Raw milk products produced by Organic Pastures of Fresno County have been released from a statewide quarantine that began May 10. CDFA imposed the quarantine in response to the detection of campylobacter bacteria, and notification from the California Department of Public Health of reported campylobacter food-borne illnesses in persons consuming Organic Pastures raw milk. CDPH also isolated Campylobacter jejuni from six samples of the dairy’s raw cream, one sample of raw butter and four samples of cow manure from the milking herd.
The facility was required to meet all sanitation requirements and comply with food safety regulations under state law before the quarantine could be lifted. During the quarantine, the facility was prohibited from producing raw milk products for the retail market.
According to CDPH, symptoms of campylobacteriosis include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever. Most people with campylobacteriosis recover completely. Illness usually occurs 2 to 5 days after exposure to campylobacter and lasts about a week. The illness is usually mild and some people with campylobacteriosis have no symptoms at all. However, in some persons with compromised immune systems, it can cause a serious, life-threatening infection. A small percentage of people may have joint pain and swelling after infection. In addition, a rare disease called Guillain-Barre syndrome that causes weakness and paralysis can occur several weeks after the initial illness.
The great majority of milk consumed in California is pasteurized. Raw milk is not pasteurized. Pasteurization is a process that kills harmful bacteria. In California, state law requires that raw milk and raw milk products shall bear the following warning on the label: “Warning – raw (unpasteurized) milk and raw milk dairy products may contain disease-causing micro-organisms. Persons at highest risk of disease from these organisms include newborns and infants; the elderly; pregnant women; those taking corticosteroids, antibiotics or antacids; and those having chronic illnesses or other conditions that weaken their immunity.”