April 21, 2024

Five Raw Milk Outbreaks Highlight the Inherent Risks

Five raw milk outbreaks occurring at the same time this fall highlight the inherent risks of this product. Raw milk is unpasteurized, that is, it is not heat treated to kill dangerous pathogens such as E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, Brucella, Campylobacter, and Cryptosporidium.

Five Raw Milk Outbreaks Highlight the Inherent Risk

The issue is that a cow’s udders are close to the anus. And ruminant animals such as cows can harbor pathogens and not appear sick. The pathogens are excreted in feces and can easily contaminate the udders and milk.

All together, these outbreaks have sickened at least 51 people. And since the multipliers for Salmonella and Campylobacter alone are around 30, that means there could be 1500 people sick.

The Outbreaks

These outbreaks occurred in September and October, 2023. Two of the outbreaks are caused by Salmonella, two by Campylobacter, one by both Campylobacter and E. coli, and one by both Cryptosporidium and E. coli.

Raw Farm LLC

A Salmonella outbreak linked to Raw Farm LLC raw whole milk in California has sickened at least 19 people. A dozen of those patients live in San Diego County and seven patients live in Orange County. The farm is located in Fresno, California. Three patients are hospitalized. And public health officials are looking at other Salmonella cases in the state to see if they are linked to these products.

The farm recalled their raw milk and raw heavy cream products on October 24, 2023. The farm cannot sell any raw milk or cream products while the investigation is ongoing.

Utah Natural Meat and Milk

A Campylobacter outbreak linked to raw milk from Utah Natural Meat and Milk, located in West Jordon, Utah has sickened at least 14 people. One patient was hospitalized but is recovering at home. Twelve of those patients told public health officials that they drank raw milk from that dairy before getting sick. Testing found Campylobacter in the dairy’s raw milk and it matches the outbreak strain from patient isolates.

Provider Farms

Another Campylobacter outbreak is linked to Provider Farms in Idaho and has sickened at least five people. That dairy is located in Ada County. Three of those five patients have tested positive for Campylobacter. They reported drinking raw milk produced by the dairy in Mountain Home, Idaho before getting sick. The outbreak was identified on September 20, 2023. Samples from the dairy are being tested.

Slow Food in the Tetons

An E. coli and Campylobacter outbreak in Wyoming is linked to raw milk that was distributed through Slow Food in the Tetons online market. The dairy that produced the milk has not been identified. Four children and one adult are sick in this outbreak. Two children have been hospitalized. The nonprofit ended sales when they were told about the outbreak.

Healthy Harvest

A Cryptosporidium and E. coli outbreak in Minnesota is linked to Healthy Harvest Farm raw milk. Eight people are sick with cryptosporidiosis, and one patient has both cryptosporidiosis and an E. coli O111:48 infection at the same time. That farm is located in Hillman, Minnesota.

Four of the patients are under 10 years old, and one has been hospitalized.

Protect Yourself

The CDC, FDA, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Institute of Health all urge people to avoid drinking raw milk or eating raw milk products. The chances of getting sick from these types of foods is much higher than other type of foods, according to a study from Johns Hopkins. Avoiding these foods is especially important for young children, people over the age of 65, those with compromised immune systems, and anyone who has a chronic disease like diabetes.

Pasteurization is safe and effective. Milk is heated to 161°F for 15 seconds, which is long enough to kill pathogens but not long enough to destroy nutrients. The only nutrient that may be reduced during that heating period is Vitamin C, but milk is not considered a good source of that nutrient.

Food Poisoning Symptoms

Symptoms of a Cryptosporidium illness take up to two to ten days to manifest. This parasite causes watery diarrhea, and patients my also suffer from stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and fever. People can be sick up to a month.

Symptoms of a Salmonella food poisoning infection start 12 hours to six days after infection. People experience fever, chills, headache, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, abdominal pain and cramps, and diarrhea that can be bloody.

Symptoms of a Campylobacter infection are similar to an E. coli infection. Patients usually experience severe and painful abdominal cramps along with bloody diarrhea. A fever may also be present.

Symptoms of an E. coli infection can take three to seven days to appear.Most people suffer from severe and painful abdominal cramps along with bloody diarrhea. Some may experience a mild fever nausea, and vomiting. In some patients, especially younger children, this infection can progress to a condition called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a type of kidney failure. Symptoms of HUS include little or no urine output, lethargy, pale skin, easy bruising, bleeding from the nose and mouth, and a skin rash.

And complications from all of these infections can be serious, even after complete recovery. Long term complications can include kidney failure, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease for E. coli patients; strokes and kidney transplants for HUS patients; Reiter’s syndrome, high blood pressure and endocarditis for Salmonella patients; Guillain-Barré syndrome for Campylobacter patients, which can cause paralysis; and growth delays, malnutrition, and cognitive impairment for Cryptosporidium patients.

Attorneys at the Pritzker Hageman Food Safety Law Firm

If you have been sickened with a food poisoning infection, please contact our experienced attorneys for help with a possible lawsuit at 1-888-377-8900 or text us at 612-261-0856. Our firm represents clients in lawsuits against grocery stores, restaurants, farms, dairies, and food processors.

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