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Bacteria, Raw Milk Link Reported

January 30, 1986|DANIEL P. PUZO | Times Staff Writer

Medical researchers have linked another strain of harmful bacteria to raw milk, according to a recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.

The authors, Doctor Bruce S. Klein and seven colleagues from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and that state's health department, isolated Campylobacter fetus, from several individuals who became ill after drinking raw milk at a party. The Wisconsin episode is the first time that this particular strain of Campylobacter had been associated with a food poisoning case.

C. fetus thus joins Campylobacter jejuni and several strains of salmonela which, in the past, have been associated with raw milk consumption.

The information reported in the journal surfaced after an analysis of a 1982 contamination in Wisconsin. The problem was identified after 16 people became ill shortly after a banquet on a Waukesha County farm.

Some of the symptoms reported after the event included diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting. A few cases were severe, lingering for as long as 22 days and requiring hospitalization, the journal reported.

After conducting a food history, local health officials discovered that raw milk had been served during the party. The beverage had been supplied by a neighboring farmer and the substance was originally intended to be fed exclusively to horses.

"Raw milk was the only milk served at the banquet and was . . . implicated as the source of the outbreak," the article stated.

Twelve of the 16 people who became ill reported drinking the raw milk.

"Four individuals who reported raw milk consumption at the banquet apparently remained well," the article stated. "Three of these individuals reported daily or occasional raw milk consumption before the event, which is consistent with a previous study's suggestions that chronic exposure to raw milk may lead to immunity to Campylobacter infection."

This latest development adds increasing evidence to claims that Campylobacter is a primarily milk-borne bacteria. The journal's report states that between 1980 and 1982, 61% of all the nation's Campylobacter outbreaks were associated with raw milk consumption.

Fighting Returns--Opponents of mandatory deposits for cans and bottles are marshaling forces to oppose both statewide and local ordinances requiring recycling.

In the forefront of the battle is the supermarket industry which opposes the so-called bottle bills because of the added costs involved with processing the returned containers.

Just such a confrontation is taking shape locally. The Southern California Grocers Assn. is encouraging its membership to oppose a mandatory deposit ordinance currently pending in the Los Angeles City Council. The group argues that the measure is unfeasible and a potential financial burden for food stores and the city.

For those food retailers who might be at a loss to explain their position on the measure to various city council representatives, the grocers organization provides a list of reasons to oppose mandatory deposits.

They suggest that the measure would: Increase the cost of beverages sold locally; reduce (city) tax revenues because consumers may shop elsewhere for non-deposit, taxable beverages; create unsanitary conditions where returned containers are stored.

The group's plan fails to mention that recent polls indicate widespread support throughout California for mandatory deposits. Instead, the grocers gauge public opinion based on a defeated 1982 bottle bill referendum.

Federal Intervention--The grocers opposing the proposed Los Angeles mandatory deposit measure may find themselves with a much larger battle at hand. Currently making its way through the U.S. Senate is a bill sponsored by Sen. Mark Hatfield (R-Ore.) that would require a 5-cent refund on all beverage containers sold in this country.

The legislation would preempt the state and local ordinances currently on record. The Hatfield proposal also carries with it a $1,000 fine for violations.

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