Desert Farms brand camel milk is sold in Whole Foods and other organic grocers in California and by mail-order through his website, retailing for $18 per pint online. But that's not the problem.
Photo via Flickr user Taylor Bennett
If you're a California twentysomething with a couple of bills burning a hole in the pocket of your artisanal selvedge jeans, you're either saving it for the vinyl release of Run the Jewels 3 or you're swinging by Whole Foods to pick up two pints of camel's milk. Raw camel milk has become "a thing" among the cutting-edge health-conscious—thanks to the efforts of another California-based twentysomething—and has been credited with improving conditions ranging from autism to Crohn's disease. But the decidedly less trendy FDA is telling the head of a camel milk distribution network (also "a thing," apparently) to knock it off with those unsubstantiated claims.
First, some backstory. When Walid Abdul-Wahab was a student at USC, he started investigating camel's milk as part of a class project. Within a few months, the now-25-year-old had found enough interested farmers to develop his network of camel's milk, which he launched under the name Desert Farms. (Interesting side note: Most of the farms he works with are Amish, and, according to The Atlantic, they keep camels around for their annual Christmas nativity scenes).
Wahab started selling Desert Farms-brand camel milk in Whole Foods and other organic grocers in California (of course) and by mail-order through his website. (That's not the problem.) It's expensive AF, retailing for $18 per pint on his site. (That's not the problem either.)
What the FDA takes issue with are Desert Farms' claims that it could help treat—or even cure—any diseases or conditions. And, according to a warning letter from the agency, Desert Farms has been making all kinds of those claims, to the point where the FDA is officially reminding Wahab that camel's milk cannot be used or promoted as being a drug.
"The therapeutic claims on your website and Facebook page establish that these products are drugs because they are intended for use in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease," the FDA wrote. "As explained further below, introducing or delivering these products for introduction into interstate commerce for such uses violates the [Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act]."
The FDA has threatened to seize Wahab's camel milk stash or to seek an injunction against him if he doesn't comply and remove those claims from his website and Facebook page. Wahab seems to have done as they asked. Clicking the Science & Research section of the website—which had several problematic claims—now results in an error page that reads "FDA asked us to remove this page...No Joke!"
MUNCHIES has reached out to Desert Farms for comment but has not yet received a response.
Looks like a camel-milk milkshake is about as much of a miracle cure as a listening session of Run the Jewels 3.