April 26, 2018

KDA: Raw Milk Food Poisoning Risk High

The Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) together with the Kansas Department of Health (KDH) just issued a press release recommending that consumers avoid raw milk because of the high risk of contracting a foodborne illness.

The KDA referenced a study by the CDC that showed statistics proved the rate of outbreaks from raw milk and raw milk products is 150 times greater than the rate of outbreaks from pasteurized milk and pasteurized milk products.

And the rate of hospitalizations from raw milk outbreaks is 13 times higher compared to hospitalizations associated with pasteurized milk outbreaks.

The Kansas Department of Agriculture Dairy Inspection Program Manager George Blush said:

“Consuming raw milk is an unnecessary risk. You cannot tell if milk is safe by just looking at, smelling it, or tasting it. Even milk from the cleanest dairies can post risk without the pasteurization safeguard.”

There have been three foodborne illness outbreaks since 2007 in Kansas:

  • In October 2007, 68 people were sickened by cheese made from raw milk at a Kansas community celebration. The bacteria responsible was Campylobacter jejuni.
  • Another outbreak in 2007 sickened 25 people with Campylobacter.
  • In January 2012, 18 people were sickened in an outbreak of Campylobacter from raw milk produced at a dairy in southern Kansas. An epidemiologist at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment confirmed to Food Poisoning Bulletin that this outbreak did occur.

It’s illegal to sell raw milk in Kansas in a retail setting. Dairy farmers can legally sell raw milk directly to consumers from their farms, but that practice is not recommended. Dairies can advertise, but only with a sign at the farm.

The state does not inspect raw milk farms on a routine basis; only if there is a complaint. And the milk must be labeled as “ungraded raw milk.”

The Kansas Department of Agriculture has produced a brochure titled What You Should Know About Unpasteurized Milk.

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