The majority of those sickened in raw milk outbreaks is children under 10-years-old. And there’s good immunological reasons for that. If adults want to take the risk with raw milk, they will, just like with cigarettes and alcohol. But parents generally don’t have a scotch and smoke with their 4-year-olds.
That’s what I told Karen Rowan of My Health News Daily in her report about a report appearing in Clinical Infectious Diseases, summarizing a Jan. 2012 campylobacter outbreak linked to raw milk that sickened 148 people in four states.
The dairy that sold the milk had a permit for selling unpasteurized milk, and had passed all inspections. The farm was among the largest sellers of unpasteurized milk in the state.
The dairy also tested its own milk for E. coli bacteria more often than was required. The vast majority of the sick people drank the milk before its “best by” date.
The only deficiencies that investigators found were that a mechanical milk bottle capper was broken, so employees had capped the bottles by hand, and that the water used to clean equipment was cooler than recommended (110 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, instead of 160 to 170 degrees F).
But these issues were “minimal,” and this campylobacter outbreak demonstrates “the ongoing hazards of unpasteurized dairy products.”
Douglas Powell, a professor of food safety at Kansas State University advises that raw milk not be given to children. “As adults, you’re free to choose. But don’t give it to your kids.”
The people sickened in the outbreak ranged in age from 2 to 74, the report said. Typically, campylobacter infections cause diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever that last about a week, and most people get better on their own. In the outbreak, 10 people were hospitalized.
The dairy immediately suspended unpasteurized milk sales when it was informed of the outbreak.
The researchers recommended that state ofﬁcials consider more regulation of unpasteurized milk, such as monthly pathogen testing.