Pasteurization works, and Salmonella is not a magical ingredient of raw milk

My version of the 90-10 rule: 90 per cent of time is spent on 10 per cent of participants, whether it’s hockey parents, graduate students, or public health.

napoleon.raw.milkSo once again, raw milk and cream produced by a Fresno County-based dairy company were recalled Monday due to salmonella, the California Department of Food and Agriculture said.

Salmonella was detected by the CDFA in Organic Pastures Dairy’s Raw Heavy Cream, Raw Whole Milk and Raw Skim Milk with the “USE BY” date of June 1, 2016.

The dairy products should be immediately pulled from retail shelves and consumers are urged to throw out any products in their homes, the CDFA said.

The salmonella bacteria was found during a follow-up test to an earlier recall. On May 9, Organic Pastures Dairy’s products with “USE BY” date May 18, 2016, were recalled also due to salmonella.

Straight outta Compton: So rad it’s selling raw milk

A Compton resident was cited for selling unpasteurized milk mixed with alcohol over the weekend, authorities said. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies conducted patrol checks on Jan. 21 along the 400 blocks of West Bennett and West Caldwell streets, as well as the 600 block of West Raymond Street,…

straight_outta_comptonA Compton resident was cited for selling unpasteurized milk mixed with alcohol over the weekend, authorities said.

On Saturday, deputies conducted another check and found about 40 people, including children, under a makeshift carport who appeared to be drinking milk from Styrofoam cups.

There were several cows and goats at the site but no pasteurization equipment, and a table with sugar and chocolate to flavor the milk, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

Doering: Label raw milk cheese

Ronald L. Doering, BA, LL.B. MA, LL.D., a past president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and now counsel in the Ottawa offices of Gowling WLG, writes in his Food in Canada column that the science keeps piling up.

ron.doeringIt is not safe to consume raw milk and its products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced studies that show again that pathogens from raw milk including tuberculosis, diphtheria, typhoid, Salmonella, Listeria, and many other bacterial infections make it unsafe for human consumption. A comprehensive study was released last month by Belgian authorities that concluded that “raw milk poses a realistic health threat due to possible contamination with human pathogens.” Interestingly, the same study found that there was “no substantial change in the nutritional value of raw milk or other benefits associated with raw milk consumption,” but that’s a story for another day. And, of course, the unfortunate proof keeps coming, with hundreds of outbreaks, many deaths and thousands of illnesses just in the last few years due to raw milk and raw milk cheese.

Just because raw milk and raw milk cheese are not as safe as if they were pasteurized doesn’t necessarily mean that they should be banned. That is why regulations around the world are so inconsistent. The sale of raw milk is illegal in Scotland, but legal in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (indeed our future king will drink nothing else, a fact that could be used by both sides of the debate!). South of the border the states are roughly evenly divided, but interstate commerce is banned. Raw milk and most raw milk cheeses are banned in Australia but legal in New Zealand. In Canada, the sale of raw milk directly to consumers is prohibited by a variety of provincial provisions and it is a federal crime to sell unpasteurized milk under B.08.002.2(1) of the Food and Drug Regulations.

Canada continues to allow the sale of raw milk cheeses aged over 60 days, but provides this clear warning: “Health Canada’s ongoing advice to pregnant women, children, older adults and people with a weakened immune system is to avoid eating cheese made from raw milk as it does present a higher risk of foodborne illness than pasteurized milk cheeses. If consumers are unsure whether a cheese is made from pasteurized milk, they should check the label or ask the retailer.”

raw-milk-cheeseWhen I first wrote about this issue three years ago I pointed out the regulatory absurdity of the last sentence in the Health Canada (HC) warning. There is no requirement to label and most retailers have no idea if the cheese is made from raw milk, and have no means to determine if it is. At the time I received an informal response to my article from a senior official advising me that before moving to mandatory labelling, HC was going to partner with FDA to do a risk assessment of raw milk cheese, focusing specifically on the risk of illness from Listeria monocytogenes. The results of this risk assessment were released last summer: “The risk of listeriosis from the consumption of soft-ripened cheese made from raw milk is substantially larger than that for consumption of soft-ripened cheese made from pasteurized milk and the 60-day aging regulation actually increases the risk of listeriosis for consumption of raw milk cheeses.” The risk was found to be from 50 to 160 times greater. This resulted in HC issuing a Voluntary Guidance to manufacturers that included suggestions to industry to do regular testing of both the raw milk and the cheese and that “Manufacturers should consider labelling their products with the words ‘made from raw or unpasteurized milk’ on the front panel display and/or in the list of the ingredients.”

The Guidance document seeks feedback from stakeholders before developing new “policy and/or regulatory options.” Here’s mine, again: stop the bureaucratic dithering and do what the Americans, Brits and Europeans have already done – make it mandatory for all manufacturers to label their raw milk cheeses. It’s useless, as they say, to try to reason someone out of something they didn’t reason themselves into, so if we can’t stop people from consuming raw milk and its products, then let’s at least ensure that it is not consumed unknowingly particularly by children, the elderly or expectant mothers. HC now requires unpasteurized juice to be labelled. Who’s against mandatory labelling of raw milk cheese?

Again: Calif. orders recall of Organic Pastures Dairy milk and cream

California officials have issued a statewide recall of Organic Pastures Dairy’s raw milk and cream after routine testing found the presence of salmonella in a sample of raw cream.

picard.face.palmAlthough no illnesses have been reported, state veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones ordered the recall of the Fresno County dairy’s raw milk, raw skim milk and raw cream labeled with a code date of May 18.

The state said Organic Pastures products should be pulled immediately from retail shelves, and consumers are strongly urged to dispose of any product remaining in their refrigerators.

Mark McAfee, owner of Organic Pastures, said the dairy never has tested positive for salmonella, and he suspects the problem may have come from eggs he was distributing for a fellow farmer.

“We have discontinued distributing the eggs, and we are confident the problem has been taken care of,” McAfee said.

Cow-share program a ‘sham’ Australian dairy farmers plead guilty to selling raw milk

A South Australian dairy farming couple charged over a cow-sharing scheme have pleaded guilty to selling milk that did not comply with national standards.

Mark and Helen TylerMark and Helen Tyler from Willunga Hill, south of Adelaide, supplied unpasteurised milk weekly to shareholders.

It is illegal to sell raw milk for human consumption in South Australia, but not to drink it from your own cow.

In May last year, a magistrate found the Tylers’ “cow-share program” was a sham and convicted them of two counts of breaching the Food Act.

The couple appealed to the Supreme Court and won a retrial, which was due to start today, but instead Mr and Mrs Tyler pleaded guilty.

SA Health director of public health services Dr Kevin Buckett said the department had always held the view that the Tylers’ cow-share scheme constituted the sale of milk.

“We are pleased with this outcome and we will continue to protect the public from the risks associated with drinking raw cow’s milk,” Dr Buckett said.

Sentencing submissions are being held tomorrow.

Raw is risky: Campylobacter infections associated with raw milk consumption sicken 99 in Utah, 2014

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that a total of 99 cases (59 confirmed and 40 probable) of campylobacteriosis, including 10 patients who were hospitalized, and one who died, occurred in an outbreak in northern Utah associated with a single raw milk dairy.

raw.milk.death.1917The outbreak was documented by epidemiologic, environmental, and laboratory evidence. Despite routine testing of raw milk showing results within acceptable limits, the milk still contained dangerous bacteria.

To limit outbreaks from raw milk consumption, more reliable routine tests are needed that do not rely solely on bacterial, coliform, and somatic cell counts. Case investigation and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis patterns from environmental samples can support an epidemiologic link and allow implementation of control measures.

In May 2014, the Utah Public Health Laboratory (UPHL) notified the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) of specimens from three patients infected with Campylobacter jejuni yielding indistinguishable pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns. All three patients had consumed raw (unpasteurized and nonhomogenized) milk from dairy A. In Utah, raw milk sales are legal from farm to consumer with a sales permit from the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF). Raw milk dairies are required to submit monthly milk samples to UDAF for somatic cell and coliform counts, both of which are indicators of raw milk contamination. Before this cluster’s identification, dairy A’s routine test results were within acceptable levels (<400,000 somatic cells/mL and <10 coliform colony forming units/mL). Subsequent enhanced testing procedures recovered C. jejuni, a fastidious organism, in dairy A raw milk; the isolate matched the cluster pattern. UDAF suspended dairy A’s raw milk permit during August 4–October 1, and reinstated the permit when follow-up cultures were negative. Additional cases of C. jejuni infection were identified in October, and UDAF permanently revoked dairy A’s permit to sell raw milk on December 1. During May 9–November 6, 2014, a total of 99 cases of C. jejuni infection were identified. Routine somatic cell and coliform counts of raw milk do not ensure its safety. Consumers should be educated that raw milk might be unsafe even if it meets routine testing standards.

Aus/NZ health types stand strong for safe milk

A campaign to legalize raw cow’s milk has found Far North Queensland support but health authorities have warned it is unfit for human consumption.

colbert.raw.milkTablelands dairy farmers have been drinking milk straight from the vat all their lives and believe the unpasteurised product could be safely sold to the public if regulated properly.

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young has warned raw milk isn’t fit for human consumption.

“People who consume ­unpasteurized milk are at ­increased risk of infection due to dangerous bacteria such as salmonella, E. coli and listeria, which are capable of causing severe illness and potentially death,” she said.

“All unpasteurised milk products in Australia are ­required to be labelled with a statement to the effect that the product has not been pasteurized and is not for human ­consumption.”

Raw milk is sold as bath milk at health stores such as The Healthy Hub in Cairns, where a two-litre bottle fetches $11.50.

Meanwhile, New Zealand food safety minister Jo Goodhew is making no apologies for tough new regulations for raw milk producers.

Mrs. Goodhew said new rules simply brought the milk into line with other products being sold to the public for consumption, and aimed to keep people safe.

“It does only put these producers on a par with other food producers who sell high-risk products such as, for instance, shellfish.”

‘There’s a lot of ignorance’ S. Australian dairy farmers lead renewed push to legalize raw milk

Raw milk producers are making a renewed push to legislate the sale of unpasteurised milk.

colbert.raw.milk“There’s a lot of ignorance. People don’t understand the facts about raw milk and how it can be done well,” raw milk dairy farmer Mark Tyler said.

Selling raw milk is currently illegal in Australia, but farmers can drink their own milk.

The Tyler family, who farm at Willunga Hill, about an hour out of Adelaide, now supply the niche product to about 700 investors in South Australia.

Raw milk is a premium product and sells for at least three times the farm-gate milk price.

“We’re just providing an alternative rather than dairy farmers being locked in as slaves for the big corporations,” Mr Tyler said.

Working within the legislation has not been easy, with authorities charging Mr Tyler for selling raw milk illegally.

After an appeal to the Supreme Court a mistrial was declared, and a new trial will begin later this year.

“In 15 years of testing, we’ve never had a pathogen in our milk,” Mr Tyler said.

But authorities say raw milk poses a health risk, especially to children.

A Victorian child died in 2014 after drinking raw milk marketed as bath milk, and in that state a bittering agent is now added to discourage consumption.

The regulator, Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ), said raw milk was more likely to contain deadly bacteria like E. coli, salmonella and listeria.

 

Do as I say, not as I do: West Virginia won’t penalize lawmaker who gave out raw milk

West Virginia health officials won’t penalize a state lawmaker who illegally handed out raw milk at the Capitol.

colbert.raw.milkA letter from the Bureau for Public Health last week says Del. Scott Cadle clearly violated state law by offering raw milk to the public on March 3. The letter to Cadle stated that he wouldn’t be fined because it was a first offense, but asked him not to sell or distribute raw milk again.

According to the letter, Cadle offered raw milk to anyone who wished to try it at the end of a March 3 floor session.

The letter says one other House delegate and several others became sick around the time they drank the raw milk. There also had been a stomach illness circulating at the Capitol. An investigation into whether people got sick because of raw milk continues.

A bill allowing for herd sharing agreements and the consumption of raw milk was passed during the session, and signed into law by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

From the we’ve-never-made-anyone-sick-before files: Conn. E. coli on goat farm edition

The goat farm in Lebanon that may be linked to an E. coli outbreak has been given two stipulations by the health department, the owner told NBC Connecticut.

oak-leaf-dairy-goat-farm-march-6th-1024x684Oak Leaf Dairy Farm is no longer allowed to have the public visit its goats and may not distribute unpasteurized products, Mark Reynolds, the farm’s owner, said.

Reynolds said the outbreak has already started affecting his wholesale business. He said he had never had E. coli linked to his farm before.

The Department of Health and other agencies began to investigate Oak Leaf Dairy Farm after seven people contracted E. coli.

Six of those people were children who visited the farm and petted the goats.

Connecticut Children’s Medical Center said two patients have been diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).