tone of this is suspect.

This is all about the US government protecting big business. EVERYONE needs to rent, buy or otherwise watch the dvd "Food INC" which offers a degree of explanation regarding idiotic actions like this one. Certainly not fair and definitely pathetic that they feel the need to threaten and intimidate by flashing guns around. That's just how fearful the FDA is when the profit margin for big business is threatened. The FDA does not protect the consumer, it protects big business.

They keep allowing tobacco companies to sell deadly killer cigarettes to millions of people but they spend our tax dollars shutting down the local health food stores and markets. They ( govt) doesn't give a R@ ts @ ss about any of us they only cater to the ones lining their pockets. The big tobacco lobbyists, the big food/ chemical lobbyists and big pharma lobbyists, and anyone else who writes the check to put the little guys out of business and they especially dislike anyone who takes control of their own health.

This is what some call "nanny state." Generally the term is only used to denote activities that affect you or someone you know, in the same vein as "activist judge" applies only to a judge who rules contrary to your strongly held opinion.

It seems in this case, the government action was more about the licensure of the shop than about restricting all sales of raw milk products. If the shop failed to get the proper licenses, then the raid was proper (not the guns raised though).

I do hope this raid prompts constructive debates on the rights of individuals versus protecting society and how we can best balance each. It is not just the right to buy and consume raw food that is involved but many other things. And I do not mean things like the right to drive while holding a cell phone because that activity endangers others on the road around you. Regulations are often the invention of larger businesses to lock out competition, or at least make the cost of entry prohibitively high. Big dairies should not be able to influence either the regulations or their enforcement because of the obvious self-dealing.

People should have a right to buy raw, unprocessed products with full and unambiguous disclosure. That should likely require that 1) the buyer understand they are purchasing raw, unprocessed product (CLEAR LABELING); 2) there are well-documented dangers to eating such products; 3) they are purchasing for their own personal consumption and the consumption of their families; and 4) waive all liabilities of the sellers and assume all liabilities if they serve to someone other than their family members. And the state can supply the material to be provided to the purchaser. The legislature may need to weigh in to relax food safety laws and allow such exculpatory clause and the waiver of retailer liability to third parties. That liability is likely what prompted Whole Paycheck from withdrawing most raw food products.

On another note, licensing remains important. It makes sure that such businesses are identified, inspected, and held more accountable with regard to general food safety regulations. The owners should have made sure they held the proper licenses to sell such products.

1. There is a video of the police coming in with guns drawn. The reporter isn't making it up. Here's the L.A. Times page with it: http://www.latimes.com/videobeta/1c5589da-c8cc-462b-b6d1-ad08fc330171/News/Raid-on-private-food-club

2. This incident is the last straw. I think it's time to register Libertarian. Have we learned nothing from Prohibition? Has it really gone so far that we won't allow adults to drink raw milk? In New York, a legislator actually introduced a bill to prevent restaurant chefs from using salt when cooking.

ridiculously overwrought police response. this is the kind of reason why the grim sleeper remained uncaught for so long. the people have become the enemy.

This is typical of the NAZI FDA, it is only one of long list of crimes by this corrupt agency. They do nothing about Genetically Mofified Foods (GMF), but attack non-toxic foods. They GMF which is an untested technology to flourish at the expense of the health of Americans. They do not allow labeling, and have come up with 1984 double speak, which basically says that if it looks like an egg it must be egg even though it is injected with a toxic gene from an unrelated species. Just look at the proliferation of childhood diseases since the introduction of GMF. They allowed and promoted milk from cows injected with bovine growth hormone, but attack raw milk. What is even scarier is that Obama's recent appointments to the FDA and USDA are all flag wavers for GMF with ties to Monsanto. I have written Feinstein, Boxer, Waxman and the FDA, and asked a simple question why as an American citizen I am denied the right to know what I am ingesting? this is due to the fact that the FDA does not require labeling of GMF

Anyone really interested should check out the history of pasteurization, and fact that there was a contemporary of Pasteur that was opposed to his theories. Pasteur was a charlatan and a plagarist, and admitted so on his deathbed.

Seems like the members have been supporting a for profit business for many years fully aware and educated about their choices. They are not harming the public in any way and are probably a heck of a lot more educated about nutrition than the majority of our population. In fact, the raid at gunpoint by multiple federal and state agencies was not even induced by a member complaint but by some paperwork technicality! Really?
Perhaps our government officials could better spend their time and our tax dollars with real crime and real issues that actually effect the public at large rather than continue being stooges for the corporate puppet masters......? Heck, directing traffic would be more productive than raiding a successful for-profit business.
Then again, what can we expect when the "government" is actually a revolving door between the largest corporations and the executive suite of the USDA, FDA, etc.
If one does not agree with a private, for profit business that does not effect the public in any way, then guess what - you do not have to do anything and simply continue with your regular shopping preferences.

It's almost as disgusting as sushi -- except, mammalian products are closer to human than are fish; so, the chance of disease is greater for the milk and cheese than for fish or invertebrates.

I have only two words for this pack of Nazi "Gun-toting Investigators": Seig Heil... uh I think it's properly repeated three times: Seig Heil, Seig Heil, Seig Heil!

So.....they only took the stuff that didn't really belong to you in the first place anyway. Cow and goat milk is for baby cows and goats, not for humans, baby OR adult.

That said, I completely disagree with the actions of the police.

"There's a medical marijuana shop a couple miles away, and they're raiding us because we're selling raw dairy products?"

This is because raw food can cause serious illness & in some cases death. Cannabis is will not. Using cannabis while driving can cause death, but not ingesting it. Control, Tax & Regulate Cannabis. Let's keep the raw food store fronts regulated too.

It sounds like "Fearless Fosdick and the poisoned bean case" . Al Capp had a real handle on this kind of event. His comic book hero went around shooting people in the head so that they wouldn't eat a can of poisoned beans and die. Give me a break!

The owners and patrons of this organic store are probably in favor of gov. restrictions on foods and food outlets which they believe to be injurious. But when their foods are the target of gov. restriction -- they don't like it--seem suprized--. The point is once you let the gov. decide what you may put in your mouth NO ONE is exempt. Think about it.

That infuriates me!!!

no doubt the liberal hippes running this store voted democratic. welcome to the form of government that you love!

God bless America... land of the free?

Welcome to the police state.

This is about the trend in law enforcement to hire uneducated, egomaniacal, gun happy cops. You can thank the Reagan administration and the Bushes who followed him for this. Cops bursting into people's homes and businesses with guns drawn over non-threatening activities is a product of their elitist policies. Anyone who isn't a Republican conservative Christian is in danger of being victimized by law enforcement in this country.

Well all I can say is America has gone mad. I know people who are leaving the states because of such silly restrictions on food. I am just glad I don't live there and hope that this mentality is not catching because if our government tried doing something like this there would be an all out war.

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