Listeria outbreak tied to Lancaster County organic dairy, CDC says

Katherine Ranzenberger

The Pennsylvania Department of Health said in a news release Monday that two cases of listeriosis have been linked to a Lancaster County dairy selling raw milk to private buyers around the U.S.

Listeriosis outbreak linked to Lancaster dairy. John Pavoncello photo illustration

Both cases occurred out of state in 2014 — one in California and one in Florida. The Florida victim died from the illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There have been no reported cases in Pennsylvania.

Listeria bacteria found in a November 2015 batch of chocolate milk from Miller’s Organic Farm in Bird-in-Hand was closely tied genetically to the bacteria in the out-of-state cases, according to the release. The source of the illnesses was unknown until Jan. 29, 2016, according to a news release.

Miller's Organic Farm doesn't sell its products in Pennsylvania. However, it does business through a mail order membership club. The farm isn't licensed or inspected by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

Raw milk is milk from animals such as cows or goats that has not been pasteurized to kill bacteria, including listeria, salmonella and E. coli. Pasteurization is the process of heating the milk to a certain temperature for a certain amount of time to kill those bacteria that might cause foodborne illnesses.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health and CDC are concerned Miller's Organic Farm might still cause contamination of raw milk and dairy products because listeria was recently found in the raw milk products.

The CDC recommends children younger than 5, pregnant women and people older than 65 not consume raw dairy products. Listeria infection symptoms can appear anywhere from four days to three weeks after consumption of the bacteria.

Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, nausea or diarrhea. If the infection spreads to the nervous system, headaches, stiff neck, confusion or convulsions can occur.

Pregnant women who are infected may experience mild, flu-like symptoms, but the CDC warns infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth.

People who consumed raw milk or dairy products and have symptoms are urged to consult their physician and call 877-715-3258 to report their case.

For more information on listeria, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Health website at

— Reach Katherine Ranzenberger at