Milk and Dairy

Environmental problems on dairy farms include poor ventilation, poor lighting, poor physical facilities, waste handling, flies, rodents, improper handling of chemicals and pesticides, improper cleaning up and sanitizing of pipelines, bulk tanks and milking equipment, inadequate refrigeration and improper storage areas. Of particular concern are: the safety of processing water; the condition and cleanliness of food contact surfaces; and the potential for cross-contamination. The protection of the milk and milk products, including the packaging material, the control of employee health and personal hygiene, and the exclusion of insects, especially flies, and rodents from animal areas and food processing areas are also of paramount concern. The amount of foodborne disease involving milk has dropped dramatically from 25% in 1938 to less than 1% today. Although milk and milk products may be pasteurized, they still can become contaminated as the product is used or actually misused. Unpasteurized milk and milk products continue to lead to outbreaks of foodborne disease.

In some states, individuals are allowed to purchase raw milk because some people think that it is healthier for children. People are allowed to also purchase a part of the cow which is a way of getting around the requirement for pasteurization. This is an extremely dangerous procedure. There are frequent outbreaks of disease from unpasteurized milk. Unpasteurized milk does not have any health benefits beyond those conferred by pasteurized milk and even if it had, it would not be worth the risk of giving children foodborne diseases.

Although L. monocytogenes is not supposed to grow at freezing temperatures, an outbreak of this organism resulting in sickness and death occurred in 2015. This resulted in a massive recall of ice cream by the company producing it and rigorous cleaning of the entire facility, equipment, and piping systems and an intensive sanitizing program. Testing protocols, policies, and procedures and intensive employee training programs should be revised. Studies were conducted concerning the cause of the outbreak and potential or actual sources of the microorganism. An independent microbiological expert had been contracted to establish and review all controls to prevent further similar outbreaks of disease. The state agencies were notified immediately of any problems that had been found at the plant and how the plant responded. If a positive test for the microorganism or others that may cause disease was found for any batch, the batch was immediately retained and disposed of properly. (See endnote 57.)

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