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Bacterial infections traced to raw milk products in Ohio

An unknown number of people have been infected with Campylobacter bacteria in unpasteurized raw milk from Sweet Grass Dairy’s herd share program in Ohio.

State officials issued a public health alert about the dairy’s raw milk products Friday in connection with an investigation into foodborne illnesses, according to the alert from the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA).

logo Sweet Grass Dairy“This alert is the result of an investigation by ODA and the Ohio Department of Health after foodborne illnesses were reported in Franklin County. Later testing confirmed a connection between the illnesses and raw milk from Sweet Grass Dairy,” according to the alert.

People can prevent such infections by consuming only pasteurized milk and milk products, the alert states. Pasteurization is the process in which milk is heated briefly to kill any pathogenic bacteria that might be present.

Raw milk has not been pasteurized to kill pathogenic bacteria and is not legally available for sale in Ohio retail stores.

The Sweet Grass Dairy is in Fredericktown, which is in Knox County, and is owned by Jacob Coleman. He provided a statement to KnoxPages.com, contending all food carries the risk of pathogens.

“Our testing levels have maintained averages lower than pasteurized products,” according to Coleman’s statement as reported by KnoxPages.com. “We are aware of the state’s issue and we are doing further lab work to check the pureness of our herdshares.

“All food has the potential for risk of food borne illness. In fact there is (sic) about 1,000 cases per week per state. It is not our intention nor desire to be apart (sic) of those figures, and we are doing all that we can to maintain a safe healthy product for our private agreements.”

Anyone who has consumed raw milk or raw milk products from Sweet Grass Dairy and developed symptoms of Campylobacter infection should seek medical attention and inform their doctors about their possible exposure.

Symptoms can include diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, nausea and vomiting within two to five days after exposure to the organism. Illness can last for up to a week or more and can be especially severe for those who have weakened or compromised immune systems, and for young children and the elderly.

Although most people who get campylobacteriosis recover completely, some patients do suffer long-term effects including arthritis and paralysis.

For more information about unpasteurized milk and food safety, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a dedicated website at http://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/rawmilk/raw-milk-index.html.

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