4 Raw Milk-Related Illnesses In Md. Traced To Pennsylvania Dairy

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– After an 11-day shutdown, a Pennsylvania dairy is allowed to re-open after raw milk it sold sickened 43 people, four of them here in Maryland.

Alex DeMetrick reports the risk of becoming sick is why Maryland bans the sale of raw milk.

When it comes to raw milk, Maryland farmers know which way the wind blows.

“I would be fine with raw milk if someone could make it as safe as my pasteurized milk. The dilemma is, no one can,” said dairy farmer Chuck Fry.

And in Maryland, no one is allowed to sell it. But in Pennsylvania it is legal, and 43 cases of a bacterial infection have been traced back to raw milk sales from a dairy there.

Raw milk brought into Maryland produced diarrhea and fever in four of those cases.

Fry says the risks aren’t worth it.

“What’s wrong with raw milk? It’s just like water,” Fry said. “I love water. I drink tons of water, but I would never go down to the Potomac and drink it right out of the Potomac.”

Here’s why. Milk comes out of a cow at 110 degrees, and the longer it stays warm, the greater the chance for harmful bacteria to grow.

So dairy farms immediately move it into huge cooling tanks, where the temperature is lowered. That milk is then shipped cold for processing, where it is pasteurized and bottled. And in most states including Maryland, it is the only kind sold.

Besides state law banning raw milk sales, there is the issue of liability if someone becomes ill.

“And it only takes one incident for a non-insurable problem to lose your farm,” Fry said.

And after four generations, Fry isn’t gambling the farm or the safety of his milk.

Pennsylvania’s health department reports seven disease outbreaks linked to raw milk since 2006.

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