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6 Campylobacter Cases Linked to Raw Milk from Pennsylvania Dairy

Six people have been infected with Campylobacter in an outbreak linked to raw milk from a farm in Pennsylvania, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said Friday.

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Three cases of campylobacteris have been reported in Pennsylvania and three in Maryland. All six infected individuals drank unpasteurized milk from the Family Cow dairy in Chambersburg, PA, according to the health department news release.

Campylobacter is a bacterial cause of diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, and can progress to more serious illness, such as a bloodstream infection and other complications. For example, Campylobacter infection is the most common cause of a rare disease called Guillain-Barré syndrome, which may result in permanent paralysis. 

The Family Cow dairy sells directly to consumers at its on-farm retail store and at several drop-off locations and retail stores in nine Pennsylvania counties:  Bucks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Lebanon, Montgomery, Philadelphia and York.

The sale of unpasteurized milk is illegal under Maryland state law.

The Maryland health department, along with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, is  recommending that consumers discard raw milk purchased since Jan. 1 from the implicated farm. The milk is labeled “raw milk” and is sold under the “Your Family Cow” label in plastic gallon, half gallon, quart and pint containers.

© Food Safety News
  • Maa

    Why discard it? Just boil it and drink it hot or turn it into panir and whey with addition of lemon juice. If you got a tummy upset, just take some mms or similar natural remedy. Alcohol causes much worse effects but they don’t tell you to stop drinking, rather they make money off your consumption and resultant life damages..This is ignorance and police state subterfuge.

  • Sherrod

    If anyone thinks that there is any kind of police state subterfuge because your local health regulatory is attempting to save your life by suggesting that you refrain from eating food that contains bacteria, then you should probably just go ahead and eat/drink it and put us all out of our misery! There are multiple agencies that tell you to stop drinking, just as they tell you to stop eating unsafe food. Show some intelligence and understand what the real objective is here. Otherwise enjoy knowing your tax dollars are being wasted trying to save the lives of ignorant bafoons that refuse to listen to experienced wisdom.

  • Jill

    I have was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome over 2 years ago. Tests showed I had an infecttion caused by Campylobacter. Sometimes it takes alot more to fix a tummy upset then a few meds or natural remedies. I still haven’t fully recovered and wouldn’t wish GBS on my worst enemy. I say it doesn’t hurt to play it safe.

  • fdaburgh

    OPEN Letter from the Family Cow.. read about the them calling the community and seeing others have had the same problem!!!
    Hello Friends,
    We at The Family Cow have decided to voluntarily halt sales of our raw milk at least for Saturday and Monday. We’ll keep you posted. Read for more details…
    “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,… it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way…” Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
    This week our family faced a food providers “worst of times”…customers calling to say they are sick. We have had several customer/families call to say that have been experiencing acute diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps. (If this includes some of you on this list, be assured our whole family is fervently praying and you have been on our minds all week. We pray for a speedy and complete recovery for you and your whole family)
    Even though we did not know (and still do not know) if the illnesses and our farm were connected, we are concerned. We do not take even a suspicion of food-borne illness lightly. We took action accordingly. Here is what we did.
    We reviewed our last several month’s pathogen testing. All are clean…100% negative for all four pathogens: Campylobacter jejune, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes and Ecoli:O157H7 all negative. Good, but that was history. We, in conjunction with PDA sent four samples of this week’s raw milk bottling off to be pathogen tested just to be double and triple sure. The first preliminary test of those came back today. Again, negative.
    Admittedly we are skeptical if this apparently powerful diarrhea bug we were hearing about is actually connected to our farm or if it was something going around in other communities not in any way connected to us. Especially we are puzzled how it could possibly be from our milk since none of our family is ill. Neither are our partners here at the farm… and we all drink glassfuls of the same raw milk that we sell.
    We made phone calls to other communities to see if they could give us clues. Many reported that the diarrhea is striking whole families in their area too. Some have had it for as long as 10 days before it got better. When we called back to check up on those who had called us originally, some reported that they had heard from family members who do not drink raw milk and who do not live with them who also had the diarrhea.
    So, what do we know?
    There are families who have diarrhea. Some of them have tested positive for campylobacter. Some of these families buy raw milk from our farm. Many families have the diarrhea but who do not buy our raw milk or any foods from our farm. None of our family of 8 or Neil’s family of 8 is sick in any way. Neither are any of the rest of our employees.
    This afternoon the PA Department of AG called and called asked me to participate in a conference call between themselves and The PA Department of Health. They basically told us what we already knew. There are families with diarrhea and some of them drink raw milk from our farm. They acknowledged that some of the family members who are sick did not drink the milk. They explained that this is easily possible because campylobacter is easily transmitted from one person to another.
    They did obtained a partially empty jug of milk from the fridge of one of the families who is sick. They are testing that milk now and the results will not be known for sure till Monday. If the milk from the partially used jug does test positive, the question still remains if the milk carried the bacteria to the household and made them sick or if the sick household carried the bacteria to the milk.
    I’m not being crass and unfeeling here. Remember, we have six children aged 5 to 19 so Dawn and I know first-hand just how careful they are to never touch the inside of the lid with their fingers, never lay the lid on a counter top or table with the inside down, never drop it on the floor, never touch the open top, never let the jug sit with the lid open, and of course never drink straight from the jug. These things are just part of life and are very normal and to be expected, but it does highlight that pathogen tests from a partially used jug are really pointless.
    To cut to the quick: In spite of all the above facts and even though our pathogen test do not show any sign of contamination. We have decided to voluntarily halt our raw milk sales till we get further confirmation to continue. (The state is not forcing us to stop selling milk. They cannot because there have been no positive pathogen tests from our milk.)
    Please accept our apologies for this inconvenience. We are very sorry. I know many of you will be upset since you, like us, depend on this milk. We as a family of course will continue to drink the milk as we see no reason to fear it, but I think you understand why, under the circumstances we think it is best to halt selling for now. We are working closely with the PDA and PDH and we expect to resume sales hopefully as soon as next Tuesday. All our other foods including cheeses, butter, cream etc will continue as normal.
    If you have milk in your refrigerators that has a “best by” date in February, we recommend you keep it but do not drink it till we can inform you further on Monday. If your milk has a date in January, we recommend you discard since it is too old for us to test… we will refund your money.
    Please send all questions to: answers@thefamilycow.com. Because of the volume of questions that we will receive, please do not expect a personal answer. We will read all questions and comments and try to answer all of them in an email newsletter to keep you up-dated.
    If you wish to cancel Saturdays drop point order since we will now not be bringing milk, we will understand. For this communication please only use orders@thefamilycow.com
    Special note to our wholesale accounts: We ask that you pull all our milk from your shelves for now. We will be in touch with all of you as soon as possible on Monday to work out a plan.
    In these situations it is always a hard call to decide what is expedient and cautious and what is reactionary. We have tried to make the best decision. I’m sure some of you will approve but some of you may not. The least we ask of you is to feel our love and concern and to respect our decision in this. We’ll keep you posted.
    Please pray for us.
    Edwin and Dawn Shank and Family

  • Jackie Schmidts

    To the Shank Family: Sorry, I won’t pray for you, I’ll pray for the people that are sick.
    Raw milk should not be allowed to be sold to the general public. All farm milk should be pasteurized first, then sold to the public.
    You can choose to pasteurize your milk and provide your customers with a safe product, you choose not to do this and instead charge your customers a lot more for your unsafe milk products.
    The government should outlaw all raw milk sales, now. What are they waiting for? It is this type of negative press that hurts the legitimate dairy industry through lost sales and bad public perception.

  • Michael Bulger

    I find it disheartening that this open letter questions how some customers could be sick and others who drank raw milk from this dairy are not sick. Any operator who produces or distributes food should have enough knowledge of bacteria and foodborne illness to understand how this could happen. Even more so when dealing with a product so ripe for contamination and bacterial growth.

  • Vince

    To Jackie Schmidts: Your kind of thinking is what is ruining this country, which was based off of the idea of freedom. If you don’t like raw milk, DON’T BUY IT. It’s labeled as raw. Because of your ignorance and non-interest in it, you want it completely banned.
    There are many health benefits to Raw Milk. I was lactose intolerant, and found out that this was due to pasteurized milk. I can drink raw milk with no problems (which I have been drinking now for several years). There are many pasteurized milk recalls that happen in this country. However, you dont hear about this in the media. Pasteurization is needed in big agra farms because the health conditions of the farms and animals are filthy. In addition, the cows are not cared for. Your Family Cow takes great care and pride in their animals. Your comments are what kills a hard working family trying to supply people with what they want. I know the ‘risks’ of raw milk. I should be able to drink it if I want.

  • jackieschmidts

    Vince, my kind of thinking is not ruining America. Your kind of ignorance is the problem.
    It is all in your mind! Raw milk is dangerous, there is no doubt.
    Lets start with the definition of lactose intolerance:
    Lactose intolerance, also called lactase deficiency[1] or hypolactasia, is the inability to digest and metabolize lactose, a sugar found in milk.
    Pasteurization does not cause lactose intolerance, for a definition: Pasteurization is a process of heating a food, usually a liquid, to a specific temperature for a definite length of time and then cooling it immediately. This process slows microbial growth in the food.
    If you have lactose intolerance, there are some very good milk products that have been pasteurized at stores you could consume, one called Lactaid that would provide the safety needed and added enzymes to help with your problem.
    You are incorrect also in thinking there is a difference in quality of dairy farms, size has nothing to do with cleanliness or proper handling of raw milk. But it is documented, in fact on larger farms, cows are provided better care. They have better trained and educated staff, vet services and management. Smaller farms do not stay up with technology, they live in the past.
    There are not as many pasteurized illness incidents compared to the number of those attributed to raw milk sales.
    You can work hard but not smart as evidenced in the Family Cow farm press releases, they admit they were not keeping up with better technology and were repsonsible for making people sick. They should not be allowed to operate as a raw milk farm.
    If you know the risks, then you admit there can be a problem. Your best solution is to go buy a cow, house her, milk her yourself. Don’t have the money or space, the go buy a goat or sheep and milk them instead. But stop complaining the real dairy industry is the problem when it is people like you that spew fiction instead of real dairy food science facts.

  • Vince

    JackieSchmidts: There are risks to every product on the market. Raw milk is not dangerous, humans have been drinking raw milk for thousands of years. Raw milk has various enzymes, live beneficial bacteria, and vitamins. The minute you pasteurize it, you kill the enzymes, bacteria, and vitamins.
    I would love to see your ‘documentation’ regarding that cows fare better on bigger farms. And I don’t appreciate you telling me that I must buy a cow or goat if I want to drink raw milk. Like I said before, if you don’t like it or want it, DONT BUY IT. You are definitely what is wrong with America, because you want to end my right to buy raw milk since you do not agree with my view.

  • Jaysie

    JackieSchmidts your ignorance is astounding! First and foremost, raw milk is NOT dangerous unless it is mishandled by an uniformed consumer. Pasteurization actually kills the beneficial bacteria that is naturally contained in milk. Pasteurized milk is far more dangerous. That is why pasteurized milk PUTREFIES when it is past its expiration. Raw milk NATURALLY sours and continues to be a usable product. Numerous societies existed for thousands of years that have consumed raw milk products such as yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, etc. without consequence. It is the modern agra business practices that have made the corporate dairy industry the filthy, inhumane industry that it has become. I greatly appreciate the efforts of the family farmers that are trying desperately to continue the agriculture traditions on which this country was founded.
    Do yourself a favor and research the subject a bit. While you are at it, take a look at all the news stories about the dangerous conditions on those large industry farms that you speak so highly of. Ever heard of mad cow disease? I have worked in the agricultural industry for numerous years, including a stint as an inspector. What I have seen would make you sick! Family farms are actually held to a higher standard, especially those dealing in raw products. They are inspected and tested more frequently and more thoroughly.
    Please, do your homework before you make accusations and speak to a subject about which you apparently know very little. Bless the Shank Family and the ill families as well, and may they all come through this crisis.