Chilliwack, Abbotsford dairy farms face lawsuit over tainted milk

Montreal-based dairy giant Saputo files claim against BC Milk Marketing Board, Chilliwack Cattle Sales and Cedarwal Farms

Chilliwack Cattle Sales rotary milking parlour during a Chilliwack Agricultural Tour in 2014. The farm is the largest dairy farm in Canada.

Chilliwack Cattle Sales rotary milking parlour during a Chilliwack Agricultural Tour in 2014. The farm is the largest dairy farm in Canada.

A Chilliwack dairy farm, an Abbotsford dairy farm and the BC Milk Marketing Board face a lawsuit from dairy-producing giant Saputo over tainted milk shipments.

The lawsuit filed in BC Supreme Court in early February names the milk marketing board (the Board), Chilliwack Cattle Sales and Cedarwal Farms.

In the notice of civil claim, Saputo states that on Aug. 12, 2013, the Board provided 17,784 litres of raw milk to Saputo’s Burnaby plant. This milk was found to contain excess bacteria found to be caused by a breach of health regulations by the producer.

Before the company found out about the contaminated milk, it had been blended, which affected 223,240 litres of milk and 111,921 litres of packaged product.

This contaminated milk, found to have come from Chilliwack Cattle Sales, caused damages of $65,317.57, according to the claim.

Then between Feb. 4 and 20, 2015, 120,029 litres of organic milk was shipped to Saputo’s Burnaby and Abbotsford plant. This suspect milk was again co-mingled with milk in silos.

On or about Feb. 20, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) advised Saputo it was conducting a safety inspection to determine if the suspect milk was produced from cows whose feed was contaminated by aflatoxin, a potential human carcinogen produced by moulds.

Saputo claims the Board was aware of the situation prior to Feb. 20, but did not notify the company.

“If the Board had done so, Saputo could have rejected the suspect milk and averted the related loss,” according to the claim.

The CFIA later determined the organic milk not to be unsafe, but by the time Saputo was told this, much of the product was unusable.

This milk originated, according to the claim, at Cedar Valley Farms in Abbotsford. Cedar Valley is owned by Cedarwal.

Saputo deducted the $65,317.57 from the Chilliwack milk and $26,303.64 from the Abbotsford milk from payments to the Board. The company’s civil claim asks either for the Board to declare the company was allowed to make those deductions, or that Saputo be paid damages in those amounts against the Board, Chilliwack Cattle Sales and Cedarwal.

Saputo’s lawyers states that the Board is “a monopolistic distributor of milk on behalf of all producers” in B.C. and this arrangement “deprives Saputo of having any choice with respect to the Producers from whom they buy.”

The Board has not yet filed a response to the civil claim.

This isn’t the first time Saputo has come up against Chilliwack Cattle Sales. In 2014, and in response to a 100,000-plus name online petition asking Montreal-based Saputo to “adopt meaningful animal welfare policies for its dairy suppliers,” the company responded.

The petition came after a Mercy For Animals video emerged showing abuse of cattle at the Chilliwack dairy farm.

“Since Saputo learned of the animal abuse at the farm in British Columbia from which horrific images of cattle mistreatment were captured, the company has used its position as Canada’s largest milk processor to ensure the situation is being addressed and that such reprehensible behaviour . . . does not occur in the future,” Saputo said in a statement in June 2014.

Chilliwack Cattle Sales responded with an open invitation to Saputo to view the farm and the level of care.

“This is a family farm started in the 1950s and we care deeply for our animals,” co-owner Jeff Kooyman said in a statement. “We would love the opportunity to show this to Saputo and what measures have been put in place to ensure animal welfare.”

The cattle abuse did lead to charges and in December the company and one director were handed a total of $300,000 in fines after pleading guilty to animal cruelty.

“We deeply regret what has happened and we promise this will never happen again,” Kenneth Kooyman told the court.

The young men seen abusing cattle in the videos are still before the courts.

A number of the employees involved in the alleged abuse are set to go to trial in April 2017, with yet others scheduled to make a guilty plea that month.

paul.henderson@theprogress.com

@PeeJayAitch

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A mallard duck swims through Salish Pond in Chilliwack on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
WEATHER: Snow, rain in forecast for Fraser Valley

Fraser Valley has been treated to more than a week of mostly sunny weather, but it’s about to end

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

sd
VIDEO: Mission drag racer scores 1st career win, sets world record, makes history in 2020

Justin Bond, founder and owner of JBS Equipment, hits milestones in break-out year

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near Chilliwack secondary

Third high-school related assault Rob Iezzi’s cameras have captured since beginning of 2021

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

Giants defenceman Bowen Byram has recorded his first NHL career point (Rob Wilton/special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Vancouver Giants Bowen Byram records first NHL career point with Colorado Avalanche

Player with Langley-based WHL franchise assisted on goal against the Ducks

Surrey Fire Service responded to a fire in the industrial area of 192nd street and 54th Avenue early Saturday morning (Jan. 23, 2021). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Surrey crews respond to fire in industrial area

Fire happened early Saturday morning

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Most Read