December 26, 2002
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Health department finds tainted milk at Young’s

The unpasteurized milk that was suspected of being the culprit in the bacterial contamination at Young’s Jersey Dairy and Golden Jersey Inn has tested positive for salmonella. According to the Clark County Combined Health District, skim milk bottled on Nov. 29, was contaminated with salmonella.

“We think that all the raw milk that was bottled on that same day will be implicated,” Clark County Health Commissioner Charles Patterson said Monday. “But we’re still honing in on how it happened.”

The number of confirmed cases infected with the salmonella poisoning is still on the rise. Since last week the number of cases has risen from 8 to 30 people. Of the 30, four Young’s food handlers have tested positive for the bacteria, and preliminary results show another 11 have also tested positive.

All of the employees with possible contamination have stopped food service work, Young’s owner Dan Young said.

Though only milk bottled on Nov. 29 has tested positive, it could have been sitting on the shelf for up to four days after that date, before any of the contamination had been discovered, Young said. Customers could have purchased contaminated milk as late as Dec. 3.

Tests showed that whole milk bottled prior to Nov. 29 and purchased on that date did not have salmonella. Additional milk testing is going on, according to a press release from the Clark County Combined Health District.

“I feel better that we’ve found something, and it seems like there’s no current problem anymore,” Young said. “But we’re not going to stop searching until we’ve exhausted every avenue that seems remotely likely to have caused it.”

The possibilities are endless, but the Health District is continuing to test employees, and health officials are starting to sample Young’s 30 milking cows.

All the milk Young’s sells is unpasteurized, and it was all pulled from the shelves on Dec. 13.

Young says he is not sure whether the restaurants will sell unpasteurized milk in the future, though he noted that his milk has been safe for the 50 years the business has been open.

“We’ll evaluate things when we get done with all this, though the safety of the customers is always our highest priority,” he said.

Milk sales constitute 1.5 percent of sales, which Young feels is a “pretty significant part” of the business. And he said business seemed a little slower recently.

“Over the last week business has certainly been affected by the news,” he said. “But this is usually a slow week for us, people are all out at the malls anyway.”

Young’s uses pasteurized milk in its ice cream.

There are 34 additional suspected salmonella cases. The lab results of these tests are expected in the next few days, Patterson said. The health department sent stool samples from 100 additional Young’s employees to the lab Monday, Dec. 23, to be analyzed.

The infection cases have been confirmed in nine counties in Ohio, in addition to one case in Chicago and two suspected cases in Indiana. The counties include Butler, Clark, Greene, Madison, Montgomery, Shelby, Highland, Hamilton, Preble, Miami and Warren.

The health department is continuing its search efforts in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Health. Food service inspectors have been monitoring food handling and prep training at Young’s since Dec. 10 and will be there until the problem is resolved.

According to the Health District, the onset of salmonella food poisoning symptoms takes place 6 to 72 hours after coming into contact with the bacteria. Symptoms can last several days and include abdominal pain, diarrhea, chills, fever, nausea, vomiting and malaise.

—Lauren Heaton