WTF? New Zealand dairy cleared to sell raw milk after Campylobacter outbreak, two kids get E. coli from different NZ raw milk

As Village Milk Timaru in New Zealand begins selling raw milk after being linked to seven Campylobacter illnesses, at least two Timaru pupils have contracted E. coli following school trips, with raw milk being a possible cause.

colbert.raw.milkWho serves raw milk to schoolkids? They don’t have the choice adults do.

South Canterbury medical officer of health Dr Daniel Williams said, “All the children that have been sick have drunk raw milk, but it has not been confirmed what caused the illnesses yet.”

The pupils did not visit the Timaru farm of Stuart and Andrea Weir, which has been at the center of an ongoing Campylobacter investigation.

“We have had a clean run of at least five consecutive days. That gives us enough confidence to resume our operations in Timaru,” chief executive Mark Houston said.

“We don’t want to speculate or point fingers. We understand South Canterbury is a bit of a haven for Campylobacter.” 

Wilbur Feagan and food safety

A fitting obituary for Wilbur S. Feagan, who died March 29 at his Springfield, Missouri home at the age of 100.

Feagan, who founded the Black Pearl Award via the International Association for Food Protection with an endowment of $35,000, seemed the embodiment of a food safety professional: it may not be glamorous, but it’s important.

wilburFrom the Springfiled News-Leader:

Feagan graduated college as an engineer in 1936 at a time when people would get sick from unpasteurized milk. He spent his life not only making milk, but food in general, safer for consumers.

At Feagan’s 100th birthday celebration on Sept. 19 at the White River Conference Center, one gift was a half gallon of Hiland Dairy buttermilk. Feagan often attributed his longevity to consumption of dairy products — and the drinking of buttermilk in particular.

Until a Dec. 10 stroke, Feagan had been driving and going to work daily, said Ed Donnell, who works at F & H Food Equipment Company, in Springfield. Feagan co-founded the company in 1959 with Paul Higley.

According to Donnell, Feagan always made it clear that employees could take time off work to care for family members or to attend their children’s baseball games.

“He truly wanted other people to do well, and he made sure family came first,” Donnell said.

Soon after college, Feagan worked at the St. Louis Dairy Commission. St. Louis had just passed a Public Health Service Milk Ordinance.

In 1939, the United States Public Health Service considered milk to be such a high health priority that it drafted the Model Milk Health Ordinance and promoted it for adoption by cities across the nation. The major concern was raw, or unpasteurized, milk sold to the public.

Harold Bengsch, a Greene County commissioner, was the county health director from 1984 to 2004. That’s how he knew Feagan. He lunched with him often.

“One of the things that impressed me most about Wilbur was when you would talk about an issue he would often say, ‘Let’s just take a look back to the ’30s or ’40s. We had something similar happen, and this is how we worked it out.’ ”

Kids don’t get to choose: more illness with more raw milk in US

An alliance of food activists and anti-regulation libertarians is battling to legalize raw, unpasteurized milk, despite warnings from health officials about the rising toll of illnesses affecting adults and children alike.

Kimberly Kindy of The Washington Post writes that as the popularity of raw milk has grown, so too have associated outbreaks. They have nearly colbert.raw.milkdoubled over the past five years, with eight out of 10 cases occurring in states that have legalized sales of the unpasteurized product, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Public health officials have also documented how pathogens in raw milk have produced kidney failure in more than a dozen cases and paralysis in at least two.

The CDC, which analyzed more than a decade of outbreak data, said the chance of getting sick as part of an outbreak caused by raw milk is 150 times greater than from pasteurized milk. The agency reported that 796 people in 24 states had become sick after consuming raw milk between 2006 and 2011, the latest years for which complete data are available.

CDC and FDA officials say 55 percent of the victims are younger than 18 and got the beverage from a parent or guardian.

‘Tip of iceburg’ 7 sick from Campylobacter linked to NZ raw milk

A recent outbreak of Campylobacter in Timaru, New Zealand, has been blamed on raw milk.

Seven people have been confirmed as having Campylobacter after purchasing raw milk from a farm on the outskirts of Timaru.

South Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Daniel Williams believes the seven cases colbert.raw.milkare the tip the iceberg.

”Drinking raw milk is risky for your health. It can contain disease-causing bacteria and other organisms which can lead to gastroenteritis and other illnesses, some of which can be life-threatening,” Dr Williams said.

Dr Williams said even drinking raw milk from suppliers with the highest hygiene and safety standards can be dangerous as any raw cow milk can contain bugs.

New Zealand legislation allows producers to sell up to five litres of raw milk daily at the farm gate to buyers who purchase it for themselves or their family.

Georgia bill seeks raw milk in grocery stores

From the dumbass files, Georgia legislators recently decided to continue the practice of making available the confederate flag license plate. With 439 purchased between 2012 and 2013, it’s probably not worth getting into ramifications of free speech versus civil rights, but it sorta matters.

Similarly, a bill filed by Rep. Scot Turner, a Holly Springs Republican, would allow grocery stores to sell unpasteurized milk, confederate.flag.platepitting the freedom of choice for a few against the public health of the many.

It sorta matters.

Currently, unprocessed milk may only be legally sold in Georgia for pet consumption.

Despite that, some say they bypass grocery stores and buy milk directly from farmers because they like knowing where the milk they’re drinking comes from and that the product is pure.

Raw milk consumers say allowing grocery stores to begin selling unpasteurized milk would likely give way to regulations that would change the quality of the products and interfere with the relationships between farmers and consumers.

“Regulation is always tilted toward big agriculture, not small farms,” said Cindy Morrow, of Woodstock. “I don’t mind taking the ‘risk’ with food. I do have a problem with big government.” Morrow said she usually pays between $7 and $8 per gallon for unprocessed milk when she meets with a local farmer.

Turner said he considers the proposal as a way of putting power back in the hands of consumers.

The full story has numerous nosestretchers.

Food Safety Talk 56: Damned hard to make safe food

Food Safety Talk, a bi-weekly podcast for food safety nerds, by food safety nerds. The podcast is hosted by Ben Chapman and barfblog contributor Don Schaffner, Extension Specialist in Food Science and Professor at Rutgers University. Every two weeks or so, Ben and Don get together virtually and talk for about an hour.  They talk about what’s on their minds or in the news regarding food safety, and popular culture. They strive to be relevant, funny and informative — sometimes they succeed. You can download the audio recordings right from the website, or subscribe using iTunes.

The guys started the show following up on the previous episode, the write up on David Gumpert’s website and the comments on the Internet. Theresa Lam also reached out wanting to know more about the risks associated with bootleg versus regulated raw milk.

roger dean wallpaper.jpg

Despite raw milk drinker’s hatred of epidemiologists, Don confessed that maybe he wants to be an epidemiologist, while Ben noted that he has admired them ever since the Jalapeno Saintpaul outbreak. Don also praised Petran, White and Hedberg, for their efforts to identify what items in a restaurant inspection were predictive of the possibility of an outbreak, and Ben’s comments to USA Today on the topic.

A quick round of “I think you’re thinking of” with Howard Dean, and Roger Dean, not to be confused with Roger Dean followed. The guys then hopped back in time with the whizzinator before moving on to food storage mistakes and tortilla safety as prompted by Listener John Kimble.

The guys covered the 1990′s in the IAFP history segment, which also featured a discussion of 808, the Beastie Boys and the speed of Joe Walsh’s Maserati. Ben identified the 1990′s with the adoption of PFGE and rapid methods, while Don though the Mega Regs characterized the time. Ben recalled a recent discussion with Cathy Cutter about meat processing and how HACCP shaped other food safety regulations.

The discussion then turned to Norovirus, prompted by a couple of recent noro outbreaks on the “Explorer of the Seas” and the Caribbean Princess, the boat that Chris Gunter boarded. Unfortunately, Chris couldn’t find out whether the hand sanitizer on the ship was the one that works, though he was assured that it was “alcohol based”. Ben wrapped up the noro discussion with the MoChunk resort outbreak. The guys talked about Netflix in the short after dark.

6 sick with Campylobacter linked to raw milk in Minnesota

Minnesota state health and agriculture officials reported today that routine disease surveillance has detected at least six illnesses linked to consumption of raw dairy products from the Dennis Jaloszyski dairy farm, near Cambridge, Minnesota.

According to epidemiologists with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), the illnesses include three people with laboratory confirmation of a bacterium called Campylobacter jejuni. The illnesses were reported to colbert.raw.milkMDH by health care providers as required under Minnesota law. When MDH contacted the individuals to inquire about potential causes of their illnesses, the ill people reported that they had consumed raw milk from the Jaloszynski Farm.

Minnesota Department of Agriculture inspectors visited the farm to determine how many customers were purchasing the milk to notify them of the outbreak. Because the owner did not have a customer list, a consumer advisory is being issued. Anyone who may have purchased or received raw milk from this farm should not drink it but should throw it away.

“We’re concerned that people may be continuing to get sick after consuming products from this farm,” said Trisha Robinson, a foodborne illness epidemiologist with MDH.

“While we are very concerned about the illnesses associated with this farm, this also is about the inherent risk for foodborne illness from any raw milk consumption,” Robinson said. “Drinking raw milk or eating products made from raw milk can expose you to a variety of pathogens that can result in anything from a few days of diarrhea to kidney failure and death. People need to think carefully about those risks before consuming raw dairy products from any source, and people need to know that the risks are especially high for young children.”

Craving credibility: raw milk risk and PR stunts

The scientific fringe craves the credibility – the impateur — of the scientific mainstream. It fuels conspiracy theories, drains public health resources, and unnecessarily worries a lot of folks; it’s a recycled tactic often used in the cigar.waffle.austin.powerspolitics of genetically engineered food, water fluoridation, and so on.

Mainstream science can be wrong; but it’s better than astrology.

In the interest of public discussion and equal opportunity opinion, public agencies will often invite alternate opinions on a topic. Which is apparently what the British Columbia (that’s a province in Canada) Center for Disease Control did when it invited a raw milk proponent to promote her cause.

The subsequent press release was predictable, breathlessly announcing in scientifically-sounding garble that “quantitative microbial risk assessments (QMRAs) recently published in the Journal of Food Protection have demonstrated that unpasteurized milk is a low-risk food.”

In craving credibility, the release states “British Columbia CDC’s Medical Director of Environmental Health Services, Dr. Tom Kosatsky, who is also Scientific Director of Canada’s National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health, welcomed the invited presentation as ‘up-to-date’ and ‘a very good example of knowledge synthesis and risk communication.’”

Risk communication shouldn’t be propaganda (although it often is).

Whether a food is low-risk or high-risk is a largely subjective comparison especially because it needs to be done on a per serving basis to be meaningful. A small percentage of people drink raw milk, yet it seems to colbert.raw.milkcause a disproportionately high number of outbreaks, especially among kids.

Most of us don’t have a scotch and smoke with our four-year-olds, most of us don’t share raw milk with our four-year-olds. But I’ll leave it to others to comment on the uh, unique interpretations of risk assessment.

When the press release appeared I e-mailed BCCDC. They said the talk, presented May 16, 2013, was fairly presented, but had not changed the views of BCCDC, which maintains pasteurization of raw milk has prevented thousands of illnesses and deaths. It is one of the greatest advances in public health of the 20th century” and that raw milk isn’t safe.”

Raw milk advocates unfazed by bacteria outbreak

With another five people sick with Campylobacter from another in an endless line of outbreaks, the popularity of raw milk seems to be increasing.

Or so say raw milk proponents, like those quoted in the Lehigh Valley.

Farmer Layne Klein swears by the health benefits of raw milk, and says his Klein Farms Dairy & Creamery takes all the necessary steps to ensure its milk is safe to drink, and customers can take a look at the cows when they colbert.raw.milkvisit. “We have nothing to hide. We drink it ourselves, so we make sure it’s perfectly clean. … We just keep getting busier and busier.”

Maybe customers are outfitted with those ultra-sensitive bacteria-detecting goggles I keep hearing about, especially when there is an outbreak.

Or, like organic, local, natural, sustainable and dolphin-free, the latest food movement is pushed along by PR, celebrity endorsements, a compliant media, self-interest better profit margins and a human willingness to believe.

For all the positive press organic has received over the years, it should dominate retail sales. It doesn’t.

Raw milk sales are a sliver of conventional milk sales, yet consume a wildly disproportionate amount of electronic gibbering, a wildly disproportionate number of sick people, and a wildly disproportionate chomp of scarce public health resources.

Consumers can choose whatever they want. But there is nothing available for consumers to choose microbiologically safe food – the bugs that make people sick.