I do not drink raw milk, and suggest against it, and I would never suggest that children or the elderly drink it, (see, www.realrawmilkfacts.com for reasons why) but if I did, a guy like Ed Shank of Your Family Cow Dairy might get me to buy it from him. Right now, however, he has a bit of a problem.
According to several news reports, the Pennsylvania and Maryland Departments of Health have confirmed cases of Campylobacter infections have increased to a total of 20 confirmed cases – 16 cases have been confirmed in Pennsylvania and four cases of the bacterial illness have been confirmed in the State of Maryland. Testing of the product is still underway at the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. Testing by Ed’s Dairy has so far come back negative.
Although Ed and his customers ( I think I have received a few dozen emails from them) have appropriately raised issues about the epidemiology of Pennsylvania’s and Maryland’s investigation, I was struck by this recent comment from the Farm’s website:
Many of you think an illness is impossible from a dairy as clean, careful, and caring as we are and have told us so. We understand. We would like to think that too, but the fact remains that we are human and we want to be humble enough to admit that it could have been us…either we personally or an equipment failure.
That is not what I see often from the proponents of raw milk (Mark, I hope you are paying attention?). There are no conspiracy theories by Ed, just a hard look at the stark facts of epidemiology – people that drank his milk are now sick.
Perhaps David Gumpert, (a.k.a., the Pope of Raw Milk) got it right almost one year ago today when Ed preemptively recalled his raw milk tainted with Campylobacter after his own tests came back positive:
All I can say to those in the public health and regulatory communities who snidely argue that producers of raw dairy are in denial about safety, The times, they are a ‘changin, and farmers like Pennsylvania dairyman Edwin Shank are leading the way.
So, more so than anything, let’s hope that the people sickened get well soon. As for the investigation, the facts and the science will win out. Hopefully, however those facts play out, we can move food safety forward – Ed has been a big help.
And, please remember that a Campylobacter illness can be much more than a tummy ache:
Raw Milk Risks: Mari Tardiff Campylobacter Illness from Marlerclark on Vimeo.
See, The Alexandre Eco Farms Dairy Raw Milk Campylobacter Outbreak
Also See, Outbreaks, Illnesses and Recalls Linked to Raw (Unpasteurized) and Pasteurized Dairy Products, United States January 2010 – November 2011