49abcnews.com reported last week that at least 87 Kansans had become ill with Campylobacter infections after consuming raw dairy products in November.  The outbreaks were caused by raw cheese and raw milk – both products that have been identified as past food poisoning outbreaks, including E. coli and Salmonella outbreaks. 

In the first outbreak in southwest Kansas, 68 people became ill after eating cheese made from raw (unpasteurized) milk donated by a local dairy for a community celebration. Nineteen people were ill enough to seek medical attention, and two people were hospitalized. Four of these persons tested positive for Campylobacter jejuni; no other food items served at the event were associated with illness.

The second outbreak is linked to a dairy in south central Kansas that sells raw milk directly to consumers. As of November 30, 2007, 19 cases of campylobacteriosis had been reported. Each person reported drinking raw milk purchased from the dairy.

The International Food Safety Network and other food safety advocates have repeatedly warned about the dangers of consuming "raw", or unpasteurized, milk, cheese, and other dairy products.  In May, Braw Surgeoner of iFSN wrote on the organization’s blog:

Every week in the U.S. there is a report of unpasteurized milk testing positive for listeria or salmonella or E. coli or campylobacter (see Contamination shows up in dairy, Capital Press, May 18/07); every month there is a report of people, largely children, sickened after consuming unpasteurized milk in the misguided belief that all things natural are good.

She lists previous foodborne illness outbreaks linked to unpasteurized dairy products in the post, then counters raw milk advocates’ claims that unpasteurized milk is safe.  Read the entire iFSN post on raw milk here.