British Columbia

B.C. raw milk co-op loses latest court challenge

The Fraser Health Authority has won the latest legal skirmish in an attempt to prevent the distribution of raw milk for human consumption in the Chilliwack, B.C., area.

The B.C. Supreme Court has reaffirmed the Fraser Health Authority's ability to enforce an injunction against a raw milk farm near Chilliwack.

The health authority alleges an inspection in August proved that milk was still being distributed, despite a ban.

Raw milk enthusiasts had formed a co-operative with farmers in an alleged attempt to circumvent the ban, because B.C. law allows farmers to drink raw milk from their own cows.

Co-op members are fighting the ban, arguing that health officials are over-stepping their authority, says member Gordon Watson.

"It's not about milk at all," said Watson. "It's about whether people have the right to use and enjoy their own property. It's a rights issue. It's a property rights issue."

Watson said that as many as 500 local households are getting their milk from the co-op.

"The powers that be don't like it that we didn’t come to them, hat in hand, and ask for permission. We just used our property," he said.

The court sided with the health authority Tuesday, which means it now can post the injunction order on the farm and inspect the premises.

Health officials maintain drinking raw milk is a serious public health risk because it is often contaminated with bacteria.

The original case will be back in court in April.