The Maryland Department of Health has confirmed the presence of the bacteria campylobacter in two samples of raw milk from a south-central Pennsylvania dairy.
The Family Cow dairy in Chambersburg stopped selling its raw milk voluntarily following reports that some customers fell ill with an infection from the bacteria. It can trigger stomach ache, vomiting and nausea.
Now, 38 people in four states, including Pennsylvanians in Delaware and Bucks counties, have gotten sick. Some have been hospitalized.
West Philadelphia customer Meghan Filoromo said the outbreak is not enough to scare her away from unpasteurized milk.
“I’m almost more interested in supporting them through this tough period, because I think it’s really important that raw milk is available in Pennsylvania, so I want to continue to support it,” Filoromo said.
The dairy emailed customers Friday to apologize and say that it is waiting on approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to resume milk sales.
The department is waiting for test results from its own samples.
According to the state health department, since 2006, almost 200 people in Pennsylvania have gotten sick in at least seven outbreaks of illness linked to raw milk consumption.
Still, customers who say raw milk tastes better and is healthier than the pasteurized version are not easily deterred.
Pam Nelson is co-owner of Harvest Local Foods, which delivers local and organic foods to homes in Philadelphia and its suburbs. She said the outbreak is not depressing sales of other brands of raw milk they carry.
“Raw milk sales have remained the same as usual,” Nelson said. “What I find is that those who are really into raw milk really love it, and it would probably take a lot for them to decide not to drink it.”
Sales of unpasteurized milk is legal in Pennsylvania but illegal in 20 other states, including New Jersey.