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More Milk Recalls for Listeria in Pennsylvania

Apr 8, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

Consumers who bought raw milk from Piney Ridge dairy farm in New Bethlehem, Clarion County, and Clark and Elaine Duncan's farm in Meadville, Crawford County, after March 10 should discard the raw milk immediately due to the risk of Listeria monocytogenes contamination, according to Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff.

Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized or homogenized and Pennsylvania farms selling raw milk must be permitted and inspected to reduce health risks associated with such products.  Another case of Listeria monocytogenes was found at Piney Ridge dairy last year.  "During routine testing, samples taken at the dairies tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes," said Wolff.  "If consumers have raw milk from these farms, they should discard it immediately."  The Department of Agriculture has suspended sales of raw milk at the dairies and is requiring corrective action be taken.  Samples were taken from the farms on March 31 and tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes April 4.  Multiple laboratory samples must test negative before sales can resume.

Listeriosis is a type of food poisoning generated by the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria and is dangerous to the elderly, pregnant women, newborns, and those with chronic medical conditions.  Most people experience only mild flu like symptoms—fever, muscle aches, nausea, or diarrhea.  In serious cases, the disease spreads to the nervous system, causing headaches, stiff neck, and convulsions.  In pregnant women, Listeriosis can result in miscarriage or stillbirth.  Listeria lives in soil and water and can easily contaminate dairy and beef products; because listeria thrives in cold, milk is an ideal environment.

Last month the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a new draft compliance policy for control of Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) in ready-to-eat foods.  This is a groundbreaking policy in that this is the first time different policies have been created for foods that do and do not support growth of the toxic organism.  For foods that do not support the growth of the listeria bacteria, the FDA will revise its tolerance level; the “zero tolerance” standard for ready-to-eat foods that do support the growth of the bacteria will not change.

In recent months, listeria has been the focus of a number of outbreaks, including three cases in North Carolina linked to soft cheeses and an outbreak at Massachusetts’ Whittier Farms dairy where four people died and more were sickened from consuming products produced at the dairy.  In January, in Olympia, Washington, the Ca Rem #1 Ice Cream, SeaTac voluntarily recalled its coconut-flavored popsicles when routine sampling and analysis revealed the presence of Listeria.  In February, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) alerted the public to avoid consuming smoked pork and beef bratwurst produced by J&B Meats, of Barnesville, Minnesota when a routine sampling revealed listeria contamination.  In March, Meijer Inc. of Grand Rapids, Michigan, pulled 2,184 pounds of frozen entrees after the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) testing showed the food could be tainted with listeria.  Most recently, Stop and Shop recalled four types of prepared chicken due to possible listeria contamination.


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