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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Bacteria That Caused Illnesses Among School Event Attendees Matches Strain Found In Unpasteurized Milk From Local Farm – Campylobacter

From a Press Release

Screen shot 2011-06-17 at 3.13.32 PM.pngLaboratory 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 2011-06-17 at 3.13.52 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.

For more information about the pros and cons of raw milk, see Real Raw Milk Facts.  See potential complications of a Campylobacter infection – Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

  • Mary

    Wow. Do humans have no learning curves?

    Thanks for following up on this, I was just wondering what the outcome was. And boy will I be careful at local events with unknown sourcing–especially the organic/foodie type events. It really never occurred to me that someone would do that to kids.

  • There is likely a violation of the Richard B. Russell School Lunch Act that requires a school participating in the school lunch program to have HACCP. HACCP would have ruled out serving raw milk to students. Unfortunatley no agency is enfiorcing this rule specifically enacted to prevent school related outbreaks of FBI.

  • Minkpuppy

    Screaming begins in 3…2…1…

  • Truth

    The Truth says that it is “interesting” that the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) food inspectors were the ones who collected milk samples from the bulk tank at the farm, which supposedly tested positive for Campylobacter jejuni. This is the same bureaucracy that is currently being sued by raw milk producers to be able to sell raw milk without DATCP persecution.
    What a convenient opportunity presented to the DATCP to bolster their position! This is also
    ” interesting” because this happens at a time when a Raw Milk Bill is being considered by the state legislature. It seems that it is just as likely that the evidence is as tainted as the milk.
    The Truth is that campylobacter is caused by human negligence, not because there is something inherently dangerous about raw milk or food. How many times must people be told to wash their hands after touching feces. If it really was the milk, it was caused by a human contaminating it with human or animal feces.
    While contaminated drinking water and unpasteurized milk provide an efficient means for distribution of the bacteria, contaminated food is a major source of isolated infections, with incorrectly prepared meat and poultry normally the source of the bacteria.
    The Truth is that DATCP has a lot to gain by this story actually being true between the lawsuit and the Raw Milk Bill. Can raw milk be a carrier of this bacteria? Absolutely. But so can anything else contaminated by feces, which is why I believe the story itself has its own issue of ” fecal contamination.”

  • Mary

    The best thing about the internet is you can watch conspiracy theories develop in real time now! It used to be a shady looking guy on the sidewalk in front of the grocery store used to have to hand you a mimeographed flyer….

    It’s so funny. And so predictable. If only there was CT-safety unit somewhere to prevent this…alas.

  • Dog Doctor

    “Truth”, you are anything but, try paranoid, tin hat wearing conspiracy theory nut job.
    There are so many organisms that are easier to grow.
    The one thing you point out that is true is that it difficult to prevent fecal contamination especially in a hand open pale milking situation. Since the end where the feces comes out is near the udder. This provides a great reason why milk should be pasteurized.
    Fecal contamination is one of the reasons why water is filtered and chlorinated.
    So “Truth” goes take you fantasies about convenience and its implication over to raw milk pages where they will hail you a hero for your insight. I have known, worked, and from time to time been public health officials for over 25 years, and there is not a more ethical professional group. Every agency that I have worked for required annual paperwork to subtenant the fact that were maintaining a high ethical standards so shove you convenient theory up your tin hat before we call out the black helicopters out and take you to a FEMA reeducation camp.

  • aed939

    As this is Wisconsin, and the raw milk bill was vetoed, this must be a dairy that normally sells their milk to a processing plant. Since their milk is pasteurized, they don’t have any reason to promote safety. Why is the name of the dairy not reported? Whenever a real raw milk seller is raided, they give the name of the farmer and the dairy.

  • I could not agree more that the farm should be named.