PITTSFIELD — A local farmer is seeking to change state law after learning her popular goat’s milk ice cream is technically illegal.
The Little Red Hen Farm and Homestead in Pittsfield was forced to stop selling the ice cream after an inspection this month. Last updated in 2012, the law allows dairy distributors without a milk producer-distributor license to produce less than 20 gallons of daily sales for raw milk, yogurt, cream, butter or kefir.
The law, created to protect the public from potential food safety risks, does not mention ice cream.
Little Red Hen Farm and Homestead Owner Jill Fudala doesn’t understand why ice cream is not allowed under the law, while yogurt is. The two have a similar production process, she said.
Following the inspection, Fudala went on Facebook to share the news with her regular customers who have purchased goat’s milk products at her roadside farm stand since she introduced the products last year.
“People came by our farm stand and asked, ‘Where the heck is the ice cream?’ ” she said. “It seems crazy because it is just ice cream.”
Since then, she’s received many supportive comments, including several from state legislators. Some of those legislators have offered to take up the law when the House comes back into session in September, Fudala said.
The goal would be to strike a balance between public health and helping small farmers gain access to more consumers, according to Fudala. Many farmers are unable to spend the thousands needed to meet the legal thresholds of pasteurization under state law, she said.
In the meantime, Fudala will have to go without sales of her $3 flavored ice creams, which she said have helped defray costs to care for the goats on the farm.
Suzi Israel, an attorney with the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, said she has lost track of how many similar cases she has seen over the past two years.Laws with good intentions sometimes have unintended consequences, she said.
“It’s frequent enough to see a pattern; sadly this is not a unique occurrence,” she said.
Although Fudala’s ice cream is not currently for sale, other products are still available at her farm, which is on Norris Road near the intersection of Leavitt Road and Route 28.