Health, agriculture officials warn of dangers of drinking raw milk

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 18, 2011

A outbreak of illnesses in Iredell and Mecklenburg counties has prompted state health and agriculture officials to issue a warning about drinking raw milk.
The N.C. Division of Public Health and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services are working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate three confirmed and five probable cases of campylobacteriosis.
All of the affected individuals drank raw milk from the Tucker Adkins Dairy in York, S.C. One of the individuals affected by the campylobacteriosis outbreak was hospitalized.
ěBecause the milk was distributed in mid-June, we are hopeful that this is the extent of the outbreak,î State Health Director Jeff Engel said. ěHowever, we want to be sure that anyone who may have been exposed to milk from this source is aware of the signs and symptoms of illness and gets proper medical attention.î
According to the FDA, raw milk is unpasteurized milk from hoofed mammals, such as cows, sheep or goats.
Raw milk may contain a wide variety of harmful bacteria ó including Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, Listeria, Campylobacter and Brucella ó that may cause illness and possibly death.
The most common symptoms of campylobacteriosis are vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, headache and body aches.
The harmful bacteria in raw milk can be especially dangerous for pregnant women, the elderly, infants, young children and people with weakened immune systems.
The raw milk, packaged in 1-gallon containers, was distributed by courier to families that participated in a milk club.
State health officials recommend discarding any milk or milk products that may have come from Tucker Adkins Dairy/
ěThe sale of raw milk for human consumption is illegal in North Carolina,î said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. ěEven though the purchase of raw milk is legal in South Carolina, transporting unpasteurized milk in final package form across any state lines to sell or distribute for human consumption is against the law.î
Pasteurization, which involves heating food to a specific temperature for a definite length of time, and then cooling it immediately, slows microbial growth in food. It is a reliable method for eliminating harmful bacteria from milk, and is the only method used in the United States.