Header graphic for print
Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Raw Milk in Wisconsin Sickening School Kids – Shhh!

shhhh2.jpgA few days ago I posted this press release from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and others:

Laboratory test results show that the Campylobactor jejuni bacteria that caused diarrheal illness among 16 individuals who drank unpasteurized (raw) milk at a school event early this month in Raymond was the same bacteria strain found in unpasteurized milk produced at a local farm, according to officials from the Department of Health Services (DHS) and Western Racine County Health Department (WRCHD). A parent had supplied unpasteurized milk from the farm for the school event.

 

Screen shot 2011-06-22 at 5.55.35 PM.pngStool samples submitted to the WRCHD by ill students and adults were sent to the State Laboratory of Hygiene where they tested positive for the bacteria. Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) food inspectors collected milk samples from the bulk tank at the farm, which tested positive for Campylobacter jejuni. Further testing by the State Hygiene lab showed the bacteria strain from the stool samples and the milk samples matched. Additionally, interviews with event attendees revealed that consuming the unpasteurized milk was statistically associated with illness. Health officials said that this combination of laboratory and epidemiologic evidence indicates that the illnesses were caused by the unpasteurized milk consumed at the school event.

 

Campylobacter jejuni bacteria can cause diarrhea, which can be bloody, abdominal cramping, fever, nausea and vomiting. Rarely, an infection may lead to paralysis after initial symptoms have disappeared. Campylobacter can be transmitted by consuming food contaminated directly or indirectly by animal feces or handled by someone with the infection who has not adequately washed hands after using the bathroom.

 

The farm did not sell the unpasteurized milk and there was no legal violation associated with the milk being brought to the school event. The farm is licensed and in good standing with the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Rumor has it that the number of sickened is now up to 18 in Raymond, Wisconsin.  Curious why local and state officials are tight lipped on the source of the raw milk (the farm) – who is hiding what?  And, who is protecting whom?  Frankly, the public has a right to know.  And, it is a good time to show off my raw milk video:

  • Mary McGonigle-Martin

    Is there a video? I don’t see it.

  • Mary McGonigle-Martin

    I can see it now. Great job! You make some really good points.

  • Mary (a different one)

    I see the video. Looks great Bill. Very pro-active. But just like a book I just bought (after reading this interview: A field guide to bullshit ) the folks who need it the most aren’t going to be the ones to watch it.

  • Bill Anderson

    The reason the farm has not been release is simple. The farm is part of the CAFO PMO club that DATCP is in the business of promoting and protecting.

  • Minkpuppy

    They really need to release the name of the farm. It’s bad juju to be so secretive about it, conspiracy or not.

  • Bill,
    Appreciate you acknowledging the implicit double standard here…even though we arrive at different conclusions (per your video).

  • I think there have been several times that raw milk has been treated to the double standard. Re video – Do you dispute that raw milk can be as risky as sprouts, un-pasteurized juices and bagged leafy greens? Do you dispute that the heath claims – especially the “magic” comments are less than helpful?

  • This farm has not been named yet either – who is protecting whom?
    http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/michigan-herd-share-raw-milk-and-q-fever-dont-mix-well/

  • Bill, your questions are difficult for me to answer, because I don’t think of any of these foods–sprouts, un-pasteurized juices, bagged leafy greens, raw milk–as especially risky. In fact, I consume these foods regularly, actually crave them. I find myself resentful that, when I travel, it’s difficult for me to find these foods, especially the unpasteurized juices and raw milk…all because of intrusive government regulation. I’m not sure how these foods compare statistically in terms of risk, and frankly, I don’t much care. I’ve never become ill from them, and no one I know who regularly consumes them has become ill. In fact, I am certain that these foods have improved my health immensely, especially the unpasteurized juices. Most important, I believe the decision about whether to consume these foods should be up to me.
    As for your second question–do I feel that health claims are less than helpful (presumably for raw milk)–I suppose they are in the current tense climate over food rights. Frankly, I think such claims are a matter of free speech, and I don’t especially care if people make them. But they seem to be offensive to some people with power or authority (apparently including you), so I guess they aren’t helping de-fuse the hostility, and may be increasing it. But I find that more sad than repugnant.
    So you can perhaps appreciate why I had difficulty identifying with your views in the video.
    David

  • Mary McGonigle-Martin

    David,
    Even if you don’t perceive sprouts, leafy greens, unpasteurized juice, and raw milk as not risky to consume, do you understand how it gets on the risky list? These are all food sources that continue to cause outbreaks year after year.
    Bill, maybe someone at Food Safety News can write an article on this subject—what makes each of these healthy foods high risk and some data on the outbreaks over the years. For example, with sprouts the seeds are contaminated, with leafy greens the bagged produce makes it vulnerable, etc…
    Our mass produced industrialized food system has changed everything about food. Ignorance is bliss until you get sick.
    Mary

  • Dog Doctor

    David,
    Since the raw milk folks like to jump on several points, I will focus on one point at a time. On the issue of medical claims as free speech. Sorry, it isn’t. False medical claims is fraud. This is one of the issues that resulted in founding of Bureau of chemistry in USDA the predecessor of FDA and the fight against snake oil. Federal Trade Commission is involved in going after companies that make false claims.
    You would expect car companies to make claims of cars getting a 100 MPG when they don’t. Tobacco company claiming they have a cigar that cures cancer so claims are not free speech.
    So again misleading the public is not free speech, just like yelling fire in a theater is not allowed.
    Other items to follow

  • Dog Doctor

    David, on the topic of you have never met anyone who has gotten sick from consuming
    raw sprouts, unpasteurized juice, or milk or leafy greens; if this is a reflection of your selective hearing or a small group of people that you have asked about it. Unfortunately, I having been investigating outbreaks caused by these foods, I have meet several individuals whose lives were impacted by consuming these foods that have been contaminated by various pathogens and had to deal with the aftermath.
    Your defense about not knowing anyone sounds similar to those that don’t want to wear safety belts in cars. They say they have never needed them and don’t know anyone who has needed them. Despite published studies showing that seat belts save lives, they don’yt believe it because they prefer not to wear them. Although their belief probably does not help them at check points run by the police for seat usage nor do statements about their rights. As the slogan goes click or ticket.
    Bill Marler’s post indicated that the cost of this outbreak would be about 3 biilion dollars.
    But back to the point, your failure to know folks that have become ill doesn’t mean that they do not occur and do not have a significant impact on peoples lives.

  • David, I guess my final question is how much is your life and your rights worth compared to other people? I am just interrupting this quote to mean that your life, choices, and rights are more important than others “I’m not sure how these foods compare statistically in terms of risk, and frankly, I don’t much care.”
    Are you saying that if you wanted to smoke Cigar next to me that you should have that right while I shouldn”t or Mr. Marler for that matter?
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2627711/
    Infections Associated with Eating Seed Sprouts: An International Concern
    Documents over 9000 cases of illness linked to sprouts from 1973 to 1998.
    The current outbreak in the EU has nearly 4,000 cases. So how many people are you worth; the 44 dead in around the world?
    Or here are the numbers from CSPI (Citizens for Science in the Public Interest) which probably see as a “puppet” for industry since they don’t agree with you but who are really as much or more a grass roots organizations trying to force the federal agencies to do what is right. This I there current list of dangerous foods (http://www.cspinet.org/new/200910061.htmlhttp://www.cspinet.org/new/200910061.html)
    CSPI identified 363 outbreaks linked to iceberg lettuce, romaine, spinach, and other leafy greens, variously contaminated with E. coli, Norovirus, or Salmonella, and causing 13,568 cases of illness.
    Here is there list
    1. LEAFY GREENS: 363 outbreaks involving 13,568 reported cases of illness
    2. EGGS: 352 outbreaks involving 11,163 reported cases of illness
    3. TUNA: 268 outbreaks involving 2341 reported cases of illness
    4. OYSTERS: 132 outbreaks involving 3409 reported cases of illness
    5. POTATOES: 108 outbreaks involving 3659 reported cases of illness
    6. CHEESE: 83 outbreaks involving 2761 reported cases of illness
    7. ICE CREAM: 74 outbreaks involving 2594 reported cases of illness
    8. TOMATOES: 31 outbreaks involving 3292 reported cases of illness
    9. SPROUTS: 31 outbreaks involving 2022 reported cases of illness
    10. BERRIES: 25 outbreaks involving 3397 reported cases of illness
    FDA has taken action in all these cases just not raw milk; they went after Con Agra for the Peanut butter outbreak, and Schwann’s ice cream for that outbreak. I also know from your presentations that none of this information proving that FDA, CDC, and state and local health departments are going after all foods that make people sick and inspecting all food manufacturing establishments, wholesalers, and retailers. The fact that each Federal employee takes an oath to uphold and protect The Constitution of the United States of America and each employees files a detailed finical statement each year to prove they do not have a conflict of interest. Will not stop you from claiming that raw milk is the only food being picked on and that employees have a conflict of interest.
    And you wonder why federal officials will not talk to you or give you audience when you insist on besmirching their names and telling half truths and falsehoods. Frankly, your comments and actions put in the same category as the worst snake oil salesman of the last century in my mind.

  • “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose…….”
    Given that your freedom trumps all, it is hard to find common ground when the foods that I was discussing do have risks – whether to you or not. I am all about making consumers aware of risks and holding manufacturers accountable who poison their customers.

  • Bill, I completely agree about your definition of Freedom, please keep holding all food producers accountable as always. You are the next Lone Ranger at least for Food Safety

  • Bill,
    I agree, very difficult to find common ground. Impossible at this point, I’d say. If it was about putting warning labels on foods (“making consumers aware…”), I’m all for it. If it was about “holding manufacturers accountable” if people get sick, fine. But you and your followers here want much more than that–you want to limit everyone’s access to the four kinds of foods you listed (and already have for the unpasteurized juice and milk, and no doubt will be moving on the sprouts and leafy greens, seeking more processing and treatments I presume). That is where the big problem comes in.
    Dog Doctor,
    Calm down, you seem so stressed…You make the point even more effectively than Bill Marler when you list all the foods you are worried about. Absolutely correct, it’s not just about raw milk. It’s about unpasteurized juice, sprouts, packaged greens, and all the foods you list. Which food will you limit our access to next? The unrefrigerated and unwashed eggs many of us prefer? The raw cheese? Moves are already under way on these fronts.
    And no, Dog Doctor, any one of us has the right to say raw milk is a “magic food.” It may be a problem for XYX Raw Milk Co. to advertise that its milk is magic. I said I don’t think it’s productive to say raw milk (or any food category) is magic, but you can’t stop me or anyone from saying that, nor can your patriot pals at the FDA.
    Finally, Dog Doctor, you are not taking my food away without a fight. We will fight you tooth and nail for the right to consume the foods that keep us healthy. How’s that, wise guy? And I attach my name to this statement. Who the hell are you?

  • David, you sound a bit like Heston – “I’ll give you my (glass of raw milk) when you take it from my cold, dead hands.” Personal freedom – I guess it works when you get to define it and define all limits on your personal freedom. It might be a problem for others, but hey, as long as you are happy, that is what counts – right? I am reminded of my kids – when they were two.

  • David, you have several people on your blog that regularly attack Bill that do not use their real names as well but Bill knows who I am and my background.
    When it comes to food borne outbreaks, I speak from 25 years of experience working for and with local, state, and federal agencies seeing the accidents, the oversights, stupidity, and rarely malicious activities of different food producers from farm to retail outlets. I have seen the devastation and heart break that food-borne illness can inflict on a family.
    I have also read you personal attacks against different public officials in your blog with an opportunity for these officials to comment or rebuttal.
    Since you are setting the standards of free speech, don’t complain when you next buy a product and it doesn’t met the claims as advertized. You statements say that is okay. Under you definitions, I could say that I am President Obama and that would be okay.
    It also makes it difficult to discuss any standards for food products if you are basically saying it is alright to say anything to win and not back it up with commitment or science so what would be the basis of any discussion?
    You wrap yourself in the Constitution but before it talks about (free speech) amendment one, it talks about General Welfare is mentioned in the preamble (provide for) and in section 8.
    Public Health has been accepted as being part of the General Welfare.
    Actually, David, I personally ( not a government position) don’t care what an informed adult does as far eating, smoking, etc. but what I object to misinforming people so they believe something beneficial when it is not so they try or give to their children and they become sick or die.
    If you had demonstrated any honor or honesty, a discussion about what standards could be developed for providing raw milk to adults with appropriate warning labels might be possible but your insistence that people can make magic food claims, baseless attacks people who work in the public interest makes it impossible to have a serious dialogue

  • Dog Doctor,
    “If you had demonstrated any honor or honesty, a discussion about what standards could be developed for providing raw milk to adults with appropriate warning labels might be possible…”
    Don’t flatter yourself. A discussion with your likes was never possible.
    Bill,
    Sticks and stones will break my bones…