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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Dallas County salmonella case, Mary Chiles, tied to consumption of raw milk

Screen shot 2011-04-20 at 8.08.58 PM.pngDallas County Health and Human Services recently investigated a reported infection of a rare type of salmonella that was linked to three other cases reported to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

A 56-year-old Dallas County resident, Mary Chiles, was hospitalized after drinking unpasteurized milk and has since recovered.

Since November, three other similar cases have been reported to the state and had also been under investigation by DSHS.

All four cases have been linked to exposure to raw milk.

“Even though these products can be bought and sold in Texas, the public should avoid consuming raw milk or raw milk products because of the risk for potentially deadly bacterial infections,” said DCHHS Medical Director Dr. Steven Harris.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, consuming raw milk and raw milk products, such as cheese, ice cream and yogurt, can pose severe health risks.

Disease-causing germs, such as the bacteria found in this case, can be found in raw milk.

Two other people who were exposed to raw milk were also hospitalized and have recovered. Of the four reported cases, three have been linked to one dairy farm in Texas. Raw milk sold at the farm tested positive for the same harmful bacteria found in these cases.

  • Bill Anderson

    The timing on this press release is awfully late, and on the heals of a legislative effort. It just makes the health authorities look like they are goons that are playing politics for big CAFO dairy (like the dairy that was caught abusing those animals in the previous thread)

  • James Alberton

    12 became ill from turkey burgers http://bit.ly/fCxdXI

  • Minkpuppy

    Bill A.: Don’t read too much into the timing. The Texas Dept of Health is woefully understaffed and underqualified to handle outbreaks. It probably actually took them this long to trace the illness back. No joke. I live in Texas and it’s rare they do anything more than put out the usual yearly rabies warnings about skunks and raccoons.

  • What is it about the drinkers of raw milk that makes them so damn paranoid? But, then given the number of outbreaks, I would be a bit worried too:

  • Bill Anderson

    What is it about lawyers and bureaucrats that makes them so paranoid of bacteria? Given the importance of bacteria to overall human health, they should be worried!!

  • Dog Doctor

    I have to agree with Minkpuppy on this one. From CPSI’s review of foodborne illness investigations 14 states got an “F” including Texas. The report can be found at “http://www.cspinet.org/new/201101191.html”. It is more amazing they investigated the outbreak with all the budget cuts. It shoudl be more alarming to the raw milk community that your illnesses are causing enough of signal to be tracked down in these lean budget times. See the article at http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/133938.php
    According to the ASTHO survey:
    — Nearly 30% of FY08 state health department budgets were cut below their FY07 level.
    — Almost two-thirds expect FY09 budgets to be cut below their FY08 level.
    — All state health departments that weathered cuts in FY08 expect further cuts in FY09.
    — 22% of health departments expect a cut of 10% or more for FY09.
    — Federal dollars make up about half of the average state’s public health budget
    As you can see by the survey which is over a year old and from my friends in state and local health departments, things have only gotten worse.

  • Bill Anderson
  • Ok, you have one well dressed raw milk advocate, I raise you videos of people who became ill from drinking your magic elixir – http://www.realrawmilkfacts.com/real-life-stories/

  • Bill Anderson

    I raise you this:
    If every food that has ever caused illness were as systematically demonized, and held to the standard that you hold raw milk… then we’d have to drive to the farm to obtain black-market spinach, lettuce, peanuts, pasteurized milk, and a whole list of other foods that have caused illnesses in the past.
    So why is raw milk singled out for special treatment? I don’t know perhaps you should tell me, Bill?
    I’ve never suggested raw milk is a magic elixer, but it certainly has more flavor than pasteurized milk, especially in cheese. Pasteurization is not magical either, there are plenty of illnesses caused by pasteurized dairy products.

  • L.L.

    Bill A. asked, “So why is raw milk singled out for special treatment?”

    It is probably true that raw milk outbreaks receive more attention compared with other niche foods. It is untrue that raw milk receives more attention than mass-produced foodborne disease outbreaks. The extra attention on raw dairy product-related outbreaks relates to the fact that most of the illnesses and hospitalizations are among children (although the subject of this blog post is an adult who suffered a severe illness from raw milk). At the same time, raw milk is specifically marketed to children, and state-mandated warning labels are blatantly ignored by those marketing raw milk as shown on the raw milk blog you link to, as well as various youtube videos and oral presentations by a prominent raw milk marketer around the country.

    Statistically, there is a staggering difference between number of raw and pasteurized dairy product outbreaks. The number of illnesses is higher for pasteurized dairy products, but when you consider the difference in number of consumers, raw milk is still much riskier. Even if there were 10 million drinkers of commercial raw milk as purported by advocacy groups, it’s still a drop in the ocean compared with pasteurized milk. Yet, raw fluid milk causes over 50% of outbreaks (using the same dataset the raw milk advocates use):

    As an example, the proportion of a Campylobacter outbreaks from raw milk compared with pasteurized milk (and even other foods) worldwide is astonishing.


    It is surprising that you and other raw milk proponents do not propose a goal and plan to reduce these numbers, especially if the market really is expanding and more of the product is being given to “city” children, not just farm families raised around livestock.

  • Bill Anderson

    Let’s get the facts straight here:
    I can buy raw sushi-grade fish, shipped in fresh-caught every other day to my local grocery store, even though I live a thousand miles from any ocean.
    I can get unpasteurized local apple cider at the farmer’s market, right here in the city, every Saturday during the fall and winer. (There are no testing requirements, just a warning label)
    I can order a rare hamburger at any resteraunt (this is ground hamburger of dubious origins I’m talking about… NOT a steak, and NOT from a local trusted producer)
    YET, I live in America’s Dairyland, and I must drive out to a farm to purchase raw milk on the black market as if it were an illegal narcotic (risking the dairy farmer’s livelihood and freedom… regardless of if he ever makes anyone sick or not)
    To top it all off — dairy farmers are suffering under persistant record low commodity milk prices, and unprecedented consolidation of the dairy industry.
    And you are trying to tell me that the reason raw milk recieves unfair attention is because outbreaks and marketing tactics tend to affect children? As if raw milk is the only food category whose outbreaks and marketing tend to affect children?
    Why do we even need to debate this? If it isn’t obvious to you by now what forces are really at work in this raw milk debate, then we might as well call it a day and accept that we will never live in a democratic society. Corporate profits dictate the agenda at all levels of our society. Why even bother with all this fuss about creating a safer food system? Its pretty obvious to me that safe food isn’t really the agenda behind this kind of propoganda.

  • Bill Anderson

    Also, I should add that there are some grassroots efforts underway to establish food safety standards for raw milk in America, but this is complicated by the fact that it remains a black market in many states, and there is no way to force a farmer selling raw milk into compliance with these standards.
    The first step towards improving raw milk safety, however, is for the government to recognize that it is a legitimate product that has a legitimate market, instead of treating it like a narcotic. Bring it into the light of day, instead of driving it underground into a black market.
    Unless this first step is achieved, there is simply no way that safety standards will make any headway.
    That is why I say: The agenda here is not food safety. Food safety is just a guise for corporate domination of our food choices.

  • Bill, to save you time, can I just publish this comment and your previous one every time I make a post that has anything to do with raw milk or raw milk cheese? You must admit you post the same thing nearly every time.
    I get it that you believe that there is a vast conspiracy against raw milk farmers by big business and their trusty minions – regulators, scientists and lawyers – and those minions are simply too stupid to know they are being used. Is that about right?
    Of course it could not possibly be that your beliefs are in fact not grounded in reality?
    Perhaps the minions care about public health and all the anti-science, anti-government blather many in the raw milk movement spout make it incredibly difficult to see those same people making a product that is safe to consume? And, you know I have countless examples.
    But, that is just me – one stupid minion.

  • Bill Anderson

    You obviously are not reading any of my arguments or claims Bill.
    As the New York Times article makes clear, science is only begining to understand the immense complexity of the human relationship with the microbial world. There is FAR more that we don’t understand than there is that we do understand.
    This is not “anti-science.”
    It is people like you who attempt to claim the mantle of science to blatantly promote a political agenda (in this case, an agenda of relentless war against the microbial world) who are anti-science.
    Good science begins from a place of curiosity and awe at the immense complexity of nature. Bad “science” begins from a place of hubris and pre-concieved narrow-minded notions about what path human society should pursue.
    I am completely in favor of the former, as I have clearly demonstrated by linking to the NYT article above. But I recognize the latter when I see it. This does not make me “anti-science”, as much as you would like to believe it.
    However, the debate about raw milk is not really about science, health, or about food safety. This debate is about civil rights, consumer choice, and government policies.
    Perhaps you care to address my question, since you have failed to thus far.
    I can order a rare hamburger at a restaurant. (I should add raw oysters on the half shell to this.)
    I can purchase unpasteurized apple cider at a farmer’s market in the city, with nothing more than a warning label (no testing required, at all).
    I can buy sushi-grade raw tuna at the local grocery store, shipped in fresh several times a week, even though I live a thousand miles from any ocean.
    Yet, if I drive to a dairy farm 20 minutes from my house and purchase raw milk, I am committing a criminal act.
    Dr. Ted Beals did a risk analysis of drinking raw milk based on CDC data, in which he showed that it was more risky actually driving in my car to the farm, than it is to drink the raw milk which I will be purchasing.
    So why is raw milk singled out for special treatment? I don’t know perhaps you should tell me, Bill?
    Are you denying that there is a conspiracy of big business to keep raw milk illegal? I can show you the campaign contributions and the letters to the governor from the dairy business lobbys.
    Or perhaps you could talk to this editor of the Wisconsin State Journal, who is NOT a consumer of raw milk, but agrees with me that big dairy is conspiring to take away consumer choice on the issue.
    The Wisconsin State Journal is the official state newspaper of record for America’s Dairyland.
    Do you like being a shill for big business and against civil liberties, Bill?

  • L.L.

    Bill A. –

    Interesting you moved the discussion over to your comfort zone on a raw milk blog. Two questions:
    1) What does the NYT article you talk about have to do with reducing foodborne disease outbreaks and illnesses related to raw milk? It’s a relevant and interesting study, but how do you go from A to B connecting it to practical, real-time solutions to the problems with raw dairy product contamination? There’s noting in your link that would have prevented this suffering: http://www.realrawmilkfacts.com/real-life-stories/

    Seems like you’re just trying to change the subject and not deal with raw milk safety issues.

    2) Similarly, what’s the point of Ted Beal’s “risk analysis” relating to car accidents? How does that translate into a recommendation to prevent future raw milk illnesses and outbreaks?

    As an industry, why don’t you study the outbreaks like this one in TX and try to learn from them, instead of putting all your energy into denying the risks (and paying a WAPF shill to analyze car crashes)?

  • Bill Anderson

    IF the salmonella outbreak did indeed come from this dairy (the details are not very forthcoming at this point), my first inclination would be to look at their animal husbandry, and forage growing practices.
    The last time we saw significant salmonella problems from raw milk was with Alta Dena going back to the 1980’s and before. They followed very much in the CAFO model of dairying, so it is not surprising to me that they also had major salmonella problems.
    The primary cause of salmonella is the lack of green & nutrient dense forages for the animals. Stored feed (i.e. corn silage, grain) from GMO crops grown with chemicals in depleted biologically dead soil will most certainly lead to unsafe raw milk, no matter how sanitary and well managed the dairy is.
    As Bill Marler so graciously demonstrated in his recent chicken study comparing organic and conventional chicken, sunshine and green grass DO appear to make a difference in food safety.
    For more information, read about the work of William Albrecht: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Albrecht
    So basically, the dairy needs to make sure their herd is on pasture, and their pastures are well managed and the soil properly mineralized. NOTE: I am not saying that I know anything about this dairy’s practices. I had never heard of it before this supposed outbreak.

  • Organic Chicken was contaminated. Better, but not great. Of the 14 samples of organic chicken, 12 contained harmful bacteria.

  • Michael Bulger

    I wouldn’t be so quick to assume the organic chicken spent a significant amount of time in sunshine and on green grass.

    Moving on from that, Salmonella does seem to have made an appearance with raw milk between the 1980s and present, contrary to your claim.

    For instance, “Real Foods” raw milk in Utah, 2010: http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-poisoning-information/raw-milk-salmonella-outbreak-in-utah-confirmed/

    Apparently, Pennsylvania raw milk was recalled last year due to Salmonella, as well: http://www.salmonellablog.com/salmonella-recalls/pennsylvania-agriculture-department-warns-consumers-to-discard-raw-milk-from-jersey-hollow-farm-in-berks-county/

    Mr. Marler has compiled a list of illnesses occurring between 2000 and 2007. It shows over 250 people sickened by Salmonella via raw dairy. http://www.marlerblog.com/uploads/file/Table%201%20Part%203%20revised_2%5B1%5D.pdf

    These do not include illnesses caused by other pathogens (Campy, O157.H7, etc.).

    Please, Mr. Anderson. If you are going to contribute so many words, do us at least the minimal benefit of Googling the subject you so adamantly argue.

  • L.L.

    Bill A. –
    You speak like an authority on this subject, yet admit knowing little about the dairy farm involved in TX – you fabricate that they were a CAFO. There is no evidence that feed had anything to do with the TX outbreak or any of the other raw dairy related outbreaks in recent years (many claimed to be “grassfed”). Will WAPF and FTCLDF address this list of dairies implicated in outbreaks last year (raw and pasteurized) during their annual symposium?
    Or, will they preach to the choir about a big Ag conspiracy, and continue to do nothing, and refuse to set a goal to reduce outbreaks and illnesses linked to raw milk and dairy products made from raw milk?

  • Bill Anderson

    I would love to be able to set a target for reducing raw milk illnesses in the next 5 years, but unfortunately, it is something which is far beyond the control of me or anyone at the WAPF.
    The market for raw milk (outside of California) is highly decentralized. There are small producers popping up everywhere, and the market is growing faster than anyone can keep up with.
    So even though there is a raw milk safety certification organization in the works, many of these small farmers will not want to be part of it, if for no other reason than that distributing raw milk is currently A CRIMINAL ACT in their state. If the government or someone like Bill Marler tries to subpeona the certifying agencies list of producers, they will not want their name on the agencies list, lest they be targetted for raids and crackdowns by their local authorities.
    As has been pointed out innumerous times by David Gumpert and others, the health authorities do not care if a raw milk supplier has been responsible for illness or not. The only thing they care about is that the supplier is not beholden to the protectionist racket of corporate big dairy processors.
    As I said before… the first step to improving raw milk safety is to decriminalize it. Unless that first step is achieved, any effort to improve safety will be impossible. You cannot regulate a black market.

  • Bill Anderson

    The raw dairy in Utah was a CAFO. I don’t know about the Pennsylvannia situation.

  • Yep, this is the problem facing public health. There are many who struggle with the whole black market issue and how to bring some level of inspection to be able to assure the public that raw milk is reasonably safe. Like myself, I know more than a few people interested in safety who are constantly attacked by you and others, and who either give up on the movement or get their backs up and redouble their efforts to stop the expanded sale of milk where it is.
    Like CA, here is WA the state allows raw milk sales (retail too) from inspected facilities (hmm, why have I not spent time trying to roll the laws back?). Unlike CA, WA is not dominated by one player. Here the farms are small, organic, grass fed and we still have had outbreaks.
    IMO, the raw milk movement does itself a disservice with all the anti-government rhetoric. It also does itself a disservice in continuing the beliefs that somehow grass fed cows on small organic farms (that are healthy and happy), produce no pathogens, or that somehow magically raw milk produced under those conditions kills E. coli, etc before some kid can drink it.
    You can not expect a serious discussion when you and others spend time questioning peoples integrity and you and others hold on to magical beliefs that are not factually based which include the anti-pathogen claims as well as the curative powers of raw milk. And, the denials that these outbreaks have happened, or are part of some grand conspiracy continue to amaze me.
    Bill, I am thinking of cutting you off on comments. Since you tend to post the same stuff in Gumpert’s echo chamber, I will let you spend your time there. I wish you the best of luck in WI. I am interested in seeing what Scott (Koch Bro) Walker does.

  • So, you’ve cited a website you sponsor* as evidence of fact on behalf of your clients?
    I’d be amazed if you could get THAT past a sober judge!
    * realrawmilkfacts.com says it is “supported in part by Marler Clark,” a law firm headed by Bill Marler.

  • So what if I sponsor it. I assume you mean that because I sponsor it there is a bias? Can you point to something? Really? Think about it, why would I sponsor a site that is trying to give consumers knowledge of the risks of drinking raw milk?

  • Shane

    Bill, I think Jan is a bit confused. It might be seen as bias if the site was sponsoring you. The idea that you support something by both attempting to educate through your blog and also financially funding it just shows me that you’re putting your money where your mouth is.

  • doc raymond

    I must admit I do not follow raw milk blogs too closely because the debate is stagnant and always the same. So now that i am here, I want to interject one statistic. Prior to pasteurization becoming the norm, 25% of all food and water related illnesses were linked back to milk,. Now that number is less than 1% and almost always linked to raw milk. I do not know what more proof I can offer to the need to not feed raw milk to children who cannot make the choice for themselves. We have laws requiring parents to immunize their children, to put them in child restraint seats in cars, and to get them a physical before entering kindergarten because otherwise some parents would neglect these important practices. BIll, we need a law banning feeding kids raw milk.

  • Dog Doctor

    I am not sure what the issue is with the http://Www.realrawmilkfacts.com. If you read the about us page, it lays out who is sponsoring it and who the work group is composed of so you know where the web page is coming from.
    Lets compare web sites (sorry the table didn’t transfer)
    Items Real Raw Milk Facts Pro Raw Milk site
    Advertisements no Yes
    Request for Donations no Tes
    Sponsored by public Health officials yes no
    Provides links to Referred Journals Yes No
    Positions are clearly labeled Yes Maybe
    Provided Case Studies yes No
    Depends on Antidotal evidence No (does have Individual reports) Yes
    ( but does not use these case reports as “science” to support a position)
    IMHO, the real raw milk facts site seems to be more straight forward and is clear about any existing bias it might have.

  • Minkpuppy

    Illegal raw milk sales are rampant here in Texas and the Texas State Dept of Health just simply doesn’t have the staffing or the funding to inspect all the raw milk dairies (assuming they are registering as they are required to do).

    Heck, PCA operated a peanut processing plant for several years right under the state’s nose and no one knew about it until the peanut butter salmonella outbreak occurred.

    I suspect there’s far more illnesses tied to raw milk in Texas but since there’s no efficient public health tracking system in place, there’s no telling how bad the problem has gotten. If the laws change, every Tom, Dick and Sally that has no clue what they’re doing will be selling raw milk from their backyard cow.

    Loosening up Texas raw milk laws shouldn’t happen until they have enough state inspectors to shoulder the load. They didn’t have enough to handle all the state-inspected meat plants so now FSIS has taken a lot of the plants over. Who will take over the milk inspection when Texas can’t do it?

  • Scott D

    As with any other food product, force the labels to inform the consumers the risks associated with consuming the product. Also force the producers to take samples from each and every milking and have testing performed before a sale can be made. I am from TX and this particular farm sends a sample of each and every milking to an independent lab for testing prior to selling to its customers. I believe in food safety to the utmost, but I also believe in the freedom to make a choice. We all know fast food, fried food, etc. is unhealthy as has been proven by scientists, but we still have a choice to eat it. All the talk about pushing raw milk to children, but how much better is it to push fast-food on them as well. Either way you have a chance of poisoning your body. Put the labels on, make the testing standards as strict as possible, and see who will still be standing after it is implemented. Every time I go to a restaurant, I see the warnings, but I still have a choice to make without someone making it for me. Why would this be any different?

  • Dog Doctor

    Scott D. I don’t disagree that you as a well informed adult can make decisions. But most fast food restaurants don’t claim that their meals will cure autism, cancer, tooth decay, etc which I have seen on various raw milk sites. I am fairly liberal on my views on what adults can do as long as they take responsibility for their actions. For example use or consumption of marijuana, tobacco, alcohol and raw milk should be informed adults choice.
    Having said that, this is one of the few times I agree with Doc Raymond that just like child safety seats, vaccinations, etc – raw milk falls in to this category. Many of the miracle claims for raw milk don’t hold up to science, or if you think about it common sense, there are examples
    1) Transfers of antibodies in mammals, antibodies are absorbed from the intestinal tract (gut) for the first 12 hours. After that they are digested and broken down to amino acids like any other protein.
    2) Immunglobin A, the antibody secreted in the gut only survives until it reaches the stomach where it is broken down. That is the function of the stomach and its acids to break down proteins.
    3) “Natural” bacteria in milk, Milk when it leaves the mammary gland should be sterile unless the animal has mastitis. Depending on the teat opening, it may pick up some at that point, if the animal is hand milk, it may pick up bacteria from the persons hand, skin of the cow or the environment especially going into a pale. Also in with hand milking there is the potential for the plop effect since cows will poop when being milk. Machine milking, if clean can reduce the number of bacteria introduced. If you culture a cow’s skin or a person’s skin, you will not find exactly the same bacterial make up so there is no defined culture or guarantee of certain bacteria being present.
    4) Raw milk has certain chemical, enzymatic, or physical properties to prevent pathogens from growing. Sorry no science to support those bacteria will grow wherever they find favorable conditions,
    Kiev S. Gracias and John L. McKillip A review of conventional detection and enumeration methods for pathogenic bacteria in food Can. J. Microbiol. Vol. 50, 2004
    Brovko, L., Froundjian, V.G., Babunova, V.S., and Ugarova, N.N. 1999. Quantitative assessment of bacterial contamination of raw milk using bioluminescence. J. Dairy Res. 66: 627–631.
    Daly, P., Collier, T., and Doyle, S. 2002. PCR–ELISA detection of Escherichia coli in milk. Lett. Appl. Microbiol. 34: 222– 226.
    Hughes, D., and Sutherland, P.S. 1987. Evaluation of Petrifilm SM for determining bacteriological counts on raw milk by comparison with the standard plate count and micropipet count techniques. Aust. J. Dairy Technol. 47: 59–61.
    Niza-Ribeiro, J., Louza, A.C., Santos, P., and Lima, M. 2000. Monitoring the microbiological quality of raw milk through the use of an ATP bioluminescence method. Food Control, 11: 209– 216.
    Samkutty, P.J., Gough, R.H., Adkinson, R.W., and McGrew, P. 2001. Rapid assessment of bacteriological quality of raw milk using ATP bioluminescence. J. Food Prot. 64: 208–212.
    Webster, J.A.J., Hall, M.S., Rich, C.N., Gilliland, S.E., Ford, S.R., and Leach, F.R. 1988. Improved sensitivity of the bioluminescent determination of numbers of bacteria in milk samples. J. Food Prot. 51: 949–954.
    Headrick ML, Korangy S, Bean NH, et al. The epidemiology of raw milk-associated foodborne disease outbreaks reported in the United States, 1973 through 1992. Am J Public Health 1998; 88:1219–21.
    Werner SB, Humphrey GL, Kamei 1: Association between raw milk and human Salmoniella dublin infection. Br Med J 1979 Jul 28; 2:238-241
    Werner SB: The hazard in consuming raw milk, In Epitomes of Progress-Preventive Medicine and Public Health. West J Med 1982 Jan; 136:51-52.
    Given enough time and space, most if not all claims could be dismissed.
    Bill A. I will save you some time. Just check a box
    () – It is a big conspiraspy against raw milk – everybody is out to get raw milk, government, industry, lawyers, etc. Anyone that doesn’t think like I do.
    () – I believe in the magic fluid, and I tell you the story of five friends of friends who benefited from raw milk
    () – I can show you studies from a dead dentist done in the 18th century that proves raw milk are beneficial. The only caveat is these studies have been disproven.
    () – it is not about raw milk but citizens rights