New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today warned consumers in Sullivan County and the surrounding area not to consume “unpasteurized” raw farm milk from the Richard Dirie Farm, due to possible Listeria contamination.
The Dirie Farm is located at 1345 Shandelee Road, Livingston Manor, New York. To date, no illnesses are known by the Department to be associated with this product.
A sample of the milk, collected by an inspector from the Division of Milk Control and Dairy Services on October 21, 2014, was subsequently tested by the Department’s Food Laboratory and discovered to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
On October 23, 2014, the producer was notified of a preliminary positive test result and he volunteered to suspend raw milk sales until the sample results were confirmed. Further laboratory testing, completed on October 28, 2014, confirmed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in the raw milk sample.
The producer is now prohibited from selling raw milk until subsequent sampling indicates that the product is free of harmful bacteria.
Agricultural officials remind the public that raw milk does not provide the protection of pasteurization, which eliminates all pathogenic bacteria, including Listeria.
Listeria monocytogenes is bacteria that is normally found in the environment and has been found in animals, birds and vegetation. It can be found in raw foods and processed foods that get contaminated after processing. Some of the most common foods that are associated with listeriosis are raw milk, soft cheeses, vegetables, and many ready to eat meats like hot dogs, deli meats and pâtés.
Those at greatest risk of serious listeria infection include pregnant women, newborns, the elderly, and adults with weakened immune systems (AIDS patients have a significantly high chance, up to 300 times, of contracting the disease).
Most healthy persons show no symptoms of this disease. Initial symptoms of food borne listeriosis include fever, muscle aches, fatigue and sometimes gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Primarily in high risk groups but occasionally in healthy adults, the infection can spread to the blood and central nervous system where it can cause sepsis and meningitis.
Due to a naturally depressed immune system, pregnant women are about 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to contract this disease. Though many women may only experience mild flu-likesymptoms,infections during pregnancy can have devastating consequences to the fetus which include stillbirth or miscarriage, premature delivery and serious infections in the newborn.
What things can you do to prevent this infection? The US CDC offers recommendations to the generalpublic and high risk groups:
• Thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources, such as beef, pork, or poultry.
• Wash raw vegetables thoroughly before eating.
• Keep uncooked meats separate from vegetables and from cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods.
• Avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk or foods made from unpasteurized milk.
• Wash hands, knives, and cutting boards after handling uncooked foods.
• Consume perishable and ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible
Recommendations for persons at high risk, such as pregnant women and persons with weakened immune systems, in addition to the recommendations listed above:
• Do not eat hot dogs, luncheon meats, or deli meats, unless they are reheated until steaming hot.
• Avoid getting fluid from hot dog packages on other foods, utensils, and food preparation surfaces, and wash hands after handling hot dogs, luncheon meats, and deli meats.
• Do not eat soft cheeses such as feta, Brie, and Camembert, blue-veined cheeses, or Mexican-style cheeses such as queso blanco, queso fresco, and Panela, unless they have labels that clearly state they are made from pastuerized milk.
• Do not eat refrigerated pâtés or meat spreads. Canned or shelf-stable pâtés and meat spreads may be eaten.
• Do not eat refrigerated smoked seafood, unless it is contained in a cooked dish, such as a casserole. Refrigerated smoked seafood, such as salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna or mackerel, is most often labeled as “nova-style,” “lox,” “kippered,” “smoked,” or “jerky.” The fish is found in the refrigeratorsection or sold at deli counters of grocery stores and delicatessens. Canned or shelf-stable smoked seafood may be eaten.
This very hardy bacterium can survive and even grow at refrigeration temperature. Because of this factor, Listeria presents challenges in food safety.