New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball on Friday warned consumers in Oneida County and the surrounding area not to consume unpasteurized, raw milk from Winters Grass Farm because of positive tests for Listeria contamination.

The Winters Grass Farm is on Butler Road in Sauquoit, NY.  The ag department did not yet know of any illnesses associated with raw milk from this farm as of Friday. But, one of its inspectors took a sample of the Winter Grass raw milk that has turned out to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Winters Grass Farm raw milk Listeria alertOn March 16, the producer was notified of the preliminary positive test result. Winters Grass Farm immediately voluntarily suspended sales of the product. Further laboratory testing, completed on March 22, confirmed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in the raw milk sample.  The producer is now prohibited from selling raw milk until subsequent sampling indicates that its product is free of harmful bacteria.

The agriculture department recommends that any consumers who purchased raw milk from the Winters Grass Farm immediately dispose of it. Consumers can call the department at 518-457-1772 if they have any questions. Anyone who recently consumed raw milk from Winters Grass Farm should monitor themselves for signs of infection for 70 days.

Listeria monocytogenes causes listeriosis, an infection which can be serious and sometimes fatal, especially in young children, cancer patients, elderly people and others with weakened immune systems. Others may suffer only short-term, flu-like symptoms such as high fever, severe headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, listeriosis can cause miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women.

In a statement from the commissioner’s office, the ag department said it is important for consumers to understand that raw milk does not provide the protection of pasteurization.

Pasteurization is a process that heats milk to a specific temperature for a set period of time, a process that kills the bacteria responsible for numerous illnesses and diseases such as listeriosis, salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, diphtheria and brucellosis. Pasteurization of milk is recognized internationally as an effective means of preventing outbreaks of foodborne illnesses, including listeriosis.

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