Real Raw Milk Facts

Abstract: Salmonella, Listeria, And E. coli Virulence Factors in Bulk Tank Raw Milk

Van Kessel JA, Karns JS, Lombard JE, Kopral CA. Prevalence of Salmonella enterica, Listeria monocytogenes, and Escherichia coli Virulence Factors in Bulk Tank Milk and In-Line Filters from U.S. Dairies. J Food Prot. 2011 May;74(5):759-68.


The zoonotic bacteria Salmonella enterica, Listeria monocytogenes, and Escherichia coli are known to infect dairy cows while not always causing clinical signs of disease. These pathogens are sometimes found in raw milk, and human disease outbreaks due to these organisms have been associated with the consumption of raw milk or raw milk products. Bulk tank milk (BTM) samples (536) and in-line milk filters (519) collected from dairy farms across the United States during the National Animal Health Monitoring System’s Dairy 2007 study were analyzed by real-time PCR for the presence of S. enterica and pathogenic forms of E. coli and by culture techniques for the presence of L. monocytogenes. S. enterica was detected in samples from 28.1% of the dairy operations, primarily in milk filters. Salmonella was isolated from 36 of 75 PCR-positive BTM samples and 105 of 174 PCR-positive filter samples, and the isolates were serotyped. Cerro, Kentucky, Muenster, Anatum, and Newport were the most common serotypes. L. monocytogenes was isolated from 7.1% of the dairy operations, and the 1/2a complex was the most common serotype, followed by 1/2b and 4b (lineage 1). Shiga toxin genes were detected in enrichments from 15.2% of the BTM samples and from 51.0% of the filters by real-time PCR. In most cases, the cycle threshold values for the PCR indicated that toxigenic strains were not a major part of the enrichment populations. These data confirm those from earlier studies showing significant contamination of BTM by zoonotic bacterial pathogens and that the consumption of raw milk and raw milk products presents a health risk.

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