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KY Health Official Warns Residents About the Risks of Unpasteurized Milk

The Kentucky Department for Public Health has not been able to identify the source of the E. coli outbreak that sickened five children in early September, despite the work of raw milk journalist David Gumpert to bring the link between the children’s illnesses and raw milk to the public’s attention.

However, on Tuesday the department put out a warning to residents about the danger of consuming unpasteurized milk and other food products sometimes associated with E. coli.

All five children sickened in the outbreak reportedly drank raw milk from the same dairy and fell ill within a brief window of time. Four were hospitalized and developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a kidney disease associated with severe E. coli infections.

Testing of animals and milk samples from the dairy, performed sometime after the children fell ill, came back negative for any E. coli.

In the health department’s statement, Kentucky Health Commissioner Dr. Stephanie Mayfield singled out raw milk as a risky food for children to consume.

“Unpasteurized milk is dangerous and has not undergone a process to kill bacteria before it is consumed, meaning it could contain disease-causing agents such as E. coli,” she said. “The health of anyone who drinks unpasteurized milk can be affected if they are exposed to E. coli or other bacteria that can cause very serious illness, but the risk is even greater for children.”

Mayfield went on to outline the risks associated with raw milk:

“Raw milk, no matter how carefully it is produced, may contain pathogens,” she said. “Just as we recommend that you don’t eat raw hamburger, pork or fish, we also advise that consumers don’t drink raw, unpasteurized milk.”

The health department statement also reiterated that laboratory testing has not found contamination in samples from the dairy. However, the agency said that confirming a direct link to any food source can be difficult.

“DPH is stressing the dangers of unpasteurized milk after learning all the affected children had consumed it and because it is a known source of E. coli bacteria, as well as numerous other pathogens that can lead to illness,” the statement said.

© Food Safety News
  • Russell La Claire

    Again, with the raw milk. Again, with the sick children. No chance it could happen to my kid though.

  • whoisoutthere

    So I wonder, if they have not identified the true source of contamination, why are they pointing to raw milk, which tested negative? Is that the only thing the kids had that day or something? What else did the children eat or consume? Hamburger? Any kind of meat or even raw vegetables? It seems suspicious to me to have headlines that point a finger at a certain product just because it was consumed, when it has tested negative for the bacteria. Very much agenda driven IMO. When we going to know the source of the outbreak?

    • That’s not what the article stated. It’s not unusual for the contaminated milk to already be consumed.

      The only thing these kids had in common was the raw milk. If it walks like a duck…

      • oldcowvet

        Coliforms tend not colonize bovine mammary glands. If they do, the result is a sick cow with very abnormal milk. Milk contamination would most likely be transient, sporadic event from outside the udder, therefore the likelihood of finding a not finding a positive sample. That is what makes it so insidious, you can be perfect, except for the one time a small slip, and there you have another sick kid.

  • What is it with the “well-respected raw milk journalist David Gumpert “. That’s the second time you’ve used this odd phrasing.

  • Gordon S Watson

    here is what raw milkd farmer and advocate, Mark McAffee posted on a REAL MILK forum, about this propaganda

    One thing is clear, crystal clear.
    Food Safety News is definitely a yellow journalism rag. No question about that.
    The bias screams.

    The CDC Data itself reports more than
    422,000 illnesses and 77 deaths from pasteurized milk or dairy products since
    1972 ( after review and adding in missing and unreported incidents like Jalisco
    in 1985 ) . CDC data through FOIA report no deaths from American raw milk and
    about 29 illnesses per year. If this is true then how can Food Safety News
    report that raw milk sickens 13 times more consumers than pasteurized dairy
    products. This is a made up lie!!!!!

    When news turns into lies…that is
    when we know we have won this fight. What ridiculous desperation. What an
    unethical and profoundly libel & immoral media group. If I was Bill, I
    would print a retraction and an apology for fear of legal action exposing this
    terribly misleading story. His headline does not match the content.

    I would be embarrassed. Seriously,
    Bill…..this really reaches new lows.

    mark mcafee | when: Tue, 09/30/2014

    • Student

      You have to understand statistics. Yes, more people are sickened via pasteurized products, but that’s because the vast majority of people consume pasteurized products. Very few people drink unpasteurized milk. But, for the sake of the argument, let’s say that 2% of all milk that is consumed in the USA is unpasturized. Out of 1,000 milk-drinkers, 20 are drinking unpasteurized milk. Let’s say that one person who drinks the pasteurized milk contracts a food borne illness, and five people who drink pasteurized milk contract a food borne illness (and I am just making this up to prove a point.) Even though “more” people who drink pasteurized milk become ill, they only represent .3 percent of the pasteurized milk-drinking population, whereas the 1 who got sick from the unpasteurized milk represented 2% of the milk-drinking population, a 5-fold increase over the conventional milk drinkers.

      • whoisoutthere

        But pasteurized milk is not supposed to make people sick…. Pasteurization is the perfect solution no?

    • Aaron

      I see the name Mark McAfee, the same McAfee mentioned here? http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/09/is-raw-milk-safe-e-coli