State searches second farm in raw dairy products case
by Mark Steil, Minnesota Public Radio
June 26, 2010
Worthington, Minn. — It appears the state's investigation of raw milk has grown into a broader crackdown on sales of unpasteurized milk products.
The Minnesota Agriculture Department has searched a second farm that has allegedly sold raw milk. The investigations began after E. coli traced to unpasteurized products sickened eight people. The southern Minnesota farm blamed for the E. coli outbreak has been searched twice.
A search warrant dated June 21 says state investigators believed a crime had been committed on the Schlangen Family Farm near Freeport in central Minnesota.
At least two state investigators and two county sheriff's deputies went to the farm. Agriculture Department spokesman Michael Schommer said they were looking for evidence that the Schlangen's were making illegal food sales.
"The investigation is looking into alleged unlawful sale of farm products, potentially including raw milk and adulterated or misbranded food," Schommer said.
The investigators took milk and other samples from the farm. They also seized the farm's management records.
The search warrant says the evidence that the Schlangen's were illegally selling raw milk turned up during a June 15 inspection of the Traditional Foods Minnesota Warehouse in south Minneapolis.
Ag department tests of Schlangen milk being held for sale at the warehouse showed the product was unpasteurized. In addition to the raw milk, the search warrant alleges the Schlangen's illegally sold produce, including fruit, without a license.
The state also says the farm sold meat unlawfully. The search warrant affidavit includes photos of people apparently in line to buy products from a van with signs identifying the Shlangen farm posted in front of the vehicle.
The owner of the farm, Alvin Schlangen, says the main business of his farm is producing and selling eggs. He refused to do a recorded interview, but did respond by email to MPR's questions.
Schlangen says during the search the state embargoed most of the food inventory on the farm. He says investigators seized his computerized management records.
When asked if he sells unpasteurized milk, Schlangen's replied, 'we have acted as an agent' for that product. He goes on to say he recommends unpasteurized milk over what he calls manufactured milk.
Schlangen says he's doing fine in the wake of the search, but describes his wife as 'a wreck.'
There's been one other development in the unpasteurized milk issue. A raw milk producer near Ogilvie, 50 miles north of the Twin Cities, says he's going out of business. A message posted on the Kalisch Farm website says 'thanks for your emails, concerns and friendship'.