Pa. dairy operation suspended due to bacteria found in milk

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ALIQUIPPA, Pa. — Production at a Beaver County dairy has been suspended for the second time since July by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health. Brunton Dairy had just reopened Oct. 1.

All consumers and retailers who purchased milk from the dairy were instructed Oct. 28 to discard all milk with a sell-by date of Oct. 25 or later.

As part of ongoing oversight testing of the dairy, the department of agriculture confirmed a positive test result for Yersinia bacteria from pasteurized, homogenized fat-free milk in a gallon glass bottle with a date code (sell-by date) of Oct. 25. The PDA was performing random samplings and found the bacteria.

Milk production has been suspended at the facility until additional testing is completed. It could take between two and three weeks for testing to be completed.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the farm is diverting the milk being produced to another fluid processing facility. The PDA said Brunton Dairy is fully cooperating with the investigation.

Herb Brunton, one of the three brothers who own the business, said they are complying with whatever the PDA tells them to do in order to find the culprit.

The problem is that all of the equipment has been tested and no one can figure out what might be causing the problem.

“It’s like funding a needle in a haystack,” said Brunton.

The farm is milking about 100 cows, but the family fears the economic impact of this latest shutdown.

“The first time we weathered it. This one is going to be tougher,” said Brunton.

Symptoms

Yersinia enterocolitica causes diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, and it can sometimes enter the bloodstream and affect other organs.

Brunton said the bacteria is normally killed during the pasteurization process.

Onset of illness usually occurs four to six days after exposure, but can be as short as one day or as long as two weeks. This infection can be severe, and illness can mimic appendicitis and sometimes lead to unnecessary surgery.

Any person who consumed a product from Brunton Dairy and has symptoms of diarrhea or abdominal pain should contact their healthcare provider to assure appropriate specimens are collected and treatment is given.

Background

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the dairy was shut down in July after 16 individuals became ill with diarrhea and other symptoms, which was reportedly traced to the bacteria, Yersinia enterocolitica.

However, none of the samples taken from the dairy ever posted a positive reading for the bacteria in the first incidence and random samplings taken Sept. 30 showed no signs of the bacteria.

Brunton Dairy sells milk in half gallon glass bottles in white, 2 percent, 1 percent, skim milk cream, chocolate, strawberry and buttermilk. In addition, the dairy produces ice cream in five flavors.

The dairy makes home deliveries and sells products at several retail stores in Beaver, Butler and Allegheny counties.

About the Author

Kristy Foster Seachrist lives in Columbiana County raising sheep and horses. She earned her degree from Youngstown State University and has worked in both print and broadcast journalism. You can follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/fosterk96. More Stories by Kristy Foster Seachrist

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