New York health and agriculture officials are warning the public to not buy or consume unpasteurized, raw milk from Udder Milk in New Jersey because of the danger of contracting an antibiotic-resistant form of food poisoning.
Federal law prohibits transporting unpasteurized milk across state lines for sale. New York law prohibits the sale of unpasteurized, raw milk except for “on-farm” direct-to-consumer sales. New Jersey and Rhode Island have already ordered the Udder Milk company to cease and desist its “illegal sales” of unpasteurized milk.
“A New Jersey resident was recently diagnosed with a disease called brucellosis after her reported purchase of raw milk from a home delivery company named Udder Milk in New Jersey,” according to the public health alert from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the New York State Department of Health, and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
“Drop off locations for the purchase of raw milk and other products from Udder Milk have been identified in New York City and Long Island.”
No confirmed illnesses in New York have been linked to raw milk from the Udder Milk company. However, state officials warned of the serious risks that come with consuming unpasteurized milk and products made with it.
Pasteurization involves heating raw milk to a specific temperature for a set period of time in order to kill bacteria, viruses and parasites including Salmonella, Listeria, Campylobacter and Brucella. Raw milk also has been found to carry the pathogens that cause typhoid fever and tuberculosis.
“Pasteurization standards are in place to ensure the public’s health, but it’s important for New Yorkers to understand the dangers of raw milk and avoid consumption,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said in the public alert.
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said in the alert that the department is working with other states and federal officials on the investigation. Investigators are working to find out what diaries are supplying raw milk to the Udder Milk company.
“… we believe Udder Milk has delivered raw milk illegally in New York. As we continue to collaborate with our federal and state partners in this investigation, we want to alert New Yorkers to the potential dangers of purchasing raw milk from this company,” Ball said in the public health alert.
New Jersey officials previously announced a person tested positive in late October for a rare bacterial infection caused by Brucella RB51, which is resistant to antibiotics. It was the second U.S. case of Brucella RB51 infection this year associated with raw milk.
The Texas Department of State Health Services is investigating a separate case connected to a dairy company in Paradise, TX, that also sells raw milk products. Federal officials do not believe the Texas case is related to the New Jersey case, though no definitive information has been released.
A health advisory is scheduled to be distributed to New York City area healthcare providers and laboratories to raise awareness of the confirmed case in New Jersey and remind doctors to be on the lookout for symptoms of Brucella infection.
While primarily passed among infected animals, eating or drinking Brucella contaminated raw milk products can cause human infection. Brucellosis can cause a range of symptoms including fever, sweats, chills, weight loss, headache, fatigue and muscle and joint pain.
Symptoms may appear up to six months after exposure. In severe cases, infections of the bones, joints, reproductive organs, central nervous system or lining of the heart may occur. The infection also can cause fetal loss in pregnant women.
People who experience symptoms and may have consumed raw milk should see a doctor right away.
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