Protest planned over raw food raid at Venice health food store
People angry about the raid on a Venice health food store and its raw dairy products plan to march in front of City Hall on Thursday.
The protest comes one day after the owner of Rawesome Foods and two other people were arrested on charges related to the allegedly unlawful production and sale of unpasteurized dairy products.
It is the latest in a government crackdown on the sale of dairy products that do not meet health standards because they are unpasteurized or produced at unlicensed facilities.
Rawesome owner James Cecil Stewart was arrested, along with Sharon Ann Palmer and Eugenie Bloch.
Palmer, 51, has operated Healthy Family Farms in Santa Paula since 2007 without the required licensing for milk production, prosecutors allege. She and her company face nine charges related to the production of unpasteurized milk products.
Bloch, a Healthy Family Farms employee, is charged with three counts of conspiracy.
The arrests followed a one-year investigation during which undercover agents purchased unpasteurized dairy products from Healthy Family Farms stands in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, said Matthew Krasnowski, a district attorney spokesman. The products included unpasteurized goat milk, cheese and yogurt.
In June 2010 investigators raided the Venice grocery store, seizing stacks of unmarked jugs of raw milk, cartons of raw goat and cow milk, and blocks of unpasteurized goat cheese, among other grocery items. Regulators alleged that Rawesome broke the law by failing to have the proper permits to sell food to the public.
-- Stuart Pfeifer and P.J. Huffstutter
Photo: Federal, state and local authorities carry out products from Rawesome Foods during a raid on the natural food facility in Venice on Wednesday. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times