Uptown Locavore shut down over raw milk, beef concerns

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A Minneapolis business in Uptown, which prides itself on the quality of its poultry and dairy, has been temporarily shut down by the city's health department.

For the last 10 years, Will Winter has run Uptown Locavore, what he calls an indoor farmer's market where the farmer doesn't have to present.  Now, his freezers and refrigerators are sealed and he's unable to open them after a visit from city health inspectors.

“I feel abused and I feel violated and I'm losing money,” said Winter.

Last week, the Minneapolis Health Department served a search warrant at Uptown Locavore over concerns it is distributing raw or unpasteurized milk and un-inspected beef. Inspectors say several raw items were lacking proper identification or a complete label and while many were in refrigerators or freezers, other items were stored on a shelf at room temperature. 

“I'm extremely unhappy and I was treated very rudely very unfairly,” said Winter.

Health Commissioner Gretchen Musicant says it is legal to buy raw milk in Minnesota, but it has to be directly from the farmer without a middleman. The health department says Winter doesn't have a license to operate a grocery or food-related business there.

“In 2013, we have 22 people in Minneapolis who got sick from eating cheese made from unpasteurized milk and one of those people was a two-year-old child,” said Musicant.

Winter says he's never made anyone sick and doesn't need a license because he's not a store, he's a private buyers club.

“We've done nothing wrong and we don't intend to do anything wrong,” he said.

The health department says the food is under a health embargo, but depending on what happens with its investigation, it could be returned to the farmers who produced it.