I know, I keep harping on raw milk to a community of veterinarians who understand food safety and foodborne illness. But it makes me shake my head in disbelief as story after story comes out about continued foodborne illness associated with raw milk from dairy farms.
I realize you can’t control everything your clients do. And maybe the farms who are distributing raw milk to consumers aren’t using their veterinarian or aren’t informing him/her that they are distributing the product. But if you do know about clients who are doing it, what is your responsibility both under the law and as a defacto officer of public health, as you swore in your veterinary oath? That’s for you to decide, but the facts are there. There are a lot of illnesses and outbreaks due to the consumption of raw milk.
A recent press release from the FDA discusses another case of foodborne illness from raw milk, this time from the Tucker Adkins Dairy of York, S. C. This time campylobacteriosis occurred in three confirmed cases and five probably cases. The release says although retail sale of raw milk is legal in South Carolina, it is illegal to distribute raw milk in final package form for direct human consumption in interstate commerce. Retail sale of raw milk for human consumption is also illegal in North Carolina.
Raw milk may contain a wide variety of harmful bacteria – including Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, Listeria, Campylobacter and Brucella -- that may cause illness and possibly death. Public health authorities, including FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have expressed concerns about the hazards of drinking raw milk for decades.
Food safety expert Doug Powell, PhD, Kansas State University and author of the barfblog, offers a table of raw milk-related outbreaks here.