Raw Milk in the News
Health officials investigate Salmonella illnesses linked to unpasteurized cheese product
Twelve people sickened after eating queso fresco made in a private home
April 24, 2013
Twelve people have become ill with salmonellosis linked to eating a raw Mexican-style cheese, queso fresco, and state health officials are warning consumers about the risks of consuming unpasteurized dairy products.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and the City of Minneapolis are investigating the outbreak and the source of the raw milk used to make the cheese.
MDH has confirmed 11 cases of infection with the same strain of Salmonella Typhimurium. Eight were hospitalized. Additional illnesses have been reported in family members of the cases, including two hospitalizations.
All have recovered. Many cases reported eating unpasteurized queso fresco purchased or received from an individual who made the product in a private home. Investigators have determined that the individual made home deliveries and also may have sold the product on a street corner near the East Lake Street area of Minneapolis.
Anyone who may have purchased or received this product recently should not eat it but should throw it away.
Health officials said consuming raw dairy products can be dangerous. Raw milk has been found to contain numerous pathogens that can cause serious illness, including Campylobacter, Shiga toxin-producing
Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Listeria, and Yersinia. Pasteurization has been used for almost a century as a way to reduce diseases that were commonly caused by raw milk.
Minnesota law allows consumers to purchase raw milk directly from the farm for their own consumption, but it may not be distributed or sold off the farm. Additionally, cheese production facilities need to follow proper food safety laws and regulations, including licensure.
“While our immediate concern is that there might be additional illnesses associated with consumption of this particular product, we also want to remind people of the inherent risk of consuming any raw dairy product,” said Dr. Carlota Medus, foodborne illness epidemiologist with MDH. “We encourage people to think carefully about those risks before consuming raw dairy products from any source and know that the risks are especially high for young children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.”
Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections, especially in high risk groups. Healthy people infected with Salmonella often experience diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain. Symptoms often begin 12-72 hours after consumption of contaminated food but can begin up to a week or more later. Anyone who believes they may have become ill with Salmonella should contact their health care provider.
Minnesota Department of Health
Minnesota Department of Agriculture
City of Minneapolis Communications
City of Minneapolis
Read original press release: http://www.health.state.mn.us/news/pressrel/2013/salmonella042413.html
Food Safety News
by Dan Flynn
The Montana Alliance for Raw Milk (MTARM) fell just one vote short Thursday, meaning it will remain illegal for anyone in the Big Sky state to sell raw milk for human consumption.
And it was a wild ride.
But instead of mourning the second death of their bill in the Senate, raw milk advocates said the Senate amendments made the bill unworkable for small producers and said they were glad it went down.
House Bill 574, sponsored by state Rep. Champ Edmunds (R-Missoula) went from a lofty 96-to-3 vote in the House last month to failing to achieve the 34 votes it needed in the Senate Tuesday when it garnered only a 29-to-21 favorable vote.
Then on Thursday MTARM rallied to get another final vote on HB 574 through reconsideration. It got the vote, but still fell short of the two-thirds majorioty required with a 32-17 vote. (With 49 voting, 33 “yea” votes were required for a supermajority.)
Continue reading, “Just One Vote Keeps Ban on Raw Milk Sales in Montana” at Food Safety News.
By Mark Binker
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina residents would be able to buy raw, unpasteurized milk under a bill filed by a bipartisan group of lawmakers.
The measure was filed by Reps. Dennis Riddell, R-Alamance, Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford, Edgar Starnes, R-Caldwell, and Jo Sam Queen, D-Haywood. It would allow residents to buy shares in a lactating animal in order to obtain its unpasteurized milk.
Pasteurization is a process through which heat is applied to milk in order to kill bacteria and other contaminants. According to the U.S.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unpasteurized raw milk can spread salmonella, Campylobacter and other diseases. Raw milk can be sold in North Carolina but only for animal feed and only if marked and dyed in order to discourage human consumption.
However, some natural food advocates extol what they see as the health benefits of not subjecting milk to pasteurization. They have pushed for a number of raw milk legalization measures over the past decade, none of which have passed.
To continue reading “Bill filed to allow raw milk sales,” visit WRAL.com.
Food Safety News
By Dan Flynn | March 27, 2013
When it comes to dairy production, Montana is not even among the top 30 states, but it may soon be selling the most dangerous raw milk in America. Only four people in the vast state will be responsible for regulating the raw milk supply there, and there won’t be much in the way of rules.
Missoula Republican Champ Edmunds, who is exploring a run for the U.S. Senate in 2014 against Democrat Max Baucus, has succeeded in getting his “small herd exemption” bill through the Montana House of Representatives on a stunning 96-to-3 vote.
State Rep. Edmunds may be taking a page from Montana’s other U.S. Senator, Democrat Jon Tester, who made advocacy for small farms his hallmark.
As the primary sponsor of House Bill 574, Edmunds may be trumping Tester by creating a “Big Sky” size loophole in Montana’s dairy laws.
Continue reading, “Montana Passes Raw Milk Bill With “Big Sky” Size Loophole” at Food Safety News.
Food Safety News
By Cookson Beacher | March 26, 2013
Always a controversial topic, raw milk has landed smack dab in the middle of a tug-of-war policy disagreement between two major farm groups.
Raw milk is milk that hasn’t been pasteurized to kill harmful, and at times deadly, pathogens such as E. coli, Listeria, Salmonella and Campylobacter.
Pulling on one end of the rope in favor of raw milk and raw milk products — as long as strict standards are followed in producing it — is the National Farmers Union, often described as a “populist” organization with a focus on “family-size” farms.
Pulling on the other end of the rope in flat-out opposition to the sale of raw milk and raw milk products is the American Farm Bureau Federation, known for its lobbying powers on the state and federal level. Both claim the distinction of representing the American farmer.
These contrasting views came to light this year in policies adopted by the two organizations during their annual meetings.
Smooth sailing at the NFU convention
During the NFU’s 111th annual convention, held earlier this month in Massachusetts, the delegates endorsed a strong pro-raw milk stance. They also supported the interstate shipment of raw milk, which is one of the items listed under the topic of “Food Safety.”
With an eye on the faltering dairy industry — due in large part to high feed costs and slumping demand — the NFU policy came out in support of raw milk because “it provides a viable market niche for dairies.”
However, because of the risk of cross-contamination with other milk that might contain pathogens, the NFU policy recommends that raw milk be bottled as the product of a single dairy and, wherever possible, at the physical location of that dairy.
The organization also supports policies, practices and standards of responsible raw milk production for dairy farmers who choose to produce raw milk or raw milk products for human consumption. And it calls for equal access to these products for all consumers who choose to consume raw milk.
Continue reading, “Two Major Farm Groups Take Opposite Tack on Raw Milk” at Food Safety News.
Food Safety News
By Dan Flynn | March 7, 2013
For the fourth year in a row, attempts in the Iowa General Assembly to make legal on-the-farm sales of unpasteurized milk and milk products have ended in failure. Legislative experts in Des Moines say all raw milk bills, including House Bill (HSB) 131 that also sought to allow raw milk farmers to deliver to consumers in town, are dead.
State Rep. Jason Schultz, who chairs the Iowa House Local Government Committee, did not take up HSB 131 Wednesday and said the committee would not meet again before Friday’s cutoff date for bills to pass out of a committee in their house of origin.
Schultz, R-Schleswig, personally supported the raw milk bill, but said: “It is clear that the other side does not want to come to the table, and we will work on them during the interim.”
Likewise, Senate File (SF) 61 and SF 77, two other raw milk bills are being killed by the cutoff deadline, which the Iowa Assembly calls “The Funnel.”
Continue reading, “Sale and Delivery of Raw Milk Goes Down “The Funnel” in Iowa” at Food Safety News.
Food Safety News
By News Desk | March 6, 2013
The number of people sickened with Campylobacter infections linked to raw milk in Alaska has now risen from 18 to 24, reported health officials this week, according to news channel KTVA 11.
Two patients have been hospitalized as a result of their infections, according to the Alaska Section of Epidemiology (SOE). One of the victims is an infant who contracted a secondary infection, and did not drink the raw milk directly.
The bacteria has been traced to a cow share program on the Kenai Peninsula.
The milk was distributed to shareholders throughout the Kenai Peninsula, in Anchorage, and in Sitka, according to a February 22 press release from the SOE.
The last Campylobacter outbreak traced to raw milk in Alaska was in 2011. A total of 18 people were sickened from that milk, also produced by a cow share program.
Food Safety News
By Dan Flynn | March 6, 2013
A year ago, it looked like the Indiana General Assembly was about to allow raw milk to be sold in the state. Instead it only passed one change in the law, and that was to require raw milk to be labeled as “not for human consumption.”
Then, it sent word down to the Indiana Board of Animal Health (BOAH) that it wanted the state’s most powerful agricultural board to study the raw milk issue and report back to the General Assembly.
Since receiving that report last Dec. 1, Indiana lawmakers have not shown much further interest letting raw milk flow. The BOAH report took the approach used by the 2010 Wisconsin task force by outlining standards that would be required if raw milk sales were ever permitted.
Senate Bill (SB) 513, introduced into the current session by Sen. Richard Young (D-Milltown), would have permitted raw milk sales subject to BOAH rule making authority. But SB 513 was allowed to die in the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Then there was SB 610, introduced by Sen. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) that would have allowed raw milk to be distributed to family members and non-paying guests only. It too died, this one meeting its demise in the Senate Committee on Health and Provider Services.
After former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed a bill to permit raw milk sales in the Diary State, he also commissioned the Raw Milk Policy Working Group, which ended up setting a high bar for any future legislative action. And since that group’s report was issued in 2011, no raw milk bill in Wisconsin has advanced anywhere near that far.
Wisconsin, the nation’s top dairy state, and Indiana, a top state for dairy processing, are leaders among the 20 states that currently prohibit the sale of raw milk for human consumption. After much noise, it now seems unlikely that either state is going to go soft on non-pasteurized milk.
Legislatures in Wyoming and Mississippi have also proven to be killing fields for raw milk bills this year.
Continue reading, “Raw Milk Study Leads Indiana to Keep Mandatory Pasteurization” at Food Safety News.
Food Safety News
By News Desk February 28, 2013
Michael Hartmann, the 59-year-old Minnesota dairy farmer, is in more trouble over charges involving the sale of unpasteurized milk.
It was just last October that Hartmann was putting legal problems behind with a plea bargain that saw him plead guilty to just two misdemeanor counts, one for illegally selling raw milk and raw milk products and the other for selling other foods, such as beef and pork, without food licenses.
In the plea deal, other counts against Hartmann, his wife Diane and brother Roger and business associate Linda Schultz were all dropped by state prosecutors. Hartmann agreed to a $585 fine and unsupervised probation for six months and further promised he’d comply with state licensing and labeling laws.
He did not make it. In January, the Gibbon dairyman was charged with delivering raw milk to customers in the Twin Cities. After that, state investigators discovered 300 gallons of bottled raw milk during a search of the Hartmann farm.
Continue reading, “Raw Milk Deliveries to Twin Cities Trips Up Michael Hartmann” at Food Safety News.
WSDA warns consumers to avoid Dungeness Valley Creamery raw milk products
OLYMPIA — The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) is warning consumers not to drink Dungeness Valley Creamery brand raw Jersey whole milk, raw Jersey skim milk, and raw Jersey cream because the products may be contaminated with Escherichia coli bacteria (E. coli) that can cause serious illness.
Dungeness Valley Creamery raw Jersey cream, raw Jersey whole milk and raw Jersey skim milk with any Best Buy dates of 03/02 or later may be contaminated. The firm sells its products in gallon, half gallon, quart and pint containers. Today’s health alert includes all container sizes of the unpasteurized milk products.
The health alert is being initiated after routine sampling by WSDA found toxin-producing E. coli in a sample of raw cream. Based in Sequim, the Dungeness Valley Creamery and WSDA are continuing their investigation into the source of the problem. Currently, no human illnesses have been linked with these products.
Some strains of E. coli produce a toxin called Shiga toxin that can lead to severe illness. Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infections may cause severe diarrhea, stomach cramps, and bloody stool. Symptoms generally appear three to four days after exposure, but can take as long as nine days to appear. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should contact a health care provider.
The infection sometimes causes hemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious disease in which red blood cells are destroyed and the kidneys fail. Infants, children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are especially at risk.
According to the Dungeness Valley Creamery website, the firm’s products are sold at the following retail locations:
• Bainbridge Island: Real Foods; Pan D’Amore; Walt’s Lynwood Center Market
• Bothell: Tru Health
• Bremerton: CJ’s Evergreen General Store; Fresh Local
• Federal Way: Marlene’s Market & Deli
• Issaquah: Front Street Red Apple
• Longview: Country village Nutrition Shoppe
• Olympia: Olympia Food Co-op East; Olympia Food Co-op West
• Port Angeles: Country Aire; Good To Go
• Port Townsend: Port Townsend Food Co-op
• Poulsbo: Abundantly Green
• Seattle: Madison Market; My Asia’s Essentials; Pike Place Market Creamery
• Sequim: Sequim Prairie Grange; Red Rooster Grocery; Sunny Farms Farm Store
• Tacoma: Marlene’s Market & Deli
• Vancouver: Chuck’s Produce; Neighbors Market
Retail raw milk is legal to sell and buy in Washington, but there are serious potential health risks. Consumers should read the warning label on the retail raw milk container carefully and ask their retailer to verify the milk was produced and processed by a WSDA-licensed operation.
Link to Press Release: http://agr.wa.gov/News/2013/13-06.aspx
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Several families offered to share their stories on video to help raise awareness about the potential risks and negative effects on health from drinking contaminated raw milk.