Screen Shot 2011-07-31 at 2.03.02 PM.pngThe Pennsylvania departments of Health and Agriculture and the Allegheny County Health Department are advising the public of the possible health risks associated with products, specifically glass-bottled milk, from Brunton Dairy in Aliquippa, Beaver County.

Since June 15, five individuals – three young children and two older adults – developed diarrhea and other symptoms caused by bacteria called Yersinia enterocolitica. All five people drank and became ill from pasteurized milk in glass bottles from the same local dairy.

“Until we can complete our investigation, we are recommending, in the interest of public health, that any glass-bottled milk from the dairy at homes or businesses be discarded or returned to the dairy, and that residents take precaution with other dairy products from Brunton Dairy,” said Secretary of Health Dr. Eli Avila.

The departments are working together to investigate gastrointestinal infections in Beaver and Allegheny counties. Illness onsets range from June 15 through July 17. Other persons in the same households also experienced a similar illness, but the cause of their illness was not confirmed.

Brunton Dairy is certified by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to pasteurize milk at the farm. The dairy produces buttermilk, regular, fat-free, reduced-fat, cream, and chocolate- and strawberry-flavored milk, as well as ice cream. The dairy makes home delivery to households in Western Pennsylvania and sells milk and ice cream at retail establishments. The public may also buy products on the farm, and the milk can be purchased for use by restaurants.

Yersinia enterocolitica bacteria causes diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting and can sometimes enter the bloodstream and affect other organs. Onset of illness usually occurs four to six days after exposure, but can be as short as one day or as long as two weeks. The bacteria can cause severe infections and the illness can mimic appendicitis and sometimes leads to unnecessary surgery.

According to News Reports, Herb Brunton, a partner in the family business, said the dairy is cooperating with the health department during the investigation.

“We started bottling milk in 1964, and this is the first time anything like this has ever happened,” Brunton said. “Our first goal is the safety of our customers.”

Hmm, when was the last time you heard a statement like that when raw milk was recalled?  If I am not mistaken, you will have a hard time finding a similar quote.  However, you will have no trouble finding – “the outbreak did not happen,”  “the illnesses were caused by spinach,”  “the illnesses were caused by the doctors,”  “the illnesses were caused by the victims,”  “the lawyer made it up,” and the old favorite, “it is a conspiracy between public health and big ag.”

See updated chart of raw and pasteurized milk and cheese outbreak chart.