Health warning: Recall of raw milk from pure pasture dairies is linked to Campylobacter contamination

HARRISBURG, PA – A public health alert warned consumers to discard raw milk sold under Apple Valley Creamery's Pure Pastures Dairy brand. The products in question have a best-before date of April 3, 2024 to May 2, 2024. The warning is due to contamination with a bacterium called Campylobacter.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has reported a case in which a consumer became ill with campylobacteriosis after consuming the product. Raw milk samples from Apple Valley Creamery tested by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture were found to be positive for the Campylobacter bacteria.

Now you may be wondering: what exactly is Campylobacter?

Well, Campylobacter is a type of bacteria that can cause food poisoning in humans. It usually enters milk, for example through infected cow udders or through fecal contamination during milking or storage. Pasteurization of milk, a heating process that kills pathogenic organisms, is typically effective in eliminating such health risks.

The Ministry of Agriculture has further clarified that Campylobacter is not related to highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A (H5N1). Despite some possible confusion, Pennsylvania has a rigorous surveillance program for H5N1 in poultry and assures that the virus has not been detected in any dairy cattle in the state.

The affected raw milk was sold in quarter-gallon or half-gallon glass containers in several counties, particularly in south-central, central and eastern Pennsylvania. The list includes Adams County, Berks County, Chester County, Columbia County, Cumberland County, Dauphin County, Perry County, Lancaster County, Lehigh County, Northampton County, Union County and York County. A variety of companies were involved in distributing the contaminated milk, from small grocery stores to large marketplaces.

Consumers are strongly advised to discard any milk marked “Pure Pastures Dairy” with the best before dates listed above.

Campylobacter infection manifests itself with symptoms similar to those of severe food poisoning. Those affected usually suffer from diarrhea, which can sometimes be bloody, fever and stomach cramps. Other symptoms may include nausea and vomiting, which typically occur two to five days after infection and can last about a week.

Because it is important to take this advice seriously, anyone who has consumed this milk is advised to see their doctor if they experience any symptoms.

This incident highlights the importance of strict food safety procedures and regular testing in the dairy industry. Although the danger is currently being recognized and contained, it serves as a reminder to businesses and consumers alike of the potential health risks associated with food.

Prevention is always the best protection against foodborne illness. Regular good hygiene, purchasing from trusted sources, and storing dairy products properly can help reduce the risk. So next time you grab that bottle of milk from your fridge, remember: it's not just about enjoying a refreshing drink, it's also about protecting your health.

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Anna Harden

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