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Hillman, MN (KROC-AM News) - State health officials say at least 8 people have become ill from foodborne illnesses linked to raw milk produced at a farm in central Minnesota.

The State Department of Health issued an advisory Friday afternoon urging anyone who may have recently purchased milk from Healthy Harvest Farm and Kitchen to discard the product and not consume it. The product may be labeled natural A2 milk and consumers may not be aware it is unpasteurized. The milk came from a farm in Hillman in Morrison County.

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The illnesses involved cryptosporidiosis and one person also had an E. coli infection. Both the parasite and the bacteria are commonly found in cattle and investigators say the Cryptosporidium had related subtypes that suggest a common source.

All of the affected people became ill in early August with gastrointestinal symptoms and all of them reported purchasing or consuming raw milk from Healthy Harvest Farm and Kitchen. Four of the patients are under the age of 10 and one has been hospitalized.

“Cattle can naturally carry Cryptosporidium and E. coli in their digestive system and shed these germs in their manure even though the animal is not sick. Contamination of the milk with manure can occur during the milking process, and if the milk is not pasteurized, the germs will not be killed,” said Carrie Klumb, senior epidemiologist in the Zoonotic Diseases Unit at MDH. “Consuming any unpasteurized milk, no matter how well the animals are cared for and how clean the operation is, puts people at risk for getting sick.”

A health department news release says raw or "natural" milk has not gone through the pasteurization process that heats the milk to a high temperature for a short time to kill harmful germs. The statement goes on to say that pasteurization is the only effective method for eliminating germs in raw milk and does not significantly change its nutritional value.

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