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Doneen Hollingsworth, Secretary of Health
South Dakota Department of Health

Food Safety and Raw Milk

In response to recent questions about food safety issues related to raw milk consumption, the Department of Health provides the following information.

The consumption of raw milk and products made with raw milk poses a significant risk of food-borne illness such as campylobacteriosis, E. coli, salmonellosis, listeriosis, and brucellosis. Adherence to good hygiene practices during milking may reduce the risk of such contamination but does not eliminate that risk. Pasteurization is the only way to ensure that fluid milk products do not contain harmful bacteria. Pasteurization has been widely used for more than 100 years and has significantly improved the public health and safety, preventing contagious diseases from salmonellosis to typhoid fever. Individuals at highest risk for illness from contaminated milk include young children, pregnant women, those with weakened immune systems.

Campylobacteriosis is one bacterial infection associated with the consumption of raw  milk. It affects the intestinal tract and, rarely, the blood. The bacteria is spread by consuming contaminated foods or liquids such as milk or water. Campylobacteriosis may cause mild or severe diarrhea, often with fever and traces of blood in the stool. It can also cause abdominal pain, vomiting, fever, nausea, and malaise. Symptoms generally appear 2 to 5 days, occasionally up to 10 days, after eating or drinking the contaminated food or drink.

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