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September 8, 2010

Listeria Found in Raw Milk Cheese

I know there's a lot of controversy over consuming raw milk
Is it safe for me and my family?
Isn't it better for me than pasteurized milk?
Should I consume raw milk cheese, or not?
Is it legal to buy raw milk in my state?
What would happen if I consumed a contaminated raw milk product?

The questions go on and on.

Just last week the California Dept. of Food and Agriculture detected Listeria monocytogenes bacteria in raw milk cheese produced by Morningland Dairy in the state of Missouri and sold in California.

Here are two of the labels from the recalled cheese.  Photos courtesy FDA.

Photos of recalled Morningland Raw Milk Goat Cheese with Whole Foods label.  Photos courtesy FDA

Listeria monocytogenes may cause listeriosis among “at risk” people, including pregnant women, newborns, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, and sometimes nausea or diarrhea. If infection spreads to the nervous system, symptoms such as headache and stiff neck can occur. Infected pregnant women may experience only mild, flu-like illness; however, infections during pregnancy can lead to more serious problems for the fetus. Consumers should seek immediate medical care if they develop these symptoms.

Here is the California Dept. of Food and Ag press release with the information from the above paragraph.

When things like this come up, I feel I have the responsibility to go over raw milk information with you, so that you can make up your own mind on whether consuming raw milk products is something you want for yourself and your family.

I pulled up some information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on the FAQ page of their site regarding raw milk consumption.  Here's a few of their questions and answers:

Can drinking raw milk hurt me or my family?

Yes. Raw milk can cause serious infections. Raw milk and raw milk products (such as cheeses and yogurts made with raw milk) can be contaminated with bacteria that can cause serious illness, hospitalization, or death. These harmful bacteria include Brucella, Campylobacter, Listeria, Mycobacterium bovis, Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, Shigella, Streptococcus pyogenes, and Yersinia enterocolitica. From 1993 to 2006, 69 outbreaks of human infections resulting from consumption of raw milk were reported to CDC. These outbreaks included a total of 1,505 reported illnesses, 185 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.

Does drinking raw milk prevent or cure any diseases, such as asthma, allergies, heart disease, or cancer?

No. There are no health benefits from drinking raw milk that cannot be obtained from drinking pasteurized milk that is free of disease-causing bacteria. Drinking pasteurized milk has never been found to be the cause of any disease, allergy, or developmental or behavioral problem.

Does pasteurization change milk’s nutritional benefits?

No. Many studies have shown that pasteurization does not significantly change the nutritional value of milk and dairy products. All of the nutritional benefits of drinking milk are available from pasteurized milk without the risk of disease that comes with drinking raw milk.

The raw milk product in question, for the recall is from Morningland Dairy and you can go to the Morningland Dairy site to see their cheese making process and what they have to say regarding the recall.

You're probably wondering, if you don't already know from a previous post of mine, if we drink our own raw milk.......Yes.  Since our kids are now over three years of age, we drink our own raw milk from our dairy.
If you have any questions, please let me know.....I'd be happy to respond :)

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Pat Tillett said...

Nice to get the facts from someone close at the source! Thanks Nancy!

The Wife said...

Very interesting. I think I would be more apt to drink/eat raw milk products if it was coming from my own animals.

Fiona said...

Thanks for your very informative post. I usually get concerned when my kids drank a raw milk during our last trip in a farm. I always thought that milk should undergo pasteurization to kill the bacteria present on milk products. But fortunately, nothing caused bad to my kids after that.

Anonymous said...

My babies drank raw milk in there bottles and were very healthy, they did this with there doctors approval. He said as long as it came from a tested herd the milk was fine for them. I had to shake the cream up before giving them the bottle.

Ella said...

I drank raw milk until I was 10, I began having reactions (congestion and lung infections) to the pasteurized milk we had to buy as a substitute despite it being whole and organic. I stopped drinking it, even for a while consumed no dairy even butter which I know causes few reactions. When i started drinking milk again it was raw goat milk again, and no problems. I even started drinking raw cow milk with no problems.
I certainly understand the concern of buying milk from someone else, you really don't know what they are doing with it. At this point I am skeptical of milk from other people's animals, but still have never gotten sick from them. And many people are not so fortunate to have their own dairy animals, that is why there are regulations for cleanliness and certified raw dairies.

As with all things, be clean! Contamination can happen to any food, don't forget outbreaks from spinach and peanut butter, even cooked meat and pasteurized milk can carry pathogens if not handled properly.