Published On: Thu, May 30th, 2013

Pennsylvania health officials advise the public to discard ‘The Family Cow’ raw milk after confirming five campylobacter cases

The Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture and Health are advising the consumer public to discard raw milk produced by The Family Cow in Chambersburg, Franklin County, because of potential Campylobacter contamination, according to a press release May 29.

The Department of Health has confirmed five cases of  Campylobacter infection in people who consumed raw milk from the Franklin County farm.

Based on the reported illnesses, the Department of Agriculture collected samples of raw milk during an investigation of The Family Cow, on May 17. Positive tests for Campylobacter were confirmed Tuesday, according to officials.

The packaged raw milk is sold under The Family Cow label in plastic gallon, half-gallon, quart and pint containers. It is labeled as “raw milk.” Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized.

The Family Cow, owned and operated by Edwin Shank, sells directly to consumers in an on-farm retail store and at drop off locations and retail stores around Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and the Lehigh Valley, as well as south-central Pennsylvania.

Mr. Shank said in a note on Facebook yesterday:

This is a note to tell you that we are halting sales of our raw milk while we do further testing. The PA Department of Ag called me yesterday reporting that they isolated campylobacter bacteria in a sample of raw milk that was bottled at our farm almost three weeks ago. For the next several days, both we and the state are extensively testing our current milk to assure its safety before we resume sales.

The state’s report is puzzling to our family. We are not sure what to make of it. As you know, we have our own on-farm laboratory where we pre-test every single lot of raw milk before we release it for sale to you. I guess that’s why we are surprised by the state report. We already know how clean the milk was that the state is questioning.  The Coliform Count (CC) of the milk was 5 times lower/ml than state requirements for raw sales and the Standard Plate Count (SPC) was over 13 times lower/ml than the state regulations require. This was some very clean milk, folks! This is even cleaner than pasteurization standards.  And these low numbers are not unusual for our milk.  These are the kinds of low numbers that allows our raw milk to sometimes stay fresh for up to three weeks, as some of you report it does.

But regardless of our own lab test results and our questions, we have halted raw milk sales while we send our current milk off to a 3rd party state certified pathogen lab for testing. As always, we take food safety for your family seriously. We feed our family these foods too so we obviously take very personal interest!

Campylobacter are bacteria that can cause diarrhea (sometimes bloody), abdominalcramping/pain, nausea, vomiting, and fever within 2 to 5 days after exposure. The illness typically lasts from several days to over a week, with variable severity. Some people, especially young children or individuals with compromised immune systems, can develop severe or even life-threatening illness. Infrequently, Campylobacter infectionleads to long-term consequences. Some people with Campylobacter infection develop arthritis, and rarely, some develop a life-threatening disease called Guillain-Barré syndrome that inflames the nerves of the body beginning several weeks after the onset of diarrhea.

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Franklin County, Pennsylvania Image/David Benbennick

Franklin County, Pennsylvania Image/David Benbennick

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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