Listeria: Raw Milk Responsible For Fatal Illness

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report linking raw milk to the rash of listeria-related illnesses in 2014.

The CDC opened the first investigations after three people contracted listeria. One of the three reported patients died as a result of the food-borne bacteria.

Officials tested many products between 2014 and November 2015 to pinpoint the source of contamination. However, the source remained elusive until January. The Food and Drug Administration told the CDC that samples obtained from Miller’s Organic Farm in Pennsylvania yielded strains of the bacteria that matched those related to the listeria illnesses cases. The CDC then dubbed the raw chocolate milk products from Miller’s responsible for the listeria outbreak.

According to Fox 6 News, the CDC released their official report about Miller’s raw milk listeria contamination on Friday.

Miller’s Organic Farm is a members-only distributor, owner Amos Miller said in an interview. He said that they supply milk, produce, and meat to people with private memberships, not to retail stores or outlets.

Tech Times reported that in early March, a routine sample test detected traces of the same listeria bacteria in the facility that produces sandwiches distributed to and sold by Starbucks stores. The supplier then recalled a batch of the breakfast sandwiches considered at risk of contamination. Whether this prompted the swift delivery of the report from the CDC about the listeria in Miller’s raw milk is unknown.

Miller spoke to CBS News in defense of his company and their raw milk. He said they still sell these products to their members with no problems.

“I don’t know that it was proved it’s on the farm here. We hope and pray for the best.”

The CDC issued words of caution to the public about the findings reported in the results of their testing released Friday, despite the lack of official product recalls.

“Because Listeria was recently found in raw milk produced by Miller’s Organic Farm, we are concerned that contaminated raw milk and other raw dairy products from this company could still be on the market and make people sick.”

The CDC reminds people of the dangers that food-borne illnesses present. They advise against raw dairy, which comes from cows, goats, sheep, and other animals but is not pasteurized or heated to remove the harmful bacteria. They emphasized these crucial warnings especially for young children, pregnant women, and the elderly. These groups of people are more susceptible to infection from this bacteria.

“We recommend that people drink and eat only pasteurized dairy products…This is especially important for people at higher risk for food borne illness: children younger than 5, pregnant women, adults 65 and older, and people with weakened immune systems.”

Listeria, or listeriosis, causes an infection in the gastrointestinal tract. The symptoms range anywhere from headaches, dizziness, and nausea to high fever, muscle aches, and weakness and confusion. In extreme cases, it results in the death of the infected person. The CDC reports that these symptoms occur within days of consuming contaminated products, and they recommend prompt medical attention to anyone who suspects listeria exposure.

This is not the first listeria outbreak to make headlines the last few years. Last year, Blue Bell suffered a recall due to the bacteria tainting their products. The contamination resulted in the deaths of three people, and nearly a dozen more sick or hospitalized. 2014 also saw more victims of the bacteria unrelated to Miller’s, when seven people died from listeria after eating caramel apples.

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]