Outbreak linked to raw milk

Last updated 11:23 28/03/2014

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A recent outbreak of campylobacter in Timaru has been blamed on raw milk.

Seven people have been confirmed as having campylobacter after purchasing raw milk from Timaru Village Milk on the outskirts of Timaru.

South Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Daniel Williams believes the seven cases are the tip the iceberg.

''Drinking raw milk is risky for your health. It can contain disease-causing bacteria and other organisms which can lead to gastroenteritis and other illnesses, some of which can be life-threatening,'' Dr Williams said.

Timaru Village Milk has been temporarily closed since Wednesday and a notice on the Village Milk Facebook page says milk will not be sold until test results show that the milk is clear for two days.

"There will not be a resumption of milk sales until we are sure the milk is safe."

The young, elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems are at greatest risk.

''Most milk sold in New Zealand is pasteurised, which means it has been heated to kill harmful bugs.''

Dr Williams said even drinking raw milk from suppliers with the highest hygiene and safety standards can be dangerous as any raw cow milk can contain bugs.

If a person felt unwell within a week of consuming raw milk, Dr Williams advised they contact their General Practice team.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has conducted an investigation of the milk producer.

New Zealand legislation allows producers to sell up to five litres of raw milk daily at the farm gate to buyers who purchase it for themselves or their family.

Consumers can reduce the risk of getting sick from drinking raw milk by heating raw milk up to 70 degree Celcius for one minute or to 63C for 30 minutes.  

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- The Timaru Herald

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