Raw milk legislation gains supporters in Wisconsin, but illegal to sell homemade muffins

An attempt to legalize the sale of unpasteurized milk direct from a farm to consumers has gained some traction in the Wisconsin Legislature, but opponents say they aren’t backing down.

sorenne.doug.muffinAssembly Bill 697 would allow a dairy farmer to sell raw milk, and raw-milk products such as butter and cheese, directly to consumers on the farm where the milk and dairy products were produced. Current law generally prohibits the practice.

AB 697, which now has sponsorship from at least 18 members of the Assembly and three members of the Senate, also exempts dairy farmers from needing a dairy plant or food processing license if the only milk products they process are raw-milk items sold on the farm.

In 2015, state officials suspended for 30 days the Grade-A milk production permit of a Durand dairy farm blamed for a raw-milk illness outbreak that sickened nearly 40 people.

Raw milk advocates say the risks to public health have been exaggerated and the decision to buy an unpasteurized dairy product ought to be left to the consumer.

Wisconsin is one of only two states to ban entrepreneurs from selling cookies, muffins and breads simply because they are made in a home kitchen.

“That means that even if you sell one cookie at a farmers market, to your neighbor, somewhere in your community, you can go to jail for up to six months or even be fined up to $1,000. That’s not only unfair, it’s unconstitutional,” attorney Erica Smith told Wisconsin Watchdog Wednesday on the Vicki McKenna Show , on NewsTalk 1310 WIBA.

Smith is with the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit law firm that “fights against unreasonable government restrictions on individuals’ economic liberty,” according to the Virginia organizations website.

Prove that it’s safe.

15 sick: Wisconsin football team stricken with Cryptosporidium

Milton School District says they now have three confirmed cases of Cryptosporidium at the Milton High School.

north.dallas.fortyMilton football coach Bill O’Leary told 27 News Tuesday he has “lots” of sick kids on his team. Health officials are trying to get samples from those who are ill to either confirm or deny they have Cryptosporidium.

According to WKOW-TV, two community meals among the football players have led to the outbreak.

The health department and school are taking precautionary measures and the high school will be closed for 24 hours for disinfection.

Wasted resources on raw milk: Regulators not pursuing raw milk sales in Wisc.

There’s rules, and then there’s rules.

raw.milk.idahoAnd as long as no one gets sick, it doesn’t hit the chatting classes, and no goes to jail, they’re just rules (sorta).

I’ve always said, hypocrisy is parents’ disease.

Applies to regulators too, apparently.

An Australian prof-type who is traveling in the U.S. sent this picture from Idaho today, another state of many grappling with the ambition and angst of sick people.

Approaching summer, when city dwellers often seek fresh food from area farms, Wisconsin state regulators say they’re not aggressively pursuing cases against farmers who illegally sell raw, unpasteurized milk to the public, but the laws are still in place.

“Some people are simply willing to take their chances with the authorities…while others are quite deep in the underground. Certainly I will protect my farmer,” said Margo Redmond of Madison, a board member of the Wisconsin Raw Milk Association.

Wisconsin has been at the center of a national controversy over raw milk sales. That’s partly because of the trial of Loganville farmer Vernon Hershberger, who in 2013 was acquitted of three criminal charges that included operating an unlicensed retail store and operating a dairy farm and dairy processing facility without licenses.

Earlier this year, state officials suspended for 30 days the Grade-A milk production permit of a Durand dairy farm blamed for a raw-milk illness outbreak that sickened nearly 40 people.

But some raw milk consumers say state officials have been less aggressive since the Hershberger trial.

“That’s what we have been assuming and hoping for,” Redmond said.

Wow.

Couple kicked out of Wisconsin McDonald’s for bringing in kangaroo

On Friday, Diana and Larry Moyer brought one of their five pet kangaroos to a McDonald’s in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, prompting a customer to call the police, reports WISN.

kangaroo-800“He’s just a little guy, but you can touch him and pet him,” Larry says of Jimmy the kangaroo.

The couple often brings the smaller marsupial with them on errands to keep Diana, who is battling cancer, company. Jimmy isn’t a licensed service animal, but the kangaroo is a therapy pet.

The Moyers – who’ve owned kangaroos for five years – say the animals often turn heads in public, but rarely do they cause problems, so the couple was shocked when a customer at McDonald’s felt the need to call the police and complain.

Since kangaroos are not protected by disability laws, the Moyers and Jimmy were asked to leave by the restaurant. The group left without incident at the same time authorities arrived at the scene.

How about disclosure? Wisconsin restaurants support new food safety standards

Ed Lump, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association, writes in the LaCrosse Tribune that to say food safety in restaurants and other food outlets is important is an understatement. However, the public doesn’t hear much about it unless there is an actual outbreak of foodborne illness. Occasionally, awareness is heightened by publication in local newspapers or TV segments about restaurant inspection reports.

restaurant.inspectionOn Jan. 1, we took another big step forward as a new law (strengthening a 20-year-old existing law) went into effect. The original law requires that every restaurant in Wisconsin, regardless of size, have at least one manager on staff certified in food safety (Certified Food Protection Manager). To become certified, the manager has to pass a state approved exam.

The existing law also requires that a Certified Food Protection Manager be recertified every five years. However, recertification was accomplished by class time — no exam. Now an exam is required for both original certification and recertification. WRA feels this is the best way to ensure the manager demonstrates knowledge and is up-to-date on current science and food codes. By the way, the city of Milwaukee has required this since 2008, which our association also supported.

This is why food safety knowledge accountability is critical. WRA supported this stricter re-certification process because it helps to protect customers, restaurants and our industry from dangerous and costly outbreaks of foodborne illness.

Lump doesn’t say whether that certified manager has to be present or at home.

That’s where disclosure can play a role.

Sari Lesk of Stevens Point Journal Media, home of Portage county, Wisconsin, writes that Portage County diners can now go online, before they go out, to find out how a local restaurant performed in its most recent health inspection.

Public access to the inspection reports, contained on a portal called Healthspace, went live Monday. A link to the portal is available on the county’s home page.

restaurant.inspection.la.porn.mar.13The inspections date back to July 2013 and will, over time, display the results for three years’ worth of data. The information is organized alphabetically by restaurant name.

Users can tell if a restaurant’s health violations fall under one of three categories:

  • Priority: Violations such as improper cooking, reheating, cooling, or handwashing. These violations are known to cause foodborne illnesses. Uncorrected priority observations usually result in a reinspection.
  • Priority foundation:Violations such as no soap or single-use toweling available for handwashing, failure of the person in charge to properly train employees, not maintaining required documentation, labeling or records. These observations support or enable a priority violation and may contribute to a foodborne illness. Priority foundation observations will be reexamined during the next routine inspection.
  • Core:Violations that usually relate to general sanitation, operational controls, sanitation standard operating procedures, facilities or structures, equipment design, or general maintenance. Core observations will be reexamined during the next routine inspection.

The website also lists recommendations for correcting the violations, and notes whether they were corrected in a follow-up inspection.

Public health environmental specialist Lindsay Benaszeski cautions that the information should be looked at as a snapshot in time, but that the business owners she’s told about the online access have largely been receptive to the idea, adding, “It’s kind of a way to showcase their facility if they’re doing a great job,” she said.

Some restaurant owners disagree, however. Jim Billings, president of the Portage County Tavern League and owner of Final Score, said he thinks the information could be easily misconstrued by someone who does not work in the restaurant business.

Lagos vs. Wisconsin: E. coli in dinking water and stools

Since early detection of pathogens and their virulence factors contribute to intervention and control strategies, we assessed the enteropathogens in diarrhea disease and investigated the link between toxigenic strains of Escherichia coli from stool and drinking-water sources; and determined the expression of toxin genes by antibiotic-resistant E. coli in Lagos, Nigeria. This was compared with isolates from diarrhoeal stool and water from Wisconsin, USA.

 lagos.waterThe new Luminex xTAG GPP (Gastroplex) technique and conventional real-time PCR were used to profile enteric pathogens and E. coli toxin gene isolates, respectively. Results showed the pathogen profile of stool and indicated a relationship between E. coli toxin genes in water and stool from Lagos which was absent in Wisconsin isolates.

The Gastroplex technique was efficient for multiple enteric pathogens and toxin gene detection. The co-existence of antibiotic resistance with enteroinvasive E. coli toxin genes suggests an additional prognostic burden on patients.

Preponderance of toxigenic Escherichia coli in stool pathogens correlates with toxin detection in accessible drinking-water sources

Epidemiology and Infection / Volume 143 / Issue 03 / February 2015, pp 494-504

H. Igbokwe, S. Bhattacharyya, S. Gradus, M. Khubbar, D. Grisowld, J. Navidad, C. Igwilo, D. Masson-Meyers and A.A. Azenabor

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9527892&utm_source=Issue_Alert&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=HYG&utm_reader=feedly

It was the raw milk that sickened 40 in Wisconsin: Report

State health officials Thursday made public more evidence that raw milk was the cause of a foodborne illness outbreak that sickened nearly 40 people associated with the Durand High School football team, including many players.

santa.barf.sprout.raw.milkIn an investigation report from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel through a state open records request, officials said among the 38 people sickened, 32 drank unpasteurized milk and six drank milk which might have been unpasteurized.

Those who fell ill from the Sept. 18 dinner included 33 students and five coaches.

State officials said it was one of the largest raw-milk illness outbreaks they’ve seen. Twenty-six of the illnesses were laboratory confirmed to stem from Campylobacter jejuni, a harmful bacteria sometimes found in unpasteurized milk or undercooked meat and poultry. Ten of those who fell ill were hospitalized.

“Analysis of data pertaining to foods consumed during the team dinner demonstrates that consuming milk during the team dinner was associated with illness,” the report noted.

Last week, state officials said publicly for the first time that the unpasteurized milk served at the dinner came from a farm operated by Roland and Diana Reed, of Arkansaw, located near Durand in Pepin County.

colbert.raw.milkAt least some of the adults and students didn’t know that it was raw milk, according to public health officials. Diana Reed, however, said she had served it at team dinners for seven years.

In an interview, she said she doesn’t believe the milk was to blame for the illnesses — despite evidence that showed Campylobacter in manure on the farm had the same unique genetic “fingerprint” as Campylobacter found in football players’ stool samples.

 

Lesson in epidemiology (not): Wisconsin farmer says raw milk may not have made Durand football team ill

Now that the Reed ranch has been named and shamed as the source of the raw milk linked to at least 38 illnesses of Campylobacter jejuni related to players and staff of the Durand High School football team, the owner is speaking out.

raw.milk.death.1917Diana Reed, whose farm provided the milk said, “Some people got sick who did not drink the milk,” she said Saturday.

State health officials also tested manure of the cows at the Reed ranch and concluded some of the cows contained the strain of Campylobacter that sickened the students.

On Friday, state health officials identified the Reed farm as the source of the milk following an open records inquiry by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

But Reed said there could have been other sources of the bug.

“I discussed it with the epidemiologist in Madison. He gave me some statistics — 56 people ate chicken, 38 got sick; 43 people chose to drink milk and 33 got sick,” she said. “They interviewed everyone who was there.”

That leaves five people who did not drink milk, but who still had Campylobacter.

State identifies farms tied to two raw milk illness outbreaks, refuses to hear appeal

A day after The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel publicly revealed that government types weren’t willing to identify two farms that were the sources of raw milk that sickened dozens at school events, some type of sanity has prevailed; the farms have been identified and separately, the state Supreme Court has refused to consider whether a Sauk County farmer was properly convicted of selling raw milk in 2013.


napoleon.raw.milkIn the most recent incident, this fall in Durand, 38 people associated with the Durand High School football team fell ill after a potluck dinner where unpasteurized milk was served. Twenty-six of the illnesses were laboratory confirmed to stem from Campylobacter jejune, a bacteria sometimes found in unpasteurized milk or undercooked meat and poultry.

A state Department of Health Services memo released Friday by the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, said the milk came from a farm operated by Roland and Diana Reed, of Arkansaw, located near Durand in Pepin County.

The agency also identified a local farm whose unpasteurized milk was tied to the illnesses of 16 people, including students, at North Cape elementary school in Racine County in 2011. It was identified as the Schaal Dairy Farm, according to state officials, who said a relative of the farmer took the milk from the farm to the school, without the farmer’s permission. No action was taken against the owner of the farm.

colbert.raw.milkMeanwhile, Vernon Hershberger had asked the court to review his 2013 conviction for violating a holding order on the sales of raw milk from his farm.

He argued he operates a private buying club that’s not subject to the same rules as a farmer. He also argued that he wouldn’t have been found guilty had an unedited copy of the order been placed into evidence and a judge blocked him from introducing evidence to bolster his defense.

The 4th District Court of Appeals rejected his arguments this past summer. The high court announced Friday it wouldn’t take the case.

Dozens sickened by raw milk, yet Wisconsin keeps farm names secret

Wisconsin state officials are refusing to identify a dairy farm that supplied unpasteurized milk at a potluck dinner where 38 participants, including members of the Durand High School football team, were sickened with Campylocater.

sprout.santa.barf.xmasDespite requests from The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel under the state’s Open Records law, officials with the Department of Health Services and the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, have been unwilling to provide the information.

Moreover, they’ve refused to identify a dairy farm that supplied unpasteurized milk at a June 2011 elementary school event in Racine County where 16 people were sickened.

“It’s outrageous. The public has the right to this information. Who is the state of Wisconsin trying to protect, the public or bad operators?” said Bill Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council.

In the Racine County incident, unpasteurized milk from a local farm was served at a school event at North Cape Elementary School in Raymond, about 10 miles northwest of Racine.

“Allegedly, teachers at the school event thought drinking milk directly from a farm would be a good educational experience for the students,” State Rep. Don Pridemore (R-Erin) said in a statement after the illness outbreak.