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Alta-Dena to Honor Founders With New Label on Some Dairy Products

September 26, 1985|DANIEL P. PUZO | Times Staff Writer

A label change intended to honor the founding family of Alta-Dena Certified Dairies may result in a much lower media profile for one of the most controversial brand names in California's food industry.

At the City of Industry dairy's 40th anniversary celebration, the company formally announced that it was changing the brand name on all its certified raw milk and raw milk products to Stueve's Natural. The switch is meant to honor co-founders Ed and Harold Stueve, along with more than 70 other Stueve family members and in-laws currently employed.

The move means that the well-known Alta-Dena Dairies brand name will appear only on the company's pasteurized products, which constitute most of the firm's 100,000-gallon daily production. Just as significantly, Alta-Dena Certified Raw Milk, which has been discussed in countless news stories for the past 20 years because of various health disputes, has been retired.

The dairy's raw milk gained notoriety over the years because it has been the target of numerous state-ordered recalls triggered by laboratory tests which discovered the presence of harmful bacteria, particularly salmonella, more than 200 times since 1974.

Dairy representatives have maintained that their raw milk products have never been the source of any illnesses and that they are singled out for harassment by the state health officials.

Stueve's Natural eventually will become a separate corporate entity from Alta-Dena Dairies in order to handle the five products which will constitute the new line: raw milk, raw butter, raw cream, raw kefir and raw cottage cheese. The daily production will total about 15,000 gallons.

A dairy spokesman said the name change was not related to previous problems.

"The (name change) has been in the mill for three years," said Harold Stueve, the dairy's managing partner. "My son-in-law (Boyd Clark) wanted to put the certified raw milk products under the Stueve's Natural label. He wanted to see our family name on the best milk in the world. . . . We're proud of our raw milk."

Getting the Lead Out--Research that indicated canned foods were a major source of human lead intake several years ago prompted the federal government to urge processed food manufacturers to reduce levels of the highly toxic metal in cans.

The source of the problem was lead-soldered seams in some cans. The metal in the seams was found to leach into the food.

The effort to reduce lead's presence in canned food has met with some success. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently announced that lead levels in cans have been reduced significantly. The agency's Center for Food Safety and the National Food Processor Assn. surveyed lead-soldered cans and reported that lead levels are about 50% lower than four years ago.

"The level today is 0.12 parts per million compared to levels of 0.31 parts per million four years ago. . . . (The) data also show that lead levels in nonlead soldered cans average about one-fifth those in soldered cans," according to a report of the study in FDA Consumer magazine.

Children are particularly sensitive to lead, and any amount ingested can be dangerous. Several studies have linked lead levels in children to brain damage, nonadaptive behavior and disruption of the central nervous system.

Getting Cotton In--Food technology is becoming so sophisticated that it seems there are more foods being created in a laboratory than in a test kitchen. News that the state's farmers are finding a sizable market in Japan for glandless cottonseed underlines this continuing development.

The cottonseed is in demand because Japanese researchers are using the unusual ingredient in food products. The work centers on the creation of a cottonseed ice cream, a chocolate and natto , a traditional Japanese food, according to California Farmer magazine.

Current shipments of about 20 tons of cottonseed are expected to increase to about 100 tons in the coming months.

The research on using cottonseed in food has been ongoing since 1972. Los Angeles-area consumers had an opportunity to consume just such a product several years ago when Trader Joe's markets carried an item called 100% American Nut Butter. The so-called nut butter was made from "glandless cotton nut kernels and peanut oil" and appeared during a time when a shortage of real peanuts dramatically increased peanut butter prices.

Guacamole Takes a Holiday--The Fresh Produce Council of Los Angeles predicts that in the coming weeks consumers will be faced with the highest avocado prices in history. This expected increase is a result of a drastically reduced California crop, coupled with record national demand.

Florida avocados will help soften the supply situation until this state's Fuerte, or green-skinned, avocados begin arriving in markets sometime in early November, according to the council's newsletter.

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