Unpasteurized, “raw” milk from the Martin Yoder Farm should be immediately discarded because it is contaminated with Campylobacter jejuni bacteria. New York officials have prohibited the farm from selling raw milk until further notice.

The farm immediately stopped selling the unpasteurized milk on Sept. 13 when state officials notified the owner of a preliminary positive test for the pathogen. However, there is concern people may still have unused portions of the contaminated milk in their homes.

Specifically, consumers in Orleans County and other counties near the Martin Yoder Farm in Medina, NY, are urged to discard any raw milk they have on hand that came from the dairy. Also, anyone who has consumed any unpasteurized milk from the farm recently and developed symptoms of Campylobacter infection should immediately seek medical treatment and tell their doctors of the exposure to the pathogen.

“Symptoms typically develop within two to five days after exposure and include abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever and malaise. These symptoms generally last about seven days but Campylobacter jejuni has been linked to incidents of Guillain-Barre syndrome, which may occur weeks after exposure,” according to a Monday health alert issued by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

As of Monday, no illnesses had been confirmed in relation to the unpasteurized milk from the Martin Yoder Farm, which is about halfway between Rochester and Niagara Falls.

The problem was discovered when a sample collected by a state inspector was found to be contaminated with Campylobacter jejuni. On Sept. 13 the producer was notified of the preliminary positive test result. Further laboratory testing, completed on Sept. 15, confirmed the presence of Campylobacter jejuni in the raw milk sample.

Campylobacter bacteria

“The producer is now prohibited from selling raw milk until subsequent sampling indicates that the product is free of harmful bacteria,” according to the state health alert.

A standing warning from the New York health department — which has also been the position of federal health officials and virtually all other state health departments for decades — was reiterated in Monday’s alert.

“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. Pasteurization kills the bacteria responsible for numerous illnesses and diseases such as listeriosis, salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, diphtheria and brucellosis,” according to the New York health alert.

“Pasteurization of milk is recognized internationally as an effective means of preventing outbreaks of foodborne illnesses, including campylobacteriosis.”

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