Montco farm barred from selling raw milk

By Margaret Gibbons, Special to The Mercury



Source of Article:


,NORRISTOWN A Montgomery County dairy farm, which is linked to a bacteria outbreak that has sickened more than 10 people, remains barred from selling raw milk.

The state Department of Agriculture Wednesday received back laboratory test results, with one group of samples testing negative for the campylobacter bacteria and the other sample testing positive, according to department press secretary Chris Ryder.

The Hendricks Farm and Dairy of Telford's state-issued raw milk license will remain suspended until at least the end of the week when the results of additional lab tests are expected, said Ryder.

The samples testing negative were those gathered by the department from the farm's bulk milk tank on Sept. 11, said Ryder.

However, the refrigerated sample of milk provided by a Bucks County resident who suffered a bacteria infection after drinking raw milk purchased at Hendricks came back positive, according to Ryder.

To date, there are 11 confirmed cases of a gastrointestinal illness linked to raw milk (unpasteurized milk) purchased from the dairy, according to the state Department of Health.

Five of those cases involved Montgomery County residents living in the Harleysville, Pennsburg, Huntingdon Valley and Telford areas, according to county health department spokeswoman Harriet Morton.

"That number could climb further," said Morton, explaining that 21 other residents have reported becoming ill after drinking raw milk purchased from the dairy.

Some of the 21 have been tested and the health department is awaiting those results, said Morton.

Up until its license was suspended, the dairy farm sold an average of 600 gallons of raw milk a week to more than 300 families. It is one of 114 dairy farms licensed in the state to sell raw milk products.

The farm, on its Web site, said that it has never had a positive bacteria test in its seven years of history.

The most recent posting on the Web site states that the independent laboratory used by the farm reported no negative findings in the same sample batch taken by the state.

"We are grateful that the state is watching out for consumers and we expect to be re-instated soon," the farm said in a statement on the Web site.

"To reiterate, (the independent laboratory) has never had a positive pathogen test from any samples taken directly from our farm," the statement said. "Any statements to the contrary are false and misleading. We are tremendously grateful (to the public) for your support and look forward to continuing to serve our community."

Campylobacter bacteria can be found in raw or undercooked fruits, vegetables, poultry and meat, unprocessed water and unpasteurized dairy products. The bacteria can also be contracted through direct contact with animals including cattle, dogs and cats, poultry, rodents and birds.

To date, there have been 68 cases of campylobacteriosis reported this year in the county. There were 91 cases in 2007.

The county averages between 80 and 90 confirmed cases a year while the state averages about 1,300 cases.

Persons wanting more information about campylobacter infections can contact the county health department at 610-278-5117, call the state health department at 1-877-PA-HEALTH or visit its Web site at or go to the federal Centers for Disease Control's Web site at




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