Raw Milk Illness Outbreak in Pennsylvania

A recent outbreak of bacterial illnesses in Pennsylvania and the East Coast has led some consumers to question the health benefits of raw milk.

Raw or unpasteurized milk, is one of the more controversial agricultural products sold in the United States. Strictly controlled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it is banned from sale across state lines. While many states allow raw milk sales to local consumers, many tightly control production standards.

Unpasteurized milk, advocates say, contains many health benefits. The pasteurization process, advocates claim, kills helpful bacteria that aid in digestion and reduces the nutritional benefits of milk. The USDA and the Food and Drug Administration, however, dispute many of these claims and maintain that the pasteurization process kills harmful bacteria like E. coli, salmonella, and listeria.

A recent outbreak of illnesses along the East Coast seems to confirm FDA claims. Raw milk traced to a Chambersburg, Pennsylvania farm has sickened 35 people in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia. Testing of the milk found traces of the campylobacter bacterium, which causes diarrhea, cramps, fever, and can lead to fatal complications if it spreads to the bloodstream.

The farm in question has apologized to consumers and offered to refund their money.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer