April 23, 2024

FDA Warns Consumers About Possible Brucella Risks in Raw Milk Sold by Udder Milk in NJ NY CT RI

The FDA is warning consumers who purchased raw milk from Udder Milk Co-Op that they may have been exposed to the RB51 strain of Brucella abortus, a pathogenic bacteria that can cause serious illness. A woman in New Jersey who drank the company’s milk has been infected with an antibiotic-resistant strain of that bacteria.

Milk splashes

Anyone who drank or ate Udder Milk raw milk or raw milk products should contact their doctor immediately and get post-exposure prophylaxis antibiotic treatment to avoid infection. Since this bacteria is resistant to antibiotics, any illness caused by these products can be serious.

The only way to diagnose people infected with this strain of Brucella is to grow the bacteria through cultures. Most doctors do not test for Brucella when patients present with the symptoms of this infection.

In addition, if you drank or ate Udder Milk raw milk or raw milk products, check yourself for fever for four weeks. And watch for other brucellosis symptoms for six months, since they can take that long to appear. Symptoms of this illness include fever, sweats, malaise, lack of appetite, joint pain, back pain, and muscle pain. More serious symptoms and complications include arthritis, depression, neurologic symptoms, and swelling of the heart.

Udder milk says that it sold raw milk products in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. The Health Departments of New Jersey and Rhode Island have issued cease and desist orders to Udder Milk. It is illegal to sell unpasteurized milk in New Jersey. And it is illegal to “transport raw milk in final packed form for human consumption across state lines and sell the milk,” according to the FDA notice.

Udder Milk is described as “a co-op on wheels,” and sells raw milk in those four states. The patient in New Jersey who is sick told authorities that she drank milk purchased from Udder Milk.

There have been only two domestically acquired brucellosis infections caused by Brucella RB51 in the United States this year. The other case is a person who lives in Texas who got sick in July. The FDA notice states that the two incidents are not related.

The strain of Brucella bacteria in the New Jersey case is B. abortus RB51, a weakened strain that is used to vaccinate young female cattle against infection with more serious strains of Brucella. Vaccinating cows helps prevent abortions in cows and reduces the risk of of more serious infections. But in rare cases, these cows can shed RB1 in their milk. Pasteurization of milk kills this bacteria and other harmful pathogens.

The New Jersey Department of Health issued a cease and desist order to Udder Milk on November 9, 2017. The Rhode Island Department of Health issued a cease and desist order to Udder Milk on November 15, 2017. Udder Milk’s web site, which had provided contact information, was inactive as of November 15, 2017. And the FDA has been unable to contact Udder Milk to request a recall.

If you bought raw milk or raw milk products from Udder Milk, do not eat or drink them. Throw them away in sealed packages. Contact your health care provider as soon as possible and tell them you may have been exposed to Brucella RB51.

Then clean out your refrigerator, and cutting boards and countertops. Sanitize them with a mild bleach solution. And wash your hands well with soap and water after you handle these products and after you clean your kitchen.

The law firm of Pritzker Hageman helps people sickened by contaminated food such as raw milk protect their legal rights, and get compensation and justice. Our lawyers represent patients and the families of children sickened with bacterial infections in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against dairies, farmers, food distributors, coops, retailers, food producers, food processors, restaurants, schools, and others. Attorney Fred Pritzker recently won $7.5 million for young client whose kidneys failed because of hemolytic uremic syndrome after an E. coli infection. Class action lawsuits may not be appropriate for outbreak victims because the cases are very unique.

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