ONTARIO: Guelph-area health unit issues warning about unpasteurized milk
GUELPH -- “If you drink raw milk, you risk illness and death,” is the sharp message of Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health.
With a high-profile raw milk court case re-emerging in the media, the current top item on the regional health unit’s online home page is titled Health Risks of Drinking Raw Milk.
Given that heightened awareness, the health agency concluded “we should put a reminder up for people,” said Scott Hutchison, a health protection division program manager.
“From our perspective, the concern is the transmission of various communicable diseases. Milk is a good vehicle for many harmful organisms,” he said, citing E. coli, salmonella and listeria.
“The only way that you can really effectively kill those organisms and render the milk safe for consumption is to pasteurize it.”
Hutchison stressed raw milk isn’t a theoretical threat, which is why the health board notice has a link to a provincial government document noting recent outbreaks in Ontario. They include 92 reported cases between 2005 and 2007 from unpasteurized milk and cheese. Many involved campylobacteriosis, causing diarrhea, vomiting, fever, nausea and pain, and some resulting from E. coli.
A court decision involving outspoken raw milk and local-food advocate Michael Schmidt, a Durham farmer west of Guelph, is expected in July, prompting the local health board’s raw milk warning.