At least six people got sick after drinking raw milk from a Cambridge area farm, prompting Minnesota health officials to warn others to toss out raw milk purchased from the Jaloszyski dairy farm.
The illnesses included three people who were confirmed to have the bacterium Campylobacter jejuni. Health providers, as required by law, reported the illnesses to state health officials, who then linked them to raw milk sold on the Dennis Jaloszyski farm near Cambridge, about 45 miles north of the Twin Cities.
The Jaloszyskis couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.
Raw milk sold on a farm is legal, state Health Department officials said. But they warn consuming it poses inherent risks for food-borne illness.
“Drinking raw milk or eating products made from raw milk can expose you to a variety of pathogens that can result in anything from a few days of diarrhea to kidney failure and death,” said Trisha Robinson, a food-borne illness epidemiologist with the Health Department. “People need to think carefully about those risks before consuming raw dairy products from any source, and people need to know that the risks are especially high for young children.”
Common symptoms caused by the bacterium Campylobacter include fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, malaise and vomiting. Symptoms often begin two to five days after consuming the contaminated food and usually last a week for most people, up to three weeks for others.
State officials aren’t sure how many could be affected by the outbreak because the farmer didn’t have a list of customers. That prompted health officials to issue an advisory that raw milk purchased from the farm should be thrown out.
Heidi Kassenborg, director of the dairy and food inspection division for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, said Jaloszyski is complying with an inspector’s request to stop selling raw milk in an effort to stem the outbreak. It hasn’t been determined when he can resume those sales.
But Jaloszyski, who has about 30 cows, could sell the milk to be pasteurized., Kassenborg said.
“A farm is not a sterile environment,” she said. “There are various diseases you can get from cattle, and unfortunately contamination of milk occurs. It just takes a few organisms to cause disease. The cleanest farms and the best of intentions still aren’t enough to completely remove that risk.”
Advocates of raw milk argue the benefits of consuming raw milk outweigh the risks. They argue that pasteurization, which uses heat to kill bacteria, also kills valuable enzymes and vitamins and disrupts the digestive system.
Last month, state officials reported that 25 Minnesotans developed salmonella poisoning from eating a Mexican-style cheese made with raw milk. Fifteen were hospitalized, but all recovered.