Tainted Raw Milk Likely Cause of Campylobacteriosis OutbreakSep 15, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP
Recently, individuals who consumed raw milk purchased from the Hendricks Farm & Dairy in Franconia, Pennsylvania, were found to have campylobacteriosis, a gastrointestinal illness caused by Campylobacter. Campylobacteriosis can cause diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever within two to five days of exposure; diarrhea may be bloody and accompanied with nausea and vomiting.
Campylobacteriosis typically lasts about one week, but in some with compromised immune systems, Campylobacter can spread to the bloodstream and cause serious life-threatening infection. Campylobacter can be found in raw or undercooked fruits, vegetables, poultry, and meat; in unprocessed water; and in unpasteurized dairy products and can be contracted through direct contact with animals, including poultry, cattle, dogs, cats, rodents, and birds.
According to the state's departments of health and agriculture, since September 1, there have been a total of seven confirmed cases of Campylobacter infection reported among raw milk drinkers in seven unrelated households in Pennsylvania, as well as in a neighboring state. Other individuals in these households have experienced similar gastrointestinal illness. Also, Montgomery County Health Department reports it is investigating two cases of residents diagnosed with Campylobacteriosis that are part of an outbreak occurring throughout the state.
People who purchased raw milk from Hendricks Farm are advised to discard it and any items made with it. The state Department of Agriculture suspended the farm's raw milk permit and instructed the owner to stop selling raw milk for human consumption until the permit is reinstated. "HF&D is very concerned by the health issues some families have suffered from recently," the company said in a statement on its Website this weekend. "We are willingly complying with the Commonwealth's recommended temporary discontinuation of fluid raw milk sales."
Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized and food safety officials say it has sickened hundreds with Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria, Campylobacter, and other harmful and potentially fatal bacteria. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), raw milk or raw milk products were implicated in 45 outbreaks that resulted in over 1,000 illnesses and two deaths in the United States during 1998-2005. In 1938, milk was the cause of 25 percent of all food- and water-related sickness. With the introduction of universal pasteurization—long considered one of the most successful public health endeavors of the last century—that number fell to one percent by 1993. A growing number of dairy owners sell raw milk—some illegally—and some people believe raw milk contains organisms that treat all manner of maladies, including digestive problems, asthma, and autism, saying raw milk offers greater benefits because it allegedly does not contain chemicals and hormones. This growing contingent says the
heat necessary for pasteurization kills healthy natural proteins and enzymes. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) disagrees and insists pasteurization destroys harmful bacteria without significantly changing milk's nutritional value. It is illegal to sell raw milk for human consumption in 22 states. The other states allow raw milk sales within their borders; the FDA bans sales across state lines.