Questions arising from Wisconsin raw milk outbreak

A high school football team in Wisconsin suffered from a Campylobacter outbreak because of raw milk.

A high school football team in Wisconsin suffered from a Campylobacter outbreak because of raw milk.

Earlier in September, a high school football team in Durand, Wisconsin, held a team potluck in which raw unpasteurized milk was served. According to Food Poisoning Bulletin, the raw ingredients led to 38 people reporting illnesses that match with the symptoms of Campylobacter, which is often found in raw products from food processing plants.

The majority of those reporting symptoms were high school students and the football players started reporting illnesses just two days after the potluck. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Campylobacter can cause symptoms such as high fever, abdominal cramping, vomiting and diarrhea.

Campylobacter affects younger people
The bacterium tends to affect those with weak immune systems even more. Pregnant women, elderly people and infants are more susceptible to the bacteria. As for the high school football players, the symptoms were so bad the school had to forfeit two football games because the illnesses lasted so long, Food Poisoning Bulletin reported.

Directly after several students reported illnesses, the school went through a massive cleansing process to make sure it was safe from a larger outbreak. The school even advised those who were sick or starting to show symptoms to stay home, the source stated.

Once lab tests were conducted, the results showed that 26 people had Campylobacter infections, and one high school student was said to have developed an E.coli infection that forced him to lose 11 pounds during his sickness.

Milk farm had same bacteria strands
According to Food Safety News, tests were performed by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture at the milk processing farm in Wisconsin. The state officials discovered the same strand of Campylobacter bacteria at the farm that was found in the raw milk served at the potluck.

Other Wisconsin health officials made sure the Campylobacter outbreak was the main cause of the multiple sicknesses reported. State officials questioned teachers, students, coaches and parents to see what else they might have been exposed to in the last couple of days.

While some are blaming the Wisconsin dairy farm for delivering infected milk products to consumers, other parents are questioning the adult that brought unpasteurized milk to the potluck and didn't inform the players or other parents. According to Food Poisoning Bulletin, unpasteurized milk is much more dangerous for teens and young adults because their systems are often not strong enough to battle possible harmful pathogens found in raw milk products.

"In Wisconsin, it's illegal to sell or distribute raw milk," said Fred Pritzker, a national food safety attorney, according to the source. "It makes no difference if the seller/distributor tells consumers the milk is unpasteurized or not."

Sometimes the pasteurization process isn't performed at the appropriate temperatures to kill off the necessary bacteria in dairy products. Equipment operators need the correct shell and tube heat exchanger to ensure all the products being shipped are heated at the correct temperature to create a safe and edible item.

Posted in Regulatory Compliance

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