Raw Milk Implicated in Minnesota E. Coli Outbreak

A Gibbon, Minnesota dairy farm is being linked to E. coli-related illnesses that have resulted in at least five people becoming sick. The E<"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/food_poisoning">. coli O157:H7 strain involved was a match to several animals and locations at Hartmann Dairy, said The Star Tribune, citing the state’s Health and Agriculture departments. Officials are reviewing other cases that might be connected to Hartmann Dairy.

A child was the fifth person sickened and a toddler, who has since been released, was hospitalized, said The Star Tribune. In addition to the young child and toddler, two school-aged children, and a 79-year-old person fell ill, said the Star Tribune.

“This is an ongoing investigation,” said Nicole Neeser, program manager for dairy, meat, and poultry inspection at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, quoted The Star Tribune. According to Neeser, criminal and civil penalties could be assessed if action is pursued, said The Star Tribune.

Health officials said they learned about the E. coli outbreak from health care provider reports and found that the common denominator across all the illness were dairy products from Hartmann Dairy, said The Star Tribune. “Raw milk presents a serious health risk,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Sanne Magnan, adding, “This risk isn’t a matter of personal opinion; it’s an established scientific fact,” quoted The Star Tribune.

We have long warned about the potential health problems associated with ingesting raw milk and its sometimes very dangerous effects on human health.

Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), raw milk or raw milk products were implicated in 45 outbreaks that resulted in over 1,000 illnesses and two deaths in the United States during 1998-2005. In 1938, milk was the cause of 25 percent of all food- and water-related sickness. With the introduction of universal pasteurization—long considered one of the most successful public health endeavors of the last century—that number fell to one percent by 1993. Because not all cases of foodborne illness are recognized and reported, the actual number of illnesses associated with raw milk likely is greater.

According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), raw milk is unpasteurized milk from hoofed mammals, such as cows, sheep, or goats, that may contain a wide variety of harmful bacteria—Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, Listeria, Campylobacter, and Brucella, to name just some—that may cause illness, even death. For decades, public health authorities, including the FDA and CDC, have expressed concerns about the hazards of drinking raw milk.

Some people believe raw milk contains organisms that treat all manner of maladies, including digestive problems, asthma, and autism, saying raw milk offers greater benefits because it allegedly does not contain chemicals and hormones. This growing contingent says the heat necessary for pasteurization kills healthy natural proteins and enzymes. The FDA disagrees and insists pasteurization destroys harmful bacteria without significantly changing milk’s nutritional value. Of note, it is illegal to sell raw milk for human consumption in 22 states. The other states allow raw milk sales within their borders; the FDA bans sales across state lines.

Since 1987, the FDA has required all milk packaged for human consumption to be pasteurized before being delivered for introduction into interstate commerce. The FDA’s pasteurization requirement also applies to other milk products, with the exception of a few aged cheeses.

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