Health officials claim that the milk from Whittier Farms dairy in Shrewsbury has caused the death of 3 elderly men and caused one women to miscarriage since last June because the milk was contaminated with listeria.
Whittier Farms is popular because they still deliver milk to your door in glass bottles and the milk does not contain added hormones.
All were infected with listeria, which is extremely rare in pasteurized milk. It is more often found in raw foods, such as uncooked meat and vegetables, and processed foods such as soft cheeses and cold cuts. The outbreak is believed to be only the third time listeria has ever been linked to pasteurized milk in the United States. Listeria bacteria are often present in manure and are commonly found in soil and water. Pasteurization is supposed to kill listeria.
Tests that were completed at the plant do not show anything wrong with the pasteurization process and now health investigators are testing the cooling and bottling machinery for the source of the problem. So far the investigators have taken around 70 samples from all over the plant.
The dairy, which also has a 500-acre farm in Sutton, has stopped all operations until the source of the bacteria is found and the problem is rectified. The Whittier family has sent letters to its customers saying they are “extremely concerned about the situation” and are cooperating fully with authorities.
Symptoms of listeria include fever, nausea and diarrhea. Ingesting this kind of bacteria can cause serious illness or death in pregnant women, newborns, the elderly and patients who have compromised immune systems.
DNA testing on the four patients with listeria from Whittier Farms showed they all carried the same strain of listeria, which suggests that the bacteria had a common source. Once this was found, the families of the deceased were interviewed to help pinpoint the source.
At about the same time, a health worker at the hospital where an 88-year-old man was diagnosed with listeriosis learned that the man had had unpasteurized cider and coffee-flavored pasteurized milk. When both drinks were tested, only the pasteurized milk — from Whittier Farms — came back positive. Officials then found listeria in an unopened container at the dairy’s store in Shrewsbury.
For more information on this subject, please refer to our section on Defective and Dangerous Products.