milk25If your family has bought raw milk from Pennsylvania's Family Cow dairy store since Jan. 1 of this year, throw it out. The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is reporting multiple Campylobacter infection cases associated with consumption of raw (unpasteurized) milk from the Family Cow dairy store in Chambersburg, Pa. DHMH, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, advises consumers that milk recently purchased from this store may contain harmful bacteria.

To date, there are six confirmed campylobacteriosis cases: three in Maryland and three in Pennsylvania, all of whom consumed raw milk from this farm. Maryland DHMH recommends consumers discard any product purchased from this farm since January 1, 2012.

Campylobacter is a bacterial cause of diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, and can progress to more serious illness, such as a bloodstream infection and other complications. Illness generally occurs two to five days after exposure. In 2011, Maryland reported nearly 600 Campylobacter infections.

The implicated milk is labeled "raw milk" (meaning, not pasteurized) and is sold under "The Family Cow" label in plastic gallon, half gallon, quart and pint containers. The Family Cow dairy sells directly to consumers at its on-farm retail store and at multiple drop-off locations and retail stores in the following Pennsylvania counties: Bucks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Lebanon, Montgomery, Philadelphia and York counties.

Raw milk and products made from raw milk (including certain cheeses, ice cream, and yogurt) can pose severe health risks. Pasteurization is performed by briefly heating raw milk to kill disease-causing germs (e.g., Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157, Campylobacter) that can be found in raw milk. Maryland state law prohibits the sale of unpasteurized milk.

Information about the regulation of milk and dairy products in Maryland can be found here. Further information on raw milk safety can be found on the CDC website.

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