Inspectors have found Listeria monocytogenes in raw milk from a Pennsylvania dairy, prompting Pennsylvania officials to urge consumers to immediately discard any of the unpasteurized milk bought recently.
Routine state testing revealed the bacterial contamination in raw milk from Fertile Valley Farm of Honesdale, PA. The Wayne County dairy posted a notice about the contamination on social media, according to the March 2 public warning from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
The dairy operators sold the implicated unpasteurized milk directly from their farm between Feb. 21 and March 1. Fertile Valley Farm raw milk purchased between those dates should immediately be thrown away. Any containers or storage areas, such as refrigerators, should be throughly washed and sanitized.
“Milk was sold directly from the farm in plastic gallon, half gallon, and quart containers with the Fertile Valley Farm label. The farm has discarded all remaining milk,” the state agriculture department reported.
“No reported illnesses have been attributed to the product, but anyone who consumed the milk and become ill should consult their physician.”
Anyone who drank the milk — or served it to children or others — should monitor themselves for listeriosis symptoms for 70 days after consuming the unpasteurized milk. They should also urge those they served the milk to watch for symptoms.
“Listeriosis symptoms include fever, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhea,” according to the agriculture department notice. “The illness mainly affects pregnant women, newborns, the elderly and adults with impaired immune systems. It can result in miscarriage, premature delivery, serious infection or stillbirth, if a pregnant woman became infected.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has a standing warning about the dangers of contracting infections, viruses and parasites from raw milk. In addition to those listed by the Pennsylvania officials, the CDC reports its data shows that children younger than 5 are a high-risk group because their immune systems are not fully developed.
Pennsylvania officials warned consumers on Feb. 15 that they should immediately discard all raw milk from Conoco View Dairy because it was contaminated with Campylobacter, which can cause serious infections and is killed by pasteurization.
As of Feb. 26, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture had not received any reports of confirmed Campylobacter infections in connection with the unpasteurized, raw milk from the Perry County dairy, said a department spokeswoman.
All of the implicated milk from Conoco View Dairy was labeled with a sell-by date of Feb. 16.
While it is unlikely people still have any of the Conoco unpasteurized milk in their homes, the state warned that consumers should monitor themselves and children who drank the milk for symptoms of Campylobacter infection. It can take several days after exposure for symptoms to develop.
They include diarrhea, which can range from mild to severe and can be bloody, fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, headache and muscle pain.
Campylobacter infections are particularly dangerous for children, especially those younger than 5, according to the CDC and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
“In the years 2007 to 2011, 15 raw milk-related outbreaks were reported in Pennsylvania; 233 persons were confirmed with illness as a result of these outbreaks and 11 were hospitalized,” according to a report from the state health department.
“During this time, only one outbreak associated with pasteurized milk was reported; 16 persons with confirmed illness were identified.”
In the referenced raw milk outbreaks, 45 percent of the victims were younger than 18, and 17 percent were younger than 5, according to the Pennsylvania report.
“This is very important because children rely on adults for their food choices,” said the state health department’s 2012 report.
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