New York State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine today warned consumers in and around Chautauqua County to not consume “unpasteurized” raw farm milk from Castle Farms due to possible E. coli O157:H7 contamination.

Castle Farms, located at 1051 Route 249 in Irving, New York, holds a Department permit to legally sell raw milk at the farm. Samples of the milk are routinely tested by the New York State Food Laboratory to determine if the raw milk is free of pathogenic bacteria.

A routine sample of the milk was taken on June 4, 2012 by an inspector from the Department’s Division of Milk Control and Dairy Services and subsequently tested and discovered to be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. On June 7, 2012, the producer was notified of a preliminary positive test result and who volunteered to suspend raw milk sales until the sample results were confirmed. Test results were confirmed on June 12, 2012 and the producer is now prohibited from selling raw milk until subsequent sampling indicates that the product is free of harmful pathogens.

E. coli O157:H7 causes a diarrheal illness often with bloody stools. Although most healthy adults can recover completely within a week, some people can develop a form of kidney failure called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). HUS is most likely to occur in young children and the elderly. The condition can lead to serious kidney damage and even death.

It is important to note that raw milk does not provide the protection of pasteurization, which eliminates all pathogenic bacteria, including E. coli O157:H7. Producers who sell raw milk to consumers must have a permit to do so from the Department, must sell directly to consumers on the farm where the milk is produced and must post a notice at the point of sale indicating that raw milk does not provide the protection of pasteurization. Farms with permits to sell raw milk are inspected by the Department monthly.

To date, no illnesses are known by the Department to be associated with product from Castle Farms.