March 27, 2012
Claravale Farm in Paicines has issued a recall for raw milk and cream, including goat milk.
Claravale voluntarily ceased distribution of its products March 19 after the California Department of Food and Agriculture reported a preliminary positive test for the bacteria Campylobacter in raw cream.
Tuesday morning after the positive tests were confirmed, State Veterinarian Annette Whiteford ordered a quarantine on the potentially contaminated products.
The County Health Department is urging consumers to dispose of any raw milk product from Claravale with code dates of March 27 (appearing on bottles as MAR 27) and earlier.
No related illnesses have been confirmed, but the California Department of Public Health is currently conducting an epidemiological investigation of reported clusters of associated illness that could be related to raw milk consumption.
Campylobacter can cause Campylobacteriosis; symptoms include diarrhea, cramps and fever, usually appearing two to five days after exposure, and lasting up to a week. The illness is usually mild, and some people have no symptoms at all. However, it can cause life-threatening infection of lead to a rare syndrome causing paralysis in a small percentage of patients.
Cambylobacter is the most common foodborne bacteria, says Monterey County Health Officer Hugh Stallworth. "Generally, it is fairly benign. But someone that has a compromised immune system can get sicker."
Proponents of raw milk contend the health benefits exceed the risk—nutrient availability versus bacterial exposure—but as even Claravale acknowledges on its website, "No food is 100 percent safe."
But, the dairy's website continues, only 50 percent of calcium and 10 percent of enzymes remain after heating milk in the process of pasteurization, and amino acids break down. Raw milk keeps these nutritional components metabolically available.
"Drinking raw milk means taking a real risk of getting very sick,” Stallworth says. "Any kind of animal products, if not cooked or heated to a high enough temperature to kill bacteria, can carry bacteria. This is why we ask people to cook their meat."
Stallworth says the revolutionary process of pasteurization—heating milk and holding it at a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria—has been a public health game-changer, and strongly recommends people should stick with the safer alternative.
Stallworth has never tasted raw milk. "It can be a dangerous game," he says.
Photo courtesy A Culinary (Photo) Journal via Flickr