Investigations have started following the confirmation of six food poisoning cases in South Lakeland.
Six cases of campylobacter have been linked to the consumption of unpasteurised (raw) milk at Low Sizergh Barn Farm, Kendal.
South Lakeland District Council’s (SLDC’s) environmental health officers are supporting the investigation, which is being led by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
Inquiries are ongoing but experts believe the most likely cause of the outbreak is consumption of raw milk, probably from a vending machine on the site.
The business owner is helping with inquiries and in the meantime has voluntarily agreed to suspend the sales of raw milk to the public.
Campylobacter is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK. The bacteria are usually found on raw or undercooked meat (particularly poultry), unpasteurised milk, and untreated water.
The incubation period (the time between eating contaminated food and the start of symptoms) for food poisoning caused by campylobacter is usually between two and five days, but can be up to 10 days. The symptoms usually last less than a week.
Campylobacter poisoning usually leads to symptoms that include abdominal pain, severe diarrhoea and, sometimes, vomiting.
Although not usually serious in healthy adults, it can be more serious in young children or someone vulnerable to the effects of dehydration, such as the elderly and those with a pre-existing health condition.
Anyone who may have consumed raw milk from Low Sizergh Barn and thinks they may have campylobacter food poisoning should contact a health professional if their symptoms are severe or don’t start to improve in a few days. If they have recently purchased raw milk from the site they are being advised not to drink it.
A spokesman for SLDC said: “The number of confirmed cases is small but it is important that we let people know about the situation in case others have been affected.
“The FSA is leading on the ongoing investigation at the farm and they are working to ensure measures are in place to prevent the public consuming unsafe products. Unpasteurised milk was removed from sale at the premises as soon as the cambylobacter results were confirmed.’’
An FSA spokesperson said: “Long-standing FSA advice has been that vulnerable people – that’s older people, infants, children, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems – are particularly vulnerable to food poisoning and that is why these groups should not be consuming raw drinking milk because it has not been heat treated.”
If you have visited this farm shop (including tea room) in the last two months please click on this link to fill in a simple survey from Public Health England North West: http://bit.ly/2hvk7Ua
For further information about campylobacter food poisoning and treatments see: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Food-poisoning/Pages/Treatment.aspx