«On The Safety of Raw Milk (with a word about pasteurization) Presented to 2005 NCIMS Cindy Leonard, M.S. USFDA/CFSAN Division of Dairy and Egg Safety ...»
On The Safety of Raw Milk
(with a word about
Presented to 2005 NCIMS
Cindy Leonard, M.S.
Division of Dairy and Egg Safety
Author: John F. Sheehan, B.Sc. (Dy.), J.D.
“Through ignorance of
what is good and bad,
the life of men is greatly
perplexed” Cicero, in De
Finibus Bonorum et
Malorum (I, 13)
Is raw milk safe to consume?
No. Raw milk is inherently dangerous. Raw
milk may contain a whole host of
pathogens, including :
Enterotoxigenic Staphylococcus aureus Campylobacter jejuni Salmonella species E. coli (EHEC) (ETEC) Listeria monocytogenes Mycobacterium tuberculosis Mycobacterium bovis Brucella species (abortus –cattle) (melitensis- goats) Coxiella burnetii Yersinia enterocolitica This listing is not meant to be exhaustive.
Incidence rates reported in the literature for each of the pathogens are variable.
As one might expect, there are variations in incidence rates between countries and even within regions of countries.
There are also variations in incidence rates reported for the three main commercial milks (bovine, ovine and caprine).
Outbreaks The CDC reports that from 1998 to present there were 39 outbreaks in which unpasteurized milk or cheese made from unpasteurized milk were implicated.
These outbreaks occurred in 22 states and two of them were multi-state outbreaks. An estimated 831 illnesses, 66 hospitalizations and 1 death were associated with these outbreaks.
Not all outbreaks are recognized.
Even when they are, not all are reported to CDC.
Virtually impossible to capture all of the incidents of individual illness which might occur Salmonella
SALMONELLA OUTBREAKBetween 2002-2003 there was a multistate outbreak of Salmonella typhimurium infections which were ultimately associated with the consumption of raw milk.
62 people were infected, including 40 customers Patients were from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee.
Of 32 food samples tested, five were positive for S. typhimurium, including three raw skim milk samples, one raw milk butter sample and one raw cream sample.
Upon investigation, only the consumption of raw milk was associated significantly with the illnesses.
The dairy involved in this outbreak had been in operation since 1958 and it was the only firm in Ohio lawfully selling raw milk. The dairy has since voluntarily relinquished its license to sell raw milk. MMWR Weekly July 4, 2003 52(26) 613-615.
If you encounter a raw milk vendor who tells you that his milk is safe because he/she has never had a pathogen determined to be present in their raw milk or their raw milk has never been involved in a foodborne outbreak, ask them if they are familiar with this story.
The fact that they haven’t yet found any pathogens present in their raw milk doesn’t necessarily mean that such are not present. Much depends on the sampling and analytical methodologies used and they might not be looking for a relatively complete spectrum of pathogens when they test their milk.
‘Never Had it’ doesn’t mean ‘Never Will’.
In California, in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the consumption of raw milk and the incidence of Salmonella dublin infections was reported upon by several groups of authors.
Werner et al (1979) Reported that between 1971-1975, the mean annual incidence of Salmonella dublin infections in California increased more than five fold.
Investigations of the cases showed an association with raw milk exposure in 44 out of the 113 cases.
Of those 44, 35 had used milk from a single dairy.
89 of the 113 were hospitalized. 22 of them died.
S. dublin was confirmed to be present in the milk from the dairy, prompting the issuance of a pasteurization order.
The authors of this report concluded that the public’s increasing desire for a “health food” such as raw milk is alleged to be, should be tempered with an appreciation of it’s attendant risk to health. Werner et al. Br. Med. J.
1979 (Jul) 28:2 (6184) 238-241 Almost half of the patients had serious underlying noninfectious diseases, such as leukemias and lymphomas.
With such patients, the immune system is often compromised as a result of the treatments which they are receiving.
The combination of a deadly pathogen and an immunocompromised patient is obviously not a good one.
Unfortunately, raw milk is oftentimes marketed as being a “health food” and some raw milk vendors, when comparing their product to a pasteurized milk, ascribe to it all sorts of curative properties, which are as yet largely unsubstantiated in the scientific literature.
Taylor et al (1982) Reported on S. dublin infections in the United States between 1979-1980. They indicated that when exposure to cattle, beef or dairy products was examined, cases differed significantly from controls only by a more frequent consumption of raw milk.
Taylor et al. J. Infect. Dis. 1982 Sep; 146(3) 322-7 What’s been happening lately?
Interestingly enough, Cody et al (1999) reported on two outbreaks of multi-drug resistant Salmonella typhimurium DT104 infections linked to raw milk cheeses in Northern California.
The first outbreak peaked in February of 1997 and the second in April of that year. 110 patients were confirmed.
The cause was ultimately determined to be Mexicanstyle fresh cheese made from raw milk and sold by street vendors.
Cody et al. JAMA 1999 May 19:281(19):1805-10 So, if you encounter a raw milk vendor who indicates that California has never had a problem with raw milk safety, ask if they have ever heard of any the above.
Villar et al (1999) Reported on more S. typhimurium DT104 infections which occurred in neighboring Washington State during 1997.
In early 1997, Yakima County health officials noticed a five-fold increase in Salmonellosis among the county’s Hispanic residents.
Between January and May 1997, 54 cultureconfirmed cases were reported.
Villar et al (1999) The median age was four (4) years old 91% of the patients were Hispanic.
17 of the 22 patients enrolled in the casecontrol study reported eating Mexican – style soft cheese in the seven days prior to the onset of illness.
The cheese produced and eaten by 2 unrelated patients was made from milk traced to the same local dairy farm.
Milk samples from the farm yielded the same S. typhimurium DT104.
The incidence of S. typhimurium infections in Yakima County returned to the pre-1992 levels following interventions based on these findings.
The authors concluded that continued efforts were needed to discourage the consumption of raw milk products and to promote healthier alternatives.
Villar et al. JAMA 1999 May 19;
281(19)1811-6 RAW MILK Abuela Project One of the interventions subsequently implemented in Washington State was the Abuela Project, in which a pasteurized milk queso fresco recipe which produce a cheese with taste and texture acceptable to the Hispanic community was developed.
225 people attended safe cheese workshops and the authors report that six months later the workshop participants’ acceptance of the new recipe was excellent and that positive behavior changes were maintained.
For more on the Abuela project, see: Bell et al. Am J.
Public Health 1999 Sep; 89 (9) 1421-4.
Reed and Grivetti (2000) JDS 83:2988-2991 mentioned both the California and Washington ST DT104 1997 outbreaks in their article entitled: “Controlling onfarm inventories of bulk tank raw milk – an opportunity to protect public health.” The authors reported that “ the most significant source of raw milk (for illegal cheese manufacture) comes from the bulk tanks of licensed dairies”.
E. Coli O157:H7 Keene et al. (1997) reported on a prolonged outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 which was caused by consumption of raw milk sold at Oregon grocery stores.
It began in December of 1992 and did not end until June of 1994.
When the culprit dairy was determined, it was discovered that only 4 of the 132 animals in the herd were initially positive for E. coli O157:H7.
Despite public warnings, new labeling requirements and increased monitoring of the culprit dairy, retail sales and dairyassociated illnesses continued until June of 1994.
The authors concluded that without restrictions on distribution, E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks caused by raw milk consumption can continue indefinitely, with infections occurring intermittently and unpredictably.
Keene et al. J. Infect. Dis. 1997 Sep.
176 (3) 815-8 Proctor and Davis (2002) Reported on E. coli O157:H7 infections in Wisconsin between 1992-1999. (The disease only became reportable in Wisconsin in April of 2000.) Between 1992-1999 there were 1333 cases reported in Wisconsin.
The highest age-specific mean annual incidence, 13.2 cases per 100,000 population, occurred in children aged 3-5 years old.
Among case patient identifiable exposures, consumption of raw milk/milk products was among the top three causes most frequently noted, at 7% of cases.
Proctor and Davis WMJ 2000 Aug; 99(5) 32-7.
HUS One of the complications that can arise as a result of infection with E.coli O157:H7 is hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can have devastating consequences upon victims, (such as acute renal failure), especially where they are very young.
Infection with Shiga-toxin-producing E. coli or Shigella dysenteriae type I were cited as playing a major role in the pathogenesis of HUS in childhood.
Among the causes was the consumption of raw milk, which resulted in the authors concluding that pasteurization of raw milk is likely to have a positive influence on the incidence of HUS.
Kernland et al. Schweiz Med Wochenschr 1997;127:1229–33.
Allerberger et al (2001) Reported on two children in Austria who contracted E. coli O157:H7 infection and subsequently developed HUS. The authors concluded that “it is prudent to remind them (parents and teachers) that children should not be given unpasteurized milk”.
Eurosurveillance Vol.6 No.10, October, 2001.
Children Children fall victim to foodborne illness producing such devastating and oftentimes life-changing consequences as HUS.
If children knew that raw milk might make them very ill, cause them to lose their kidneys or even kill them, would they choose to drink it?
Children trust us to protect them, keep them safe, yet children are often fed raw milk by parents who believe it to be a healthy choice.
Continue educational efforts with respect to the hazards associated with consumption of raw milk.
Continue to urge parents to make only the safest and healthiest choices for their children.
Campylobacter jejuni This organism has been associated with numerous outbreaks of foodborne illness related to the consumption of raw milk over the past twenty-five years, including outbreaks in Kansas, Minnesota, California, Colorado, Washington, Iowa, Oregon, Arizona, Georgia and Maine.
Schmid et al (1987) Reported on their study of C. jejuni infections in one Iowa city (Dubuque) over a twelve-month period.
Culture-confirmed positives were obtained from 53 people. 46 of those participated in the case-control study performed. 21 of the 46 cases occurred in children less than 10 years of age. The age-specific attack rate was highest for children aged one to four years.
15 of the 46 had consumed raw milk in the week before the onset of illness.
12 of the 15 who had consumed milk were less than 10.
The authors concluded that:
“Eliminating the consumption of raw milk will depend on educational efforts”.
Schmid et al. J. Infect. Dis. 156, 1 July, 1987 It is not just the very young that can fall victim to C. jejuni infection through the consumption of raw milk.
Blaser and Williams (1987) Documented how after a retreat to an Oregon farm, 19 of 31 college students developed an acute gastrointestinal illness.
C. jejuni infection was recognized in all of the students that were ill and caused asymptomatic infections with three others.
22 of 25 students who had consumed raw milk for the first time became infected. This compared with 0 of the 2 students who did not drink the raw milk.
The quantity of raw milk consumed was directly related to the occurrence and severity of illness.
Blaser and Williams JAMA 1987 Jan2 1, 257(1) 43-6.
Listeria monocytogenes Listeria monocytogenes Outbreaks Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) has been responsible for several outbreaks of foodborne illness domestically.
Each year approximately 2500 people become seriously ill due to Lm infections.
Nearly 500 of these die from their infection.
Listeriosis only accounts for about 0.02% of illnesses due to foodborne disease, but it causes 27.6% of all deaths due to foodborne infection.
Linnan et al (1988) Large outbreak occurred in 1985 in Los Angeles County. 93 cases occurred in pregnant women or their offspring. There were 48 deaths.
Commercially manufactured Mexican-style cheese made from either a raw milk or a pasteurized milk which was adulterated with raw milk was ultimately determined to be the cause of the illnesses.
Linnan et al NEJM 1988; 319:823-828.
MacDonald et al (2005) Mexican-style cheeses made and sold unlawfully have also caused outbreaks of foodborne listeriosis. In 2000, there was an outbreak of listeriosis among Hispanic persons living in Winston-Salem area of North Carolina, as reported by Mac Donald et al.
13 patients were identified. 11 case patients were pregnant and infection with Lm resulted in 5 stillbirths, 3 premature deaths and 3 infected newborns.
The authors concluded that the outbreak was caused by the “consumption of non-commercial, homemade, Mexican-style cheese produced from contaminated raw milk sold to unlicensed cheese makers by a local dairy”.
The authors also concluded that “A combination of outreach and enforcement should be directed at store owners, vendors and dairy farmers, including education about disease risks and vigorous enforcement of laws and regulations governing the production and sale of milk and cheese”.
MacDonald et al. CID 2005:40 (1 March) 677.
Pasteurization Pasteurization will destroy all of the pathogens that we have mentioned thus far.
But what else does pasteurization do?