The Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture and Health warn consumers that raw milk sold under the Pure Pastures Dairy label may be contaminated.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture tested samples of the raw milk sold by Apple Valley Creamery, which tested positive for Campylobacter. The Department of Health reports that one person who drank the milk became sick with campylobacteriosis.

The departments recommend that consumers immediately throw out raw milk with sell-by dates of April 3 through May 3.

Officials said that milk can become contaminated with harmful bacteria, such as Campylobacter if a cow has an udder infection or manure contamination during milking or storage. Pasteurization of milk effectively eliminates these health threats. 

The Department of Agriculture says the bacteria Campylobacter is unrelated to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). Pennsylvania continues its monitoring program for bird flu in poultry and has not detected the virus in any dairy cattle.

The Apple Valley Creamery Pure Pastures Dairy milk was sold in quart and half-gallon glass containers at the following locations:

Adams County:

  • Apple Valley Creamery, 541 Germany Rd, East Berlin
  • Butcher Block Premium Meats & Seafood, 3055 Biglerville Rd, Biglerville
  • D&S Produce, 888 Bushey School Rd, York Springs
  • Etheric Connections Crystal Shop & Natural Food Store, 1863 Gettysburg Village Dr, Suite 830, Gettysburg
  • Gateau Monique, 5 S Queen St, Littlestown
  • Good Keeper Farm, 250 Old State Rd, Gardners
  • Harvest Barn Country Market, 1924 York Rd, Gettysburg
  • Homegrown Marketplace, Fairfield
  • Taylor’s Greenhouse, 265 Fairgrounds Rd, Biglerville

Berks County:

  • The Deli Station, 845 Woodland Rd, Wyomissing
  • Goose Lane Egg Farm, 111 Goose Ln, Sinking Spring

Chester County:

  • September Farm, 5287 Horseshoe Pike, Honey Brook

Columbia County:

  • Millville Farm Market & Creamery, 650 N State St, Millville

Cumberland County:

  • Basehore Farm Market, 6080 Creekview Rd, Mechanicsburg
  • Oak Grove Farms, 846 Fisher Rd, Mechanicsburg
  • Rowan Tree Farm, 126 S Locust Point Rd, Mechanicsburg
  • Wenger Meats & Ice, 511 E Louther St, Carlisle
  • Union Mill Acres @ West Shore Farmer’s Market, 900 Market St, Lemoyne

Dauphin County:

  • Radish & Rye Food Hub, 1308 N 3rd St, Harrisburg
  • Strites’ Orchard Farm Market & Bakery, 1000 Strites Rd, Harrisburg

Perry County:

  • Butcher’s Farm Market, 590 N 4th St, Newport
  • Daimler’s Butcher Shop, 633 Numer Rd, Newport

Lancaster County:

  • Lemon Street Market, 241 W Lemon St, Lancaster

Lehigh County:

  • Cow Belle Home Delivery, Bethlehem

Northampton County:

  • Easton Public Market & Highmark Farmstand, 325 Northampton St, Easton
  • Johnsonville Farm & Garden, 154 Johnsonville Rd, Bangor

Union County:

  • Lewisburg Pharmacy, 50 N Second St, Lewisburg

York County:

  • Eden Garden Farm Market & Orchard, 810 Franklin Church Rd, Dillsburg
  • Mad Radish Farm, 1991 George St, Dover
  • Main Street Market, 12 Main St, Glen Rock
  • The Markets at Hanover, 1649 Broadway, Hanover
  • Trailside Bulk Foods @ Markets of Shrewsbury, 12025 Susquehanna Trl, Glen Rock
  • Miller’s Country Market, 1140 Abbotstown Pike, Hanover
  • Rowan Tree Farm @ Central Market York, 34 W Philadelphia St, York
  • Sonnewald Natural Foods, 4796 Lehman Rd, Spring Grove
  • Warrington Farm Meats, 156 Old Cabin Hollow Rd, Dillsburg
  • Wholly Holistic, 1150 Carlisle St, Ste 8, Hanover

About campylobacter infections
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, outbreaks have been associated with unpasteurized dairy products, contaminated water, poultry, and produce. People also can become infected from contact with dog or cat feces. Person-to-person spread of Campylobacter is uncommon.

Many people recover in a week, but Campylobacter infection can have long-term consequences, such as arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS).

Azithromycin and fluoroquinolones, such as ciprofloxacin, are commonly used for treatment, but resistance to fluoroquinolones is common.

Campylobacter infection symptoms usually begin two to five days after exposure and are characterized by diarrhea (frequently bloody), abdominal pain, fever, nausea, and sometimes vomiting. More severe illnesses can occur, including bloodstream infection and symptoms mimicking acute appendicitis or ulcerative colitis.

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The Waitrose grocery chain blamed factors outside the control of the retailer and its supply base for poor Campylobacter in chicken results.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) maximum target level is up to 7 percent of birds with more than 1,000 colony-forming units per gram (CFU/g) of Campylobacter.

Waitrose and Partners reported that 7.1 percent of chickens tested positive for Campylobacter above 1,000 CFU/g from October to December 2023.

“This is unusually high compared to our previous results, but the levels of Campylobacter can be adversely influenced by seasonal changes and localized weather conditions, such as unusually damp or foggy conditions, which are outside the control of Waitrose and Partners and its supply base,” said the retailer.

“Waitrose and Partners and its suppliers take any above 1,000 CFU/g result seriously, and our suppliers fully investigate all to ensure all controllable parameters are within agreed specifications.”

Waitrose and Partners results show that 2 percent of samples tested positive for Campylobacter at levels above 1,000 CFU/g from July to September and April to June.

Sainsbury’s, Aldi and Co-op
Data from the retailers covers the second half of 2023 on high findings of Campylobacter in fresh, shop-bought, UK-produced chickens.

The Sainsbury’s chain has joined retailer Tesco in stopping publishing related data.

“The safety of our products is extremely important to us and we have a range of processes in place to monitor and limit levels of Campylobacter in our fresh chicken. We have consistently achieved the FSA target for Campylobacter levels for several years, so we will no longer be formally reporting on this,” said a Sainsbury’s spokesperson.

Sainsbury’s Campylobacter results for Q2 2023 showed that 1 percent of chickens had levels above 1,000 CFU/g compared to 3 percent in Q1.

Aldi has not updated its related webpage or provided the figures when Food Safety News asked it to do so. The latest data from Q4 2022 shows that 1.7 percent of chickens had levels above 1,000 CFU/g.

Co-op reported chickens contaminated at levels greater than 1,000 CFU/g for the first time since Q3 2021. In Q3 2023, 3.5 percent were above 1,000 CFU/g; in Q4, the figure was 2.6 percent.

Results from other supermarkets
Lidl recorded 4 percent of birds in the highest category from July to September and above 2 percent from October to December 2023. The figures were almost 2 percent in the highest category from April to June and 4 percent from January to March.

Marks and Spencer had 1 percent of samples in the top threshold in July, none in August, and 4 percent in September from 376 samples. The retailer also had 3 percent above 1,000 CFU/g in October, none in November, and 3.85 percent in December.

Marks and Spencer had no samples at the highest level from April to June. It also had none above 1,000 CFU/g in January and 1 percent each in February and March 2023 from 376 samples. 

Asda reported that 2.42 percent of samples were above 1,000 CFU/g in the third quarter of 2023 and 3.33 percent in the fourth quarter. This compares to 3.6 percent in the first quarter and 3.5 percent in the second quarter. 

Morrisons had no chickens contaminated above 1,000 CFU/g for both quarters, compared to 2.3 percent from April to June and 2.4 percent from January to March 2023.

Irish situation
In other news, details have been shared in Zoonoses and Public Health about a Campylobacter monitoring program in Ireland and testing results between 2019 and 2022.

In 2015, the Campylobacter Stakeholders’ Group was established to reduce contamination in Irish broiler flocks.

An analysis of 2019 to 2022 data showed a significant reduction in levels in both caeca and neck skin when results from 2022 were compared to 2019 and 2020. Campylobacter was detected in 37 percent of cecal samples from first depopulation (pre-thin) broilers and 30 percent of neck skin samples in 2022, with just 4 percent of neck skin samples from carcasses with levels above 1,000 CFU/g in 2022. 

Researchers said cooperation between stakeholders and regulators of the broiler chicken industry has facilitated a coordinated approach to monitoring Campylobacter levels and implementing control measures. This has enabled a steady reduction of the pathogen in chickens.

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The number of Campylobacter cases reported in 2023 in Austria remained stable compared to the year before, according to recently released statistics.

In 2023, 6,271 cases of campylobacteriosis were reported. This is similar to the 6,295 cases in 2022. After a significant decline in 2020, the number of infections rose but remained below levels seen before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Almost a quarter of the sick people were hospitalized in 2023 and eight deaths were registered.

In all federal states except for Salzburg, Tyrol, and Vienna, there was a decrease in incidence compared to the previous year.

Campylobacter highlights
An increased incidence of infections was recorded in the summer months, with the most cases in June to September. There was also a short-term rise at the beginning of the year.

Illnesses occurred in all age groups, with children under 5 years old and young adults aged 15 to 24, the most affected groups. Men were more impacted than women.

Of 2,108 Campylobacter isolates, 1,857 were Campylobacter jejuni, 238 were Campylobacter coli, and 13 were other types of Campylobacter.

From infections in 2023, almost 10 percent were acquired abroad. The percentage of Campylobacter coli infections acquired abroad was higher than that of Campylobacter jejuni cases. Travel-related infections came from 71 countries including Italy, Croatia, Turkey, Indonesia, and Spain.

According to the antimicrobial resistance surveillance system, resistance rates were extremely high and very high for fluoroquinolones at 84 percent for Campylobacter jejuni and 89.6 percent for Campylobacter coli, and tetracyclines at 52.6 percent for Campylobacter jejuni and 40.6 percent for Campylobacter coli, respectively.

Targeted campaign results
Meanwhile, a recent control campaign included random checks to ensure compliance with good hygiene practices in the commercial kitchens of nursing and retirement homes, as well as hospitals to protect particularly sensitive groups in community facilities.

More than 200 samples were examined for spoilage and indicator bacteria but only one was non-compliant because Enterobacteriaceae and mesophilic aerobic bacteria values were above guideline and warning amounts. Slightly increased levels of mesophilic aerobic bacteria, Enterobacteriaceae and Bacillus cereus were found in four samples.

Another action collected data on how frequently Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) occur in raw pork. Of 97 samples from across the country, Campylobacter coli was detected in one sample and STEC in another.

The prevalence of Campylobacter coli in fattening pigs has almost doubled from 2008 to 2021. Contamination of raw pork with STEC is increasingly being reported in Germany and Salmonella in pig production has been an EU-wide problem for years.

The two positive samples were unpackaged and refrigerated with instructions including heat before consumption. The E. coli positive was STEC O139:H1, which is classed as having low human pathogenicity.

A separate campaign assessed pathogens and hygiene in retail sliced sausages, pates, and cheeses.

Slicing meat products and cheese is a processing step that carries a high microbiological risk. To manage this, cutting machines are treated with disinfectants that may contain quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs). These substances can be removed by thorough cleaning with warm water.

Of 89 samples, two contained the non-pathogenic Listeria welshimeri. Results showed, as seen in previous campaigns, residues of cleaning agents in samples. Quaternary ammonium compounds above the quantification limit were detected in 23 samples.

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According to recently released figures, the number of Campylobacter cases in England decreased in 2022.

Reported infections fell from 55,642 in 2021 to 54,461 cases in 2022, a decrease of 1,181.

Data comes from the UK Health Security Agency’s (UKHSA) Second Generation Surveillance System and the Gastrointestinal Infections and Food Safety (One Health) (GIFSOH) division’s eFOSS (electronic foodborne and non-foodborne outbreak surveillance system).

Overall, 54 percent of cases were male, and the most affected age group was the 50 to 59-year-old category, accounting for 15 percent of laboratory reports.

The region that reported the most Campylobacter lab reports was the South East, with 9,540; however, the region with the highest rate per 100,000 population was the North East.

The number of monthly lab reports followed the same trend as in past years, peaking in June.

Under a quarter of Campylobacter samples in England were speciated by laboratories. With more than 11,000, most were Campylobacter jejuni, followed by Campylobacter coli with 1,243.

One Campylobacter jejuni outbreak affected 13 people, with four lab-confirmed cases, and was caused by chicken served in a restaurant, café, pub, hotel, or catering service setting.

In 2022, 30 European countries reported 140,241 confirmed cases of campylobacteriosis and 35 deaths. Germany had the most cases, with almost 43,500, with Spain second with more than 20,800 infections.

Developing interventions
Meanwhile, a University of Reading researcher has been awarded a grant to study the UK’s most common bacterial cause of food poisoning.

Aidan Taylor, a lecturer in Microbiology, will investigate Campylobacter. The bacteria has developed resistance to some antibiotics, meaning new methods are needed to fight it.

The Academy of Medical Sciences awarded funding as part of grant money that it will share with 54 biomedical and health researchers. Taylor’s work will receive £121,000 ($153,000).

Taylor said the technology he will use to fight the bacteria works by disrupting its genes. 

“Transposons are jumping genes that insert themselves into other genes to create a library of mutant bacteria. Antibiotic treatments are then used on this mutant library, and we measure which ones survive and which ones do not, meaning we can see which genes are necessary for survival,” he said.

“Developing interventions for Campylobacter will allow us to reduce the number of infections in humans, saving the suffering of many thousands of people, reducing pressure on the NHS and the financial burden on the taxpayer.” 

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The number of broiler flocks positive for Campylobacter in Norway increased in 2023 but is still at low levels, according to the latest data.

Surveillance in 2023 showed that 128 flocks, or 6.1 percent, were positive for Campylobacter.

This is from tests on broiler flocks slaughtered before 51 days of age during May and October by the owner or keeper. There was no information shared on the levels of Campylobacter detected.

The action plan on Campylobacter in Norwegian broilers has been running since 2001. The Norwegian Food Safety Authority (Mattilsynet) is responsible for implementing the surveillance program, while the Norwegian Veterinary Institute coordinates it, performs the laboratory investigations, analyses the data and communicates the results.

In total, 2,100 flocks from 505 farms were tested. Of all farms sampled, 83 had at least one positive flock, and of these, 28 had two or more positive flocks. Of farms with more than one positive, 18 had two positive flocks, seven had three positive flocks, one had four positive flocks and two had six positive flocks.

Carcasses from positive flocks were either heat treated or frozen for a minimum of three weeks before being marketed.

Results are within the range from 2020 to 2022 with 6.1, 5.8 and 4.8 percent positive flocks, respectively. The prevalence is still very low, compared to most other European countries.

Campylobacteriosis is the most commonly reported bacterial infectious disease in Norway. In 2023, the number of human infections was around 3,000 cases. Consumption of poultry meat purchased raw has been identified as a significant risk factor.

Grilled food risk assessment
Meanwhile, the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food and Environment (VKM) has published a risk assessment on the health risks of eating grilled food.

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority’s current advice on grilling is based on a 2007 assessment from VKM. To give relevant advice to consumers and those who sell grilled food, the agency asked VKM for updated knowledge on the formation of process-induced contaminants in different food products by different grilling methods, and an assessment of what risk this may pose.

Heat treatment such as grilling and frying can create toxic compounds in the food, so-called process-induced contaminants. In Norway, the grilling season has become longer, the food selection has become wider and sales of different types of grills are increasing.

Findings include two groups of genotoxic and carcinogenic substances, heterocyclic amines (HAA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), being formed in higher concentrations in grilled food than in fried food. The occurrence of PAH varies and depends on how food is grilled. Concentration of PAH is highest in very well-done meat with a high fat content, such as pork ribs and hamburgers.

“We find that for most people, there will be a low health risk associated with consumption of grilled food, but there may be some who grill mainly fatty meat products, often. They should grill in a way that reduces the formation of harmful substances,” said Espen Mariussen, scientific leader of the project group.

VKM is also assessing the public health risk from the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis.

The parasite lives primarily in red foxes, wolves, raccoons and other canines. Humans can act as an intermediate host. People can ingest parasite eggs through contaminated food or water. It can cause the disease echinococcosis, which can be fatal without treatment. An updated risk assessment will be published in June 2024.

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Campylobacter infection is more often of domestic origin in Finland than previously thought, according to scientists.

To identify sources for domestic Campylobacter infections, researchers analyzed patient data from the Finnish Infectious Disease Register (FIDR) in 2004 to 2021 and outbreak data from the National Food- and Waterborne Outbreak Register (FWO Register) in 2010 to 2021. They also conducted a case-control study involving 256 patients and 756 controls with source attribution and patient sample analysis using whole-genome sequencing (WGS) in July and August 2022. 

To target control measures, more detailed information on the sources of Campylobacter infection in Finland is needed, according to the study published in the journal Microorganisms.

Sequencing could improve outbreak detection
In total, 71,716 campylobacteriosis cases were reported to the FIDR during 2004 to 2021, of which 17 percent were domestic, 42 percent were travel-related, and 41 percent were of an unknown origin. Campylobacter jejuni caused the most infections, followed by Campylobacter coli.

Of the domestic patients, 12 died within 30 days of being tested. They ranged in age from 22 to 94. Most travel-related infections originated in Thailand, Spain, and Turkey.

From 2010 to 2021, 31 foodborne and six waterborne outbreaks were reported. In the foodborne outbreaks, 276 people fell ill. Ten were caused by poultry meat such as chicken, duck breast, and pigeon and four by unpasteurized, raw milk.

In the case-control study, more than half of patients with an unknown travel history in the FIDR reported not going abroad. Scientists estimated that two-fifths of all patients could be domestically acquired, indicating that more cases than previously considered, are of domestic origin. They said to identify domestic cases, travel information should be included in the FIDR notification.

Researchers identified 22 clusters and three larger ones had seven to nine cases. None of these clusters were reported to the FWO Register, indicating that many smaller, widespread, or prolonged Campylobacter outbreaks go undetected.

“To improve outbreak detection, we recommend that all domestic Campylobacter patient isolates should be sequenced,” said scientists.

Poultry, especially broiler meat, is an important source of campylobacteriosis in Finland. More extensive sampling and comparison of patient, food, animal, and environmental isolates is needed to estimate the significance of other sources.

Situation in Colombia and Italy
Another study, published in the journal Heliyon, has looked at the prevalence and risk factors of Campylobacter in chicken in Colombia.

Ninety-one samples of fresh chicken carcasses were collected from farmers’ markets and small food stores at seven localities in Bogotá in 2021. Forty-two were positive for Campylobacter.

A higher recovery rate was obtained samples from small stores and Campylobacter jejuni was more predominant than Campylobacter coli among isolates from retail chicken.

Risk factors included poor cleanliness of scales, low frequency of disinfection of utensils, type of establishment, and direct contact of chickens with other food.

“It is important to highlight the need to carry out more studies to determine the general prevalence of Campylobacter spp. in chicken meat intended for human consumption in the country…which will allow the regulatory authorities to establish the necessary measures to reduce a possible impact of this pathogen on public health and also to generate education among consumers for the proper handling and preparation of this food at home,” said researchers.

A separate study provided epidemiological and microbiological data on Campylobacter infections in Italy during 2017 to 2021. Findings were published in the European Journal of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

Data was collected from 19 hospitals in 13 Italian regions. In total, 5,419 isolations of Campylobacter were performed. The most common species was Campylobacter jejuni.

Scientists tested 4,627 isolates for antimicrobial susceptibility. Over the study period, resistance to ciprofloxacin and tetracyclines decreased, while resistance to macrolides remained stable. Resistance to ciprofloxacin and tetracyclines was 75.5 percent and 54.8 percent, respectively. 50 percent of Campylobacter jejuni and coli were resistant to more than two antibiotics. 

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According to scientists, no interventions precisely control Campylobacter on meat.

Several methods have been tested with mixed success. Some showed promise in reducing prevalence in specific stages of production, while others had little to no effect.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) document found effective Campylobacter interventions are still minimal.

The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Meeting on Microbial Risk Assessment (JEMRA) previously released a report on measures to control Salmonella in poultry meat.

The final report on Campylobacter is also available in the Microbiological Risk Assessment (MRA) series. Scientists reviewed data on Campylobacter control, including scientific literature published from 2008 to October 2022 and data submitted in response to a call.

JEMRA met in Rome, Italy, in February 2023 in response to a request from the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene. The objectives were identifying and assessing control measures for Campylobacter in the broiler production chain. The scope ranged from the point of chick placement into producing establishments to consumer handling.

Example methods and effectiveness
Primary production interventions discussed included biosecurity, vaccination, bacteriophages, feed and water additives, and probiotics.

Processing measures covered chemical processing aids, physical treatment such as irradiation or freezing meat, and steps such as logistic slaughter and scalding. The post-processing interventions mentioned were thorough cooking and following good hygienic practices.

Steam, ultrasonication, high-intensity light pulse, visible light, and UV-C have shown promise at laboratory or pilot scale, but their impact is unknown at commercial scale.

Experts said biosecurity measures remain the single most effective tool to reduce contamination at all primary production stages and should form the foundation of any intervention strategy.

Currently, no commercial vaccines are readily available for any stage of primary production, but several potential candidates are in the proof-of-concept phase.

Studies have found differences in the effectiveness of chemical processing aids, reporting factors such as initial contamination, amount of organic matter on the bird and carcass, and chemical application conditions responsible for variation in Campylobacter reduction levels.

Defeathering and evisceration during processing are associated with increased carcass contamination prevalence and concentration.

Good hygiene practices and appropriate training of food handlers in commercial kitchens are essential to reduce the risk of cross-contamination between raw meats and finished cooked products. Using proper sanitizing agents and washing procedures for chopping boards, surfaces, and kitchen tools can help reduce the risk of human exposure.

“Employing a combination of processing effects, including physical and/or chemical interventions, can enhance the impact of Campylobacter control measures. It is common to employ a multi-hurdle approach to reduce Campylobacter contamination in chicken processing synergistically,” said the report.

“While interventions to reduce Campylobacter in chicken processing have shown some promise, further research is needed to identify effective interventions that can be implemented on a large scale.”

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— OPINION —

Here is bit(e) of history:

Organic Pastures Dairy Company (OPDC) & Raw Farm LLC – Started OPDC in 2000 – Changed name to Raw Farm LLC in 2020

Organic Pastures Dairy Company Recalls and Outbreaks:

2023 Raw Farm LLC Recalls and Outbreaks:
May 2023 Campylobacter Raw Milk Recall
August 2023 Salmonella Cheese Recall 

October 2023 Salmonella Raw Milk Outbreak and Recall:
San Diego County—12 illnesses 
Orange County—7 illnesses 

Here is the 2023-2024 version – E. coli Outbreak and Recall:

As of February 16, 2024, a total of 10 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli have been reported from four states – California, Utah, Colorado and Texas. Illnesses started on dates ranging from October 18, 2023, to January 29, 2024. Of 9 people with information available, 4 have been hospitalized and 1 developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious condition that can cause kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.

Public health investigators are using the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that may be part of this outbreak. CDC PulseNet manages a national database of DNA fingerprints of bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses. DNA fingerprinting is performed on bacteria using a method called whole genome sequencing (WGS). WGS showed that bacteria from sick people’s samples are closely related genetically. This suggests that people in this outbreak got sick from the same food.

State and local public health officials are interviewing people about the foods they ate in the week before they got sick. Of the 8 people interviewed, 6 (75%) reported eating RAW FARM LLC brand raw cheddar cheese. This percentage was significantly higher than the 4.9% of respondents who reported eating any raw milk cheese in the FoodNet Population Survey—a survey that helps estimate how often people eat various foods linked to diarrheal illness. This difference suggests that people in this outbreak got sick from eating RAW FARM LLC brand raw cheddar cheese.

CDC advises people not to eat, sell, or serve RAW FARM brand raw cheddar cheese while the investigation is ongoing. Recalled Raw Cheddar blocks and shredded cheese products. Sold at retailers nationwide – Original Flavor: all sizes of blocks and shredded packages and Cheddar with added Jalapeño Flavor: all sizes of blocks and shredded packages.

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The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is warning consumers to immediately discard all Conoco View Dairy raw milk sold or dropped off in certain counties because of reports of campylobacter infections.

The unpasteurized, raw milk was sold in Cumberland, Juniata, Perry, Snyder, and York Counties, and delivered direct to homes or drop-off points in Cumberland, Dauphin, Juniata, and Perry Counties. 

The agriculture department ran tests after 11 reports of campylobacteriosis illnesses in December and January and confirmed Campylobacter contamination in the dairy’s products.

While the source of the bacteria is clear, every specific production date could not be pinpointed. All products, including those in consumers’ freezers, should be discarded, according to the outbreak announcement from the state.

People with Campylobacter infections usually have diarrhea which is often bloody, fever, and stomach cramps, and may have nausea and vomiting. Symptoms usually start two to five days after infection and last about one week. Anyone who consumed the milk should consult their physicians if they become ill. 

Information about drinking raw milk can be found on the Centers for Disease Control website.

Conoco View Dairy raw milk was sold in plastic pints, quart, and gallons, as well as glass quarts. Products were sold at the dairy’s retail outlet at 410 Clarks Run Road in Blain, Perry County, and the retail locations listed below. The dairy also delivers their products directly to homes in Dauphin, Perry, and Juniata County and at drop-off points in Harrisburg, Carlisle, Enola, and Mechanicsburg. 

Cumberland County

Maple Lane Farm, Carlisle

Spring Garden Greenhouse Carlisle

Juniata County

Pallet Grocery, McAlisterville

Perry County

Blain Market, Blain

Leids Market, Loysville

Lighthouse Health Foods, Newport

Skyline Bargains, Newport

Snyder County

Whispering Pines Fruit Farm, Mount Pleasant Mills

York County

Castle Creek, 

Dillsburg

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Managing Campylobacter in chicken flocks and their meat is challenging, according to a study looking at surveillance methods in Europe.

Researchers compared the different programs for Campylobacter in broiler production across EU countries to identify the most promising practices to control the pathogen.

Campylobacter infections are often related to eating undercooked poultry meat or its improper handling.

Findings revealed that many countries test neck skin samples for Campylobacter as per the Process Hygiene Criterion (PHC) set in European regulation. Variations are seen in Norway and Iceland, where weekly sampling is performed during peak infection periods only, or in Iceland, where the limit is 500 colony forming units per gram (CFU/g) instead of 1,000 CFU/g.

The PHC limit is 1,000 CFU/g in 15 out of 50 samples. Beginning in January 2025, it will be 1,000 CFU/g in 10 out of 50 samples in all member states.

Reason for decline uncertain
The incidence of campylobacteriosis has declined in all EU countries, except France, since introduction of the PHC in 2018. However, it is unclear whether this is a real reduction or underreporting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It remains uncertain if the tightening of hygiene measures in slaughterhouses have had an impact on the reduction of human incidence rates,” said researchers.

Data comes from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, and Sweden in 2020 and 2021. Efforts are being made by some countries to implement national surveillance in broilers both on farms and at slaughterhouses.

National monitoring, surveillance and control measures for Campylobacter in the broiler meat chain are not harmonized across countries, according to the study, published in the journal Food Control.

Data in neck skin tests show that less than 2 percent of samples in Estonia, Finland, Norway, and Sweden exceeded the 1,000 CFU/g limit in 2020 and 2021. Rates in Denmark and Germany were around 7 percent, they were slightly more in Italy and Portugal but were highest in France at between 27 and 28 percent. The number of samples tested varied with France reporting the most.

Only Nordic countries have national action plans for Campylobacter. Norway and Iceland collect samples on farms. Denmark, Finland, and Sweden take samples at slaughterhouses. In Denmark, the national program has resulted in the reduction of Campylobacter in broiler flocks and meat, but only a small decrease in human infections.

Country differences
In all countries except Finland and Norway, at least three or four chilled neck-skin random samples from broilers belonging to the same flock are collected at the slaughterhouses. In Finland and Norway, neck skin samples are collected prior to chilling.

Iceland and Norway test flocks close to the slaughter date and when a farm tests positive, authorities implement measures such as logistic slaughter (processing infected flocks last), heat treatment or freezing the meat from these flocks. In Iceland, frozen meat is further processed before being put on the market. 

“Sampling before slaughter enables the planning of preventive measures for the upcoming slaughter of Campylobacter-positive broiler flocks, whereas sampling at slaughter provides only retrospective information,” said researchers.

In Sweden, sites slaughtering more than 100,000 broilers yearly must be sampled at least once a week between June and September. In Iceland and Finland, slaughterhouses can reduce sampling to every two weeks if the PHC has been met in the previous year. Between November and May in Finland, the sampling for Campylobacter PHC can be once per month.

“More efforts should be promoted in the future, since campylobacteriosis is still the most commonly reported zoonosis in Europe, while also addressing the interventions in animal species other than poultry, and keeping the consumers informed about the risks of foodborne diseases related to some domestic practices,” said researchers.

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