FDA warns consumers not to drink raw milk from specific dairy due to campylobacateriosis outbreak
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FDA warns consumers not to drink raw milk from specific dairy due to campylobacateriosis outbreak

Sacramento : CA : USA | Jul 31, 2011 at 2:07 PM PDT
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The FDA is warning consumers not to drink raw milk from Tucker Adkins Dairy of York, S.C. Check out the July 16, 2011 news release, Foodborne Outbreak Associated With Raw Milk From Tucker Adkins Dairy. This milk product comes from a dairy in North Carolina, where it is illegal to distribute raw milk in final package form for direct human consumption in interstate commerce. Three confirmed cases and five probable cases of campylobacteriosis in North Carolina are associated with raw milk from Tucker Adkins Dairy.

Campylobacter is one of the most common causes of diarrheal illness in the United States. What can Sacramento consumers learn from this latest news? There has been a history of various types of bacteria outbreaks causing illnesses in the past because companies did not test their raw milk under the microscope before turning it into dairy products. Retail sale of raw milk for human consumption is also illegal in North Carolina. But in Sacramento, you can buy raw milk, raw milk cheeses, and raw quephor in some health food stores and food markets here.

What people who package and distribute raw milk have to look for in the milk are pathogens harmful to human health, including Salmonella, E. coli, Campylobacter, Tuberculosis, Listeria, Diphtheria and Brucella. People buying raw milk here need to know what's in the raw milk. At least those who are pregnant or elderly with low immunity can know what they face when drinking raw milk.

The FDA is working with officials in North Carolina and South Carolina to investigate an outbreak of campylobacteriosis in three people who consumed raw milk from Tucker Adkins Dairy in York, S.C. The three confirmed cases and another five probable cases are from three different households and each case reports that prior to becoming ill they consumed raw milk that was obtained from Tucker Adkins Dairy on June 14, 2011. The onset of illness in these cases occurred in mid June. One person was hospitalized.

On one hand, you have many people in Sacramento who want to drink raw milk. On the other hand you have the FDA recommending that consumers only drink pasteurized milk. And you have the holistic health enthusiasts telling you that drinking pasteurized milk is not as healthy as drinking raw milk because the heating process destroys the phosphatase in the milk that you need for the absorption of calcium. So who do you believe? See the site, Pasteurization is root cause of people becoming sick. And see the other side, Pasteurization doesn't cut down the nutritional values of raw milk. Also see the articles, Which do you choose? A Comparison of pasteurized and raw milk, and WHISTLEBLOWERS - Pasteurization is root cause of people becoming sick.

According to the CDC, raw milk is unpasteurized milk from hoofed mammals, such as cows, sheep, or goats. Raw milk may contain a wide variety of harmful bacteria – including Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, Listeria, Campylobacter and Brucella -- that may cause illness and possibly death. Public health authorities, including FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have expressed concerns about the hazards of drinking raw milk for decades.

Symptoms of illness caused by various bacteria commonly found in raw milk may include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, headache and body ache. Most healthy individuals recover quickly from illness caused by raw milk. However, some people may have more severe illness, and the harmful bacteria in raw milk can be especially dangerous for pregnant women, the elderly, infants, young children and people with weakened immune systems.

If consumers of raw milk are experiencing one or more of these symptoms after consuming raw milk or food products made from raw milk, they should contact their health care provider immediately. Since 1987, the FDA has required all milk packaged for human consumption to be pasteurized before being delivered for introduction into interstate commerce. Pasteurization, a process that heats milk to a specific temperature for a set period of time, kills bacteria responsible for diseases, such as listeriosis, salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, diphtheria and brucellosis. FDA's pasteurization requirement also applies to other milk products, with the exception of a few aged cheeses.

From 1998 to 2008, 85 outbreaks of human infections resulting from consumption of raw milk were reported to CDC. These outbreaks included a total of 1,614 reported illnesses, 187 hospitalizations and 2 deaths. Because not all cases of foodborne illness are recognized and reported, the actual number of illnesses associated with raw milk likely is greater.

Proponents of drinking raw milk often claim that raw milk is more nutritious than pasteurized milk and that raw milk is inherently antimicrobial, thus making pasteurization unnecessary. The government's stance is that there is no meaningful nutritional difference between pasteurized and raw milk, and raw milk does not contain compounds that will kill harmful bacteria.

Campylobacteriosis's symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, often mistaken for "stomach flu"

Most people who become ill with campylobacteriosis get diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever within two to five days after exposure to the organism. The diarrhea may be bloody and can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Most people who get campylobacteriosis recover completely within two to five days, although sometimes recovery can take up to 10 days.

This bacteria can turn on an autoimmune disease. Rarely, campylobacter infection results in long-term consequences. Some people develop arthritis. Others may develop a rare disease called Guillain-Barre syndrome that affects the nerves of the body beginning several weeks after the diarrheal illness. This occurs when a person's immune system is "triggered" to attack the body's own nerves resulting in paralysis that lasts several weeks and usually requires intensive care, according to the CDC. It is estimated that approximately one in every 1,000 reported campylobacter illnesses leads to Guillain-Barre syndrome. As many as 40% of Guillain-Barre syndrome cases in this country may be triggered by campylobacteriosis.

This Bacteria Causes Most of the Diarrhea in the US

Campylobacter is one of the most common causes of diarrheal illness in the United States. The organism is isolated from infants and young adults more frequently than from persons in other age groups and from males more frequently than females. Although campylobacter does not commonly cause death, it has been estimated that approximately 124 persons with campylobacter infections die each year.

To prevent this disease, the FDA recommends that consumers only drink pasteurized milk, and those who may have raw milk produced by Tucker Adkins Dairy should dispose of that product. The raw milk associated with the illness was in one-gallon containers and was distributed in North Carolina by a courier. It is unknown whether the raw milk may have been distributed in other states.

Do you belong to a raw milk club? Raw milk is sometimes distributed in North Carolina via independent or informal "milk clubs," though it may be distributed through other means as well. The cases in this investigation report receiving raw milk twice a month from a courier who delivered the milk from South Carolina. While it is believed the full distribution by this courier is limited, this information is not fully understood at this time. It is unknown whether any of the milk in question ended up in Sacramento.

FDA, according to its press release, currently is investigating the problem in collaboration with the North Carolina Division of Public Health and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. The investigation is ongoing. The FDA is also working with state authorities to take appropriate action to address any product that may be remaining on the market. For further information, check out the sites, FDA: Raw Milk May Pose Health Risk, CDC: Food Safety and Raw Milk, and What is Campylobacter?

When Raw Milk Killed People in Los Angeles, CA back in 1985. Was it listeria?

Did raw milk really kill all those people in Los Angeles in 1985? Or was it listeria bacteria? And should that be a lesson for all raw milk product manufacturers to check for listeria in their milk products before turning the raw milk into cheese or other dairy products? Check out the December 7, 1985 Los Angeles Times Wire Services article, "Raw Milk Cited in Probe of Cheese Deaths." Also see the November 7, 1985 Los Angeles Times article by Daniel P. Puzo, "Raw Milk Links to Illness Found."

In the November report, an unexplained 300% increase in the number of Salmonella newport cases diagnosed in Los Angeles County in the last several months of 1985, according to the county's Public Health Letter. Since July 1, 1985 there have been 89 isolations of Salmonella newport reported locally compared with 23 during the same period last year. Health officials have not been able to identify the exact source of the most recent cluster of poisonings. However, this particular strain of the bacteria has been linked to raw milk consumption in the past.

In the Sacramento regional area, children were stricken in Tracy. A Northern California newspaper reported that 17 children who visited a Tracy, Calif., dairy in the last month of 1985 became ill after drinking raw milk during a class trip. Several of those who reported illnesses were diagnosed as having camphylobacter, a harmful bacteria linked to raw milk that causes severe diarrhea and other stomach disorders.

Then there were reports in December 1985 in the Los Angeles Times of the listeria epidemic that was caused by contaminated Jalisco cheese earlier in 1985. The Los Angeles County Grand Jury has recommended that the state consider banning sales of raw milk to the public.

Who certifies raw milk products such as raw milk cheese? In Sacramento, you can buy Alta-Dena raw milk cheese at Elliot's Natural Food store and other health food stores and food markets in SAcramento. But back in 1985, the impact of those events 26 years ago on raw milk was felt athave on Alta-Dena Dairies, California's largest producer of certified raw milk. The City of Industry firm marketed certified raw milk and raw milk products in 1985 to Northern California under its Stueve's Natural line.

Nothing is wrong with Alta-Dena raw milk products. And Alta-Dena was not singled out in any of the above incidents. Today, you can readily buy Alta-Dena raw milk cheese in Sacramento at Elliot's Natural Foods and other health food stores and food markets. The point to remember for Sacramento shoppers is that there is a basic difference between the raw milk being discussed and certified raw milk. So make sure the raw milk products you buy are certified.

What the Certification Process Means to Sacramento Shoppers

Dairies making raw milk products such as cheese pay a lot of money to become certified and undergo inspections. The certification process involves greater care in cleansing the cows before milking begins and then ensuring that the milk is kept cold throughout packaging and shipping. The process also requires regular health checks of both animals and employees for the presence of disease.

If you want the primary resource of the 1985 raw milk problem, you can read the report in the Western Journal of Medicine. It's author is James Chin, an epidemiologist with the state's Department of Health Services.

Most Sacramento consumers know that a lot of times the government is going to be anti-raw milk. Sometimes the anti-raw milk stance is taken to be anti-any given-raw-milk-company. The difference is that consumers need to separate the concept of raw milk by itself from the concept of certified raw milk that's sold in some Sacramento health food stores and food markets.

Check the natural food aisles of some Sacramento supermarkets and you may find certified organic raw milk cheese that has been aged at least 8 months. There's a big difference between certified raw milk, certified organic raw milk, and just raw milk from any given cow, goat, or sheep.

If you're looking at nutrition in Sacramento, you need to understand whether the difference is scientifically put under a microscope for a reality check of what's in the milk or cheese and a philosophical viewpoint about raw milk.

Perhaps Sacramento needs to take a poll. How many of you are aware of food safety issues? You can check out the old 1985 poll taken by the Food Marketing Institute, a grocers' trade association, regarding what shoppers are aware of concerning food contamination problems .

The 1985 survey found that 73% of those queried considered the possibility of harmful residues in food to be a "serious health hazard." Twenty-one percent believed that residues were "something of a hazard," whereas 4% did not believe that residues presented a health threat and 2% were not sure, the food retailers' group reported, according to Daniel P. Puzo's November 7, 1985 Los Angeles Times article, "Raw Milk Links to Illness Found."

The news story back in 1985 focused on the raw milk that was used to make Jalisco-brand cheese back then. Scientists thought listeriosis was the cause of the epidemic in 1985 that killed 84 people. The moral of this story is that if you drink raw milk or eat raw cheese, find out how long the cheese has been aged and whether the milk was tested in the first place for bacteria such as listeria and another other similar bacteria that could cause illness and/or fatalities.

You have a situation where raw milk that's contaminated went into the company's plant back then. You could check with the CDC on what the latest news is on raw milk products, now that 26 years has passed. See the 2011 raw milk-related sites, CDC Features - Raw (Unpasteurized) Milk. There's also a CDC article, CDC Expert Commentary– Got Milk? Don't Get Raw Milk! A Cautionary Tale. Also see, CDC and Raw Milk : Food Poison Journal: Food Poisoning Lawyer.

If you look at the history of raw milk, you'll see that even back in 1985 the question came of of whether raw milk actually was the source of the 1985 outbreak that killed 84 people and sickened at least 240 others in Los Angeles? On one hand, you have the raw milk industries noting that people have been drinking raw milk in California at the rate of 300,000 glasses per day. And you have no reports of anyone getting sick from raw milk, per se.

Who suffered most in the 1985 outbreak? It was Latino mothers and their newborn, unborn, and stillborn babies. According to the LA Times article, half of the disease cases had been linked to the cheese. Doctors should have warned pregnant women never to eat any type of cheese while pregnant because their immunity is down and so is the immunity of the unborn child likewise affected.

The question is whether people report getting diarrhea and vomiting from any given food eaten or whether they just endure the two days of stomach problems and move on unless they have to be hospitalized. For example, how many people returning from a vacation with diarrhea and/or nausea stay home for a few days to nurse their "stomach flu" compared to those who report the symptoms related to raw milk cheese consumption?

The Centers for Disease Control back in 1985 and other agencies acknowledged they were unable to find the bacteria in any of Alta-Dena's raw milk. So whose raw milk had the listeria bacteria in it? Back in 1985 there were tests made by a French microbiologist. And the tests concluded that raw milk was most likely the common source of the Listeria type 4B bacteria that was found in Jalisco cheese. But whose raw milk?

Don't Eat Cheese or Hot Dogs if You're Pregnant

Are you a Sacramento woman who is pregnant, craving pizza, deli cold cuts, brie cheese, and worried about what foods might increase your risk of contracting listeriosis from certain cheeses or hot dogs? Some doctors tell their patients not to eat cheese when they're pregnant, and women want to know why. It's because of the danger of contracting listeriosis, that's found in some cheeses. When you're pregnant, you're 20 times more likely to catch a bacteria or virus infection. And if you get listeria from eating certain cheeses, it could develop into a severe infection.

Listeriosis is caused by a bacteria called "listeria monocytogenes." Most people don't even know they've contracted diarrhea from something they ate, but can't recall what it might be. It could be the cheese. The problem is when you're pregnant your immune system is really compromised. It's just one more way your body prepares you not to fight off the foreign invader, your embryo -- you your baby can develop to full term.

When you're immune system is low, you can easily catch the flu when pregnant. That's one reason why pregnant women are first in line to get the novel flu vaccination. But another nasty symptom for pregnant women is a listeria infection. You don't want the runs because the contractions from your colon can stimulate your uterus to go into labor. That's why in the 1960s, most women arriving in a hospital to give birth not yet in labor were given enemas not only to clean them out before they get on the delivery table, but to induce labor contractions. So you don't want to contract listeria.

Watch the pizza cravings. High risk groups for listeria also include older persons, cancer patients, people with diabetes, kidney disease, alcoholism, AIDS, those that are immune system compromised, or those taking corticosteroid treatments.

If you catch a bacterial or virus infection during pregnancy, the microbes will congregate and reproduce in your uterus because that's where there is the most blood pooled bringing oxygen to your developing fetus. It's not only cheeses some doctors tell pregnant women to avoid. It's also hot dogs. Here is a list of foods to avoid when pregnant because of the danger of possibly contracting listeriosis.

When you're pregnant also avoid hot dogs, luncheon meats such as bologna, salami, and deli meats or cold cuts unless you boil the deli meats until the bacteria are inactivated. Wash your hands after handling these foods for others. Wash hands often and always when touching those types of meats when preparing food for others.

The specific types of cheeses to avoid are the soft cheeses such as brie, camembert, Mexican-style cheeses, and any cheeses made from raw milk. Make sure any cheeses you eat come from pasteurized milk or are cooked and melted in a casserole that stays in a hot oven for a half hour to bake. Don't just heat up a pizza to melt the cheese. To kill the bacteria, the casserole with the cheese on top has to bake for a long time such as a half hour.

Don't eat hot dogs because not only the hot dog but the juice from the frank could transmit the bacteria. Wash up anything the hot dog juice spills on. Don't drink the hot-dog juice. Check the supermarkets in Sacramento to see what you can safely eat that doesn't raise your risk of contracting bacterial infections during pregnancy. Infections can spread to your newborn baby.

If you're pregnant and you contract listeriosis, it starts with the same symptoms as flu, plus nausea. You'll get headaches, fever, and lots of nausea. Then the worse happens. Your placenta gets infected, and your baby gets a brain infection or you have a miscarriage.

Don't take chances with food that usually carries listeria bacteria if you're pregnant. Read more about how to prevent this food-borne illness that really hits pregnant women hard at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There's a link on listeriosis there. Be aware if you're pregnant. It's a disease you get from eating food that looks and smells perfectly edible.

According to the CDC, in the United States, an estimated 2,500 persons become seriously ill with listeriosis each year. Of these, 500 die. At increased risk are: * Pregnant women. If you're pregnant you may be about 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get listeriosis. About one-third of listeriosis cases happen during pregnancy.

Also newborns can become infected with listeriosis. Newborns rather than just the pregnant women suffer the serious effects of infection when the mother contracts listeriosis during pregnancy. To protect your newborn and yourself at any stage of pregnancy, keep away from certain cheeses and certain processed meats. Ask your doctor for a list of what foods to avoid when pregnant to protect your baby and yourself from any risk of infection from listeria bacteria.

Frequently Asked Questions from the CDC

What is listeriosis?

What are the symptoms of listeriosis?

How great is the risk for listeriosis?

How does Listeria get into food?

How do you get listeriosis?

Can listeriosis be prevented?

How can you reduce your risk for listeriosis?

How do you know if you have listeriosis?

What should you do if you've eaten a food recalled because of Listeria contamination?

Can listeriosis be treated?

What is the government doing about listeriosis?

Resources on Listeriosis from the CDC

Disease Listing: Listeriosis General Information | CDC DFBMD

Preventing Foodborne Illness: Listeriosis

Multistate Outbreak of Listeriosis --- United States, 2000

Update: Foodborne Listeriosis -- United States, 1988-1990

Case Definitions for Infectious Conditions Under Public Health

Multistate Outbreak of Listeriosis — United States, 2000

Disease Listing: Listeriosis Additional Information | CDC DFBMD

Disease Listing: Listeriosis Technical Information | CDC DFBMD

Prevention Guidelines Titles

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AnneHart is based in Sacramento, California, United States of America, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.
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