The New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) on Friday issued cease-and-desist orders to Udder Milk, a home delivery company that has illegally sold unpasteurized milk in New Jersey. State and federal officials are investigating to determine from which farms Udder Milk acquired its raw milk, after a North Jersey woman became ill with a rare bacterial infection.
“It is illegal in New Jersey to sell or distribute raw milk or products made from raw milk, such as yogurt, soft cheese and ice cream,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Tina Tan said. “People should know that, in general, unpasteurized milk may contain dangerous bacteria and those who have become ill after consuming raw milk products should immediately consult a medical professional. Pasteurized milk and dairy products bought commercially are considered safe for consumption, because they are heated to a high temperature that kills harmful bacteria.”
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department’s Public Health and Food Protection Program, with the cooperation of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, are investigating to determine the suppliers.
DOH was notified on Oct. 23 that a North Jersey woman tested positive for Brucella RB51 infection, and she has since recovered. It marked the second case associated with raw milk consumption confirmed in the United States this year. The Texas Department of State Health Services, with assistance from CDC, is investigating Brucella abortus RB51 exposures and illnesses connected to a dairy company in Paradise, Texas that also sells raw milk products.
Brucella bacteria are primarily passed among infected animals. While rare, people can become infected by eating or drinking contaminated raw milk products. A Brucellosis infection can cause a range of symptoms including fever, sweats, chills, weight loss, headache, fatigue and muscle and joint pain. Symptoms may appear up to six months after exposure. In severe cases, infections of the central nervous system or lining of the heart may occur. People who may have consumed contaminated milk should see a doctor right away. Brucella RB51 cannot be diagnosed through tests commonly used to diagnose the disease, and this strain is resistant to one of the antibiotics commonly used to treat brucellosis in people.
From 1993 through 2012, 127 outbreaks linked to raw milk were reported to CDC, resulting in 1,909 illnesses and 144 hospitalizations. Between 2012 and 2016, only three New Jersey cases were reported.