Bacteria-laden milk has shut down one local farm indefinitely and left dairy distributors throughout the region in the lurch.
Bacteria-laden milk has shut down one local farm indefinitely and left dairy distributors throughout the region in the lurch. For the past few years, Bill Sullivan has grown accustomed to waking up on Fridays to bottles of fresh, local milk delivered from Maple Farm Dairy in Mendon. Yesterday was different. A call to the farm reveals the company has suspended delivery of the milk in light of the state's Thursday announcement fingering Whittier Dairy Products, according to a message on the company's answering machine. ``I am as shocked by these news reports as you all are,'' said Brian Gay, owner of Maple Farm Dairy in the message. ``Your deliveries will be affected for about one week. Please throw away all your milk.'' Thus Sullivan's new supply of milk never came. He was instead left contemplating whether he should toss the remaining bottles from last week's delivery, as the state and Gay advises consumers to do. Mark Evans of Milford, whose family also drinks Maple Farm Dairy milk, was less fazed. ``I'm just going to wait it out. We've already been drinking the stuff and we're not dead,'' he reasoned. ``I don't drink it but my family does and they say they can taste the difference. It's good milk.'' Evans' family will apparently have to get used to new milk or change distributors as Gay indicated in his recording he would be lining up another milk source. Gay did not return several phone calls. Meanwhile in Acton, Natalie Delorey, an employee of Idylwilde Farms said yesterday the store will give customers a full refund if they bring the bottle of Whittier milk back. She mentioned her store carries other organic dairy products from area farms. ``I'm really worried it will put them out of business,'' she said. ``It's very difficult to keep a family dairy farm running in Massachusetts and they have been doing it for many years. It really is a shame.'' More than 20 Massachusetts dairy farms closed in 2006, while 625 farms have shut down in the last 25 years. However, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Association of Dairy Farmers Warren Facey said yesterday the industry was ``holding up,'' and thought the listeria incidents, while potentially crippling for Whittier, would not have much of an effect on the state industry as a whole. ``It may hurt them, but I don't believe it will hurt the industry as a whole,'' he said. Delorey was receptive to doing business with Whittier in the future. She was not alone. Linda Wheeler's Balance Rock Farm in Berlin only carries Whittier Farms milk. She, too, plans on continuing to do business with the farm once its dairy resumes operations. ``In the interim we may have to do something to provide milk for our customers, but we are loyal to Whittier and hope they are able to resolve the situation,'' she said. Dan McDonald can be reached at 508 490 7475 or at email@example.com.