No More Raw Milk at Florida Whole Foods, the Company Explains Their Decision, Kind Of
Whole Foods Market has officially dropped raw milk from its shelves in Florida.
Raw Milk is milk that has not been pasteurized or homogenized.
Pasteurization is a heating process meant to kill bacteria, and homogenization is the process of making the milk one consistency throughout. The fat of non homogenized milk collects as cream like head on beer.
Some people swear by the alleged health benefits of raw milk, a problematic sentiment for Floridians. It is illegal to sell raw milk for human consumption in the sunshine state.
Until yesterday Whole Foods market sold raw milk with a pet food label. Human drinkers bought it for their personal consumption.
They think Whole Foods should continue to sell the product. Here is the company's response to them, and our questions, via their regional marketing director for Florida, Russ Benblatt.
Benblatt: This was a decision that was made here at the regional level. I can't get into too many details, but it was purely a business decision to stop selling the raw milk, and I cant get into the specifics of it.
We've been referring our customers to realmilk.com which essentially is a site that catalogs raw milk sources across the country.
New Times: Is the company aware of the petition circulating for Whole Foods in Florida to continue selling raw milk?
Benblatt: Actually, I'm holding the petition in my hand. It has 1,400 signatures, but only 365 are from within the state of Florida.
Unfortunately, what they're petitioning us to do is illegal. In the state of Florida raw milk is not to be sold for human consumption.
We made a decision to stop selling it as a pet food. We've never sold it for human consumption.
We sold it as a pet food. I can't say what folks did with it, and we don't ask folks what they're going do with products when they leave our store. We just assumed they were buying it for pet food.
NT: Do any Whole Foods in the chain sell raw milk?
Benblatt: I know we do have regions in the company where they do...they're in states that allow the sale of raw milk for human consumption.
NT: Have Big Milk contacted the company at all?
Benblatt: What? Who?
NT: Big Milk, it's like Big Oil....
Benblatt: Hahaha. I've never heard that before. No, they have not been in touch with us.
NT: What were the Florida sales numbers like on raw milk?
Benblatt: We don't release specific sales numbers.
NT: Would the company consider bringing raw milk back based on overwhelming customer demand?
Benblatt: We change our product mix all the time, most of our products are based on customer demand, but I can't really say one way or the other....
NT: Is there any raw milk left on any of the shelves anywhere in the state?
Benblatt: We ran our inventory down. We stopped selling as of yesterday. We bought from Golden Fleece Dairy, a local dairy here in Florida, in rather small shipments. It's not like we had huge stocks or inventories of it.
NT: Was there any political motivation to stopping the sale of raw milk?
Benblatt: We're a grocery store we try not to get involved in politics.
NT: Are you offering any alternatives?
Benblatt: We sell all types of milk from local dairies, private labels, cow milk, goat milk... We're also gonna be selling pasteurized, non-homogenized milk. That's the cream on top, old fashioned milk. We're making sure it's in all our stores as an alternative.
NT: Is it labeled for pets?
NT: You're bringing in non-homogenized milk for human consumption as an alternative to pet milk?
Benblatt: We're bringing in this separated milk as an alternative to pet milk. This milk is legal to sell for human consumption.
It's an alternative for pets, but it's a traditional homogenized milk.
I'd like to believe that if people are passionate about raw milk for their pets than they'll also realize that non-homogenized milk is good for their pet.
We can't do anything about the laws in the state of Florida.
NT: So Whole Foods isn't involved in any lobbying or political action committees?
Benblatt: If we're involved in politics then I'm not aware of it. We're not involved in any lobbying or political action committees in the state of Florida.