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Regular Dairy Provided Raw Milk to School

The raw milk that sickened 16 children and two adults at a Wisconsin elementary school last month came from a bulk tank at a local farm that sells milk from its 230 dairy cows to a licensed dairy plant for pasteurization and processing.

Ever since the June 1 “Wisconsin Dairy Days” event left so many of its young participants with Campylobacter infection, interest has swirled around whether the untreated milk came from a regular dairy farm or a raw milk dairy.

A copy of the investigative file from Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Projection (DATCP), requested by Food Safety News, indicates the raw milk came from a regular dairy farm selling milk for pasteurization and also supplying raw milk to family members and employees.

It may actually be an example of the sort of conventional dairy identified last year by author David Gumpert, who said some farms operate dual systems, one supplying milk for pasteurization and the other for raw milk.  (Gumpert wrote “The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food Rights” in 2009.)

A year ago last May, in the online publication Grist, Gumpert reported on the dispute within the Organic Valley cooperative over its board’s decision to prohibit members from selling raw milk, which an estimated 10 percent were doing.

In the Wisconsin elementary-school outbreak, the DATCP’s Jill Ball wrote in the investigation closure summary that, “The source farm had not engaged in sale or distribution of untreated milk outside of family and employees.”

“The milk produced at the source farm is sold to a licensed dairy plant for pasteurization and processing,” she added. “There was no retail sale of untreated milk by the parent (who) brought the untreated milk to the North Cape school dairy days function.”

Sales of raw milk are illegal in Wisconsin.

DATCP was brought into the Campylobacter outbreak investigation on June 9, and by the next day the investigative notes said: “So far there is a strong EPI link to untreated milk.”

The investigators also determined that parents had brought the raw milk to school from “a relative’s farm tank and (it) was not treated/pasteurized.”

Ball said one parent  “went to a family member’s farm and collected the untreated milk from the bulk tank herself.”  The milk producer reportedly holds a Grade A permit and was on schedule for annual inspections.

The name of the dairy farm is not being disclosed by Wisconsin ag or health officials. 

“As the farm did nothing wrong, we are not releasing information about the farm,” said Cheryl Mazmanian, the director and health officer for the Western Racine County Health Department.

Steven C. Ingham, the administrator and public records custodian for DATCP’s Division of Food Safety — in a letter to Food Safety News — said that the department “believes the public may be seriously misled as to the public health issues involved with this incident, by focusing on the individual farm operation, instead of on the grave health risks that may be associated with the general distribution of raw milk to the public.”

Food Safety News has 60 days to file in a Wisconsin court for “review by mandamus” to force disclosure of the farm. It would have to persuade a judge that the public’s right to know  overweighs the farm operator’s privacy. The name of the farm is, of course, also required if there is to be any oversight of DATCP’s role as a regulator.

DATCP’s investigative file is sketchy at best. It provides no information on the relative who removed the raw milk from the “bulk tank.”  There also are no details on when the milk was taken, how much was removed, and whether it is routine for relatives to remove product without notice or supervision.

The raw milk was served to 29 fourth graders and their 17 guests at North Cape Elementary School in Union Grove, Racine County, on June 1. Multiple students were absent the following Monday, June 6, and were said to have fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and bloody stools.

Ten of those infected were treated at local emergency rooms or by family doctors, and one was admitted to a hospital.


© Food Safety News
  • Doc Mudd

    The farm should be identified, as should the shady “relatives” who jugged & lugged unpasteurized milk to the school. If they had donated something of value they would want to be recognized for their fine charitable work, right? Either way, they deserve to get their name in the paper.
    An example should be made of all ‘raw milk’ scofflaws. Laws were broken, regulations that were sensibly put in place to prevent just this sort of unnecessary illness. Gotta enforce laws or else evangelizing whackadoodles take liberties, encourage dicey civil disobedience, run risks outta control, injure innocent folks. Speaking of which…
    Farms are farms, cows are cows and milk is milk. What is this mystical “dual system” of which perfesser Gumpert mutters? Is it separate farms, separate milking equipment, separate cows, any physical separation of consequence? Or is it, as I suspect, complete science fiction, utter [udder] nonsense?

  • bachcole

    Hey, Doc Mudd, just because you are stupid does not mean that the rest of us have to be stupid. Raw milk cured my son’s allergies, not 12 years of your degenerate milk from abused cows. If you can’t see that cows healthy enough to live 13 year on average (vs. 3 years on average for confinement dairy cows) will produce a better and healthier product, then I guess you are just beyond help. You go ahead and drink conventional, pasteurized milk if you like. I just insist upon the right to drink what I want to drink, and if you try to take my freedoms away, don’t bitch when your freedoms are taken away.

  • bachcole

    I knew that there was something wrong with this story. Any idiot knows that milk from confinement dairies SHOULD be pasteurized. I believe with my opponents, the people who provided this raw milk should be prosecuted. NO ONE who understands the raw milk issue and is keen about health would drink raw milk from confinement dairies. And to give it to children is child abuse. There is a good reason why milk is pasteurized, if it comes from dairies that don’t give a crap about health or the welfare of their cows.

  • Ted

    Once again the fiction “milk is milk” etc. raises its ugly head. However, anyone who has ever spent any time on a farm and sampled their products knows that individual farms can differ as much as individuals — unless they’re factory farms cut from the same industrial cookie-cutter CAFO mold. In the name of scaled up “efficiency” the quality of farms and the quality of farm products have been severely compromised — with great quantities of watery white stuff (somehow labeled “milk” in the marketplace) as the result.

  • Doc Mudd

    Ted makes the point that some dairy farms are less fastidious than others…farms like the bucolic little Hartmann organic raw milk dairy in lovely Minnesota:
    The plural of ancedote is not data. Milk is milk. Pasteurized is the intelligent choice. The facts concerning unpasteurized milk – from any source – are compiled here:
    Heh, looks like Gumpert’s fictitious “dual system” is more like a dual-axle load of reeking organic fertilizer.

  • Bill Anderson

    Wow! Its apparent that we really have a crises of democracy in this country when civil servants like Doc Mudd are openly spewing industry/corporate propoganda… “Milk is milk”, WHAT?
    No milk is NOT milk, Doc Mudd.
    There are considerable variations in different sources of milk, not just from the general degree of cleanliness and sanitation at a given farm, but differences between methods of animal husbandry, breeds, stage of lactation, feed, region, and time of year.
    It is only the modern CAFO dairies where they attempt to eliminate these natural variations in milk through artificial enviroments, standardized feed, elimination of genetic diversity and seasonal variations.
    The earlier commentors were correct that this dairy is clearly NOT the type of dairy which should be supplying raw milk directly to consumers. It is ironic how DATCP is withholding the name this time, when two years ago (after a similair campy outbreak in the same area) they had no qualms about releasing the farm’s name.

  • Doc Mudd

    Raw milkies can always be counted upon to foist the classic foodie flim-flam: ‘Oh, look, look at me – I am a tres chic foodie! See how very, very special I am!! Trust — trust me when I BS you that food is not food, legitimate science and common sense are obsolete, you will like my grubby flea market schlock better than your musty old money…so hand it over, rube. What? – did I not mention the artistically bruised bananas are local to Wisconsin, hand-hammered by a struggling gnome named Oscar who keeps your picture before him always? Oh, and caveat emptor, baby, caveat emptor!!!’
    Nope, not a civil servant. Not close, Billy boy, not even warm.
    And what “crises [sic] of democracy in this country”? Must be some evil conspiracy, eh (the classic foodie paranoia!)?

  • bachcole

    Doc Mudd, you are personally not really interested in health. You have never had a health crises. You don’t really think or care if your children get the very best and healthiest of food. In fact, you fancy that eating anything is just fine. You shouldn’t burn your bridges behind you because when the pain starts, you will need to get back to health basics. And if you keep persecuting health hobbyists, you won’t be able to become one yourself. Because the MDs won’t be able to help you. They will just say that you are just getting old and that you just have to accept it.

  • Doc Mudd

    Harumphhh. Another raw milk poisoning, even as we endure an insipid snakeoil sales pitch from insolent foodies.
    If that doesn’t just fry your bacon, then your soul is dead.
    Talk sense and truth to dangerous greedy raw milk hucksters.

  • bachcole

    Doc Mudd, we don’t really mind if you insist upon drinking pasteurized milk. It is obvious that there will always be enough stupid people in the world to create a market for a lame product like pasteurized milk. You just go ahead and have your dinner of potato chips and coke and feel confident in your heart that no one will try to force you to eat real food. But, please, while you are enjoying your freedom to eat franken-food, please respect our right to eat real food, if it is not too much to ask.

  • bachcole

    The problem with Doc Mudd’s criticisms of raw milk people is that we have said long before he came along that all regular dairy milk should be pasteurized. Not doing so is exactly why raw milk got it’s deservedly bad reputation. The label “raw milk” really does not and should not mean merely milk that is unpasteurized. It does and should mean milk that is from cows that are treated with loving care that are grass-pastured and whose milk is treated hygienically and cooled quickly and is bought by consumers who understand the safety issues involved.

  • Bill Anderson

    I believe you are the one ignoring the science here, Doc Mudd.
    Do you really need me to show you all the science that has been done about the compositional differences between milk of different breeds, and from animals fed different feeds?
    Here’s a start:
    “Milk is Milk”? Really Doc?

  • bachcole

    Doc Mudd and his ilk are the nanny-state, do-gooding, girlie-men who want to take away your freedom and replace it with their version of goodness. Remember that they know more than you do. You are stupid and they are wise. They are the same ones who have outlawed incandescent bulbs in favor of CFLs. They are really a greater threat to your freedom than Muslim terrorists.

  • Jackie Schmidts

    “As the farm did nothing wrong, we are not releasing information about the farm,” said Cheryl Mazmanian, the director and health officer for the Western Racine County Health Department.
    The farm should have secured their property for the safety of the general public. What if a terrorist or disgruntled employee wanted to really do some damage by tampering with the bulk tank? At best this is mismanagement and worst neglegent!
    These kids became sick. More will too if raw milk is allowed to be sold in Wisconsin! This kind of bad PR is not good for the legitimate dairy industry that is concerned for the well being of their consumers.

  • RLS

    A former neighbor is painfully relearning to walk after being paralyzed from a campylobacter infection from unpasteurized milk produced by a small, licensed raw-milk dairy. The cows were pastured, not confined. Like this post says, only the sale of milk is regulated – if you want to drink raw milk, you’re free to do so. Nobody is stopping you bachcole, despite all your bloviating about people trying to take away your freedom. And just like you, bachcole, my young neighbor made that choice freely. These days, her freedom is limited to a hospital bed, a hoist and a wheelchair.

  • bachcole

    Jackie Schmidts, please make a big effort to not be stupid. No raw milk advocate would approve of giving confinement dairy milk to anyone, let alone children, that has not been pasteurized. Confinement dairy milk SHOULD be pasteurized.

  • bachcole

    RLS, I am sorry about your neighbor.
    Please give me one good reason why I would spend this much typing energy to do this much bloviating if there were no concerted effort on the part of the FDA and the pasteurized dairy industry to shut down small dairy farms who try to market (in some way) raw milk. There is a war going on, and just because you are unaware of it does not mean that it does not exist.

  • Doc Mudd

    Raw milk – just in case you don’t already have enough stupid risky ideas

  • RLS

    Bachhole, thank you for calming down. Since my neighbor got sick, I‚Äôve followed this issue pretty close because before then I had no idea just how terrible these food illnesses can be. What you see as government persecution, I see as public protection. The pathogens that can be in unpasteurized milk and juice can and do cause communicable disease, so health departments have a proper role in tracing back the disease outbreaks to the responsible dairies, telling dairies to clean up when inspections turn up contamination like Listeria (which is particularly deadly to fetuses, by the way) and enforcing the law against interstate trafficking. The only ‚Äúcrackdowns‚Äù against raw milk providers I‚Äôve seen involve one of those three public-health responses — hardly a war. Yes, the government cautions against drinking raw milk; it also advises us not to eat raw sprouts ‚Äì and what has happened in Europe with 4,000 sick demonstrates the reason for such advice. Anyone who really wants to buy raw milk can, even in states with laws against retail sale ‚Äì so why is that not enough for you? But to make this risky product even more readily available would be bad public policy, because the public ultimately bears the burden of increased outbreaks and costly medical treatments. I don‚Äôt care if you drink raw milk. But I don‚Äôt see why those of us who don‚Äôt buy your dubious health claims about it have to share the risk.

  • bachcole

    RLS, for you or the public to share the risk, you have to drink it, and I am not even encouraging you to drink it. I just want the persecutions and the prosecutions to stop. I am with you 100% that raw milk can be dangerous and that access to it should require some kind of limitations to make sure that farmers are doing it right and customers are doing it right and know the risks. My war comment was inspired by the Amish guy in which these morally degenerate government thugs drew their sidearms, on Amish no less. And this is not the first time that this has happened.
    Just because I am softening towards you does not mean that I do not see that the FDA et. al. are conducting a war, and that their motivation is not the public welfare, and that they are anti-biotic oriented rather than pro-biotic oriented when it comes to health in general.

  • bachcole

    Doc Mudd, try to say something intelligent. If only 1% of the people in this country drink raw milk, then the incidence of raw milk borne disease is absurdly small. I don’t see anyone suggesting that we should ban raw lettuce, because 4000 people got sick in Europe recently (where raw milk is vended from vending machines). How come you don’t suggest that we should ban raw lettuce. Now, 4000 people, that is a lot. But I guess that you have your lips super-glued to the rear ends of Big Dairy and just can’t get around to getting a good perspective on the food safety issue.