Food Poisoning in Four States Linked to Pennsylvania Raw Milk

At least 35 people in four states have suffered food poisoning from raw milk that came from a Pennsylvania farm, health officials report. 

Most of the victims of the raw milk food poisoning outbreak have been in Pennsylvania, where authorities say tainted, unpasteurized milk was sold from The Family Cow farm in Chambersburg. The milk is believed to be tainted and has caused campylobacter bacterial infections.

There are at least 28 victims in Pennsylvania, four illnesses reported in Maryland, two in West Virginia and one in New Jersey. The farm has suspended raw milk production while the milk is being tested.

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The raw milk recall affects all unpasteurized milk items, including milk, butter and cheese, sold at The Family Cow with a Best By date in January.

The farm has indicated that customers should discard the raw milk if it was bought directly from the farm and to contact the farm for a full refund. If purchased in a store, the milk should be returned to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Late last month, Family Cow issued a notice to customers alerting them to the suspension of sales of raw milk, but the release also claims that their own pathogen tests showed no signs of bacterial contamination and said that some reports indicate that some of the people who have fallen ill did not drink their milk.

On February 3, the company released another notice titled “It Was Us”, after testing of unopened bottles of raw milk found campylobacter contamination.

The farm apologized to its customers after the testing and in the face of an increasing number of e-mails from customers who had fallen ill. The farm states it is working on new safety measures, but does not know when it will sales of raw milk will resume.

Unpasteurized milk, also known as raw milk, has become an increasing trend due to the belief that there are additional health benefits. However, raw milk raises substantial concerns among health officials, as it has not been treated to kill organisms such as E. coli and Salmonella.

According to the FDA, sale of raw milk is only allowed in 20 states, and it is illegal to sell across state lines. Minnesota only allows the sale of raw milk directly from the farm where it was produced. The FDA recommends that consumers not drink raw milk of any kind.

Campylobacteriosis is a common cause of diarrhea, which is sometimes bloody. Other symptoms include cramping, abdominal pain and fever, nausea and vomiting. The illness usually last for two to five days, but can sometimes last up to 10 days. Long-term complications are rare but can include arthritis and a nerve condition called Guillain-Barre syndrome where the body’s immune system begins to attack the nervous system. The condition lasts for several weeks and usually requires intensive care. About 124 deaths are attributed to campylobacteriosis each year.

Consumers with questions can contact the farm by calling (717) 729-9730.

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