New York farm officials are warning against consumption of raw milk in Tompkins County, particularly milk produced at Jerry Dell Farm in Freeville, New York. A series of illnesses have been traced to the farm, reigniting debate over the safety of unpasteurized milk and dairy products.
On September 22, Jerry Dell Farm was informed by officials from the New York Department of Health and Agriculture that two people were sickened after consuming raw milk from their farm. Subsequent testing detected the presence of Campylobacter, a bacterium frequently found in dairy farms. Ingestion of tainted food can cause cramps, fever, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal distress. Symptoms frequently clear up within five days, but can be serious to individuals with weakened or compromised immune systems.
The discovery has increased debate over the safety of unpasteurized milk products. Many states ban the sale of raw milk entirely, requiring that all dairy products sold to consumers undergo pasteurization to guarantee the destruction of all potential pathogens. New York allows the direct sale of unpasteurized products to consumers, provided that the product be accompanied by a warning that consumption of raw milk could potentially be dangerous.
Many New Yorkers believe that the illnesses that could occur from consuming raw milk outweigh any potential benefits. Supporters of unpasteurized products, however, claim that pasteurization destroys important nutrients. They also claim that raw milk industries help support local farmers.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer