The South Dakota Department of Agriculture unnecessarily shut down Brookings-area dairy Jerseydale Farms two weeks ago. The Department of Agriculture still hasn't apologized. Read their terse little oopsie, which studiously avoids saying oopsie:
The South Dakota Department of Agriculture announces Jerseydale Farms of Brookings, South Dakota, has resumed distribution of bottled raw milk.
Jerseydale Farms’ permit was suspended on Jan. 21, 2014, due to a positive test for Listeria from a sample of bottled raw milk. A follow-up sample was collected; this second sample tested negative for Listeria.
Further testing of the original sample determined the species to be Listeria innocua. This species of Listeria is generally not considered pathogenic bacteria [South Dakota Department of Agriculture, press release, 2014.02.03].
Good grief: I issue bigger apologies when I spell stuff wrong.
Analyze the press release from a journalistic perspective, and you see our ag officials pressing their attack on small dairies and burying their own error. The first and second paragraphs maintain the impression that Jerseydale Farms did something wrong. THe third paragraph avoids saying the Department did anything wrong. It throws in "generally," a weasel word that leaves the door open for the possibility that Jerseydale Farms' original sample might have been dangerous.
"Generally" is not the word Professor Russ Daly from SDSU uses:
But scientists told the Capital Journal the Listeria species found in the Jerseydale Farms milk, Listeria innocua, is not the strain that poses health threats. “If you look at everything that has been published on Listera innocua, it is not a significant pathogen at all,” said Russ Daly, a state public health veterinarian at South Dakota State University. Daly said a different strain, Listeria monocytogenes, is responsible for “99.9 percent of Listeria infections” in humans [Joel Ebert, "Listeria Hysteria?," Pierre Capital Journal, 2014.02.04].
The Department of Agriculture whimpers back that they had to report the Listeria finding, even though the lab hadn't finished its analysis of the sample. The Department felt that taking precautions for public safety was more important than waiting for the final scientific verdict.
Not waiting for the absolutely final scientific verdict to take action? Imagine if South Dakota officials took that approach to climate change: the state would be banning Keystone XL and subsidizing wind turbines for every town!
The state has unduly harmed a business through improper enforcement of onerous regulation. The state at least owes that business Jerseydale Farms, an apology.