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Pennsylvania sues farm selling raw milk linked to E. coli sicknesses

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CBS News Pittsburgh Live

HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA) -- The state is suing a Lancaster County farm, claiming its raw milk is suspected in two recent E. coli illnesses. 

The Pennsylvania attorney general's office and the state Department of Agriculture have filed a lawsuit against Miller's Organic Farm after authorities say they've been trying to bring it into compliance with the law for years.  

The complaint submitted Tuesday alleges the violation of multiple laws, including Pennsylvania's Milk Sanitation Law and the Food Safety Act. 

Two recent E. coli illnesses reported by other state's departments of health are suspected to have originated from Miller's Organic Farm raw milk, the attorney general's office said. And when the Department of Agriculture took samples of the farm's raw milk and raw milk products earlier this month, it tested positive for Listeria.

The attorney general's office said it's been trying to bring Miller's Organic Farm into compliance since 2019.

"For years, this business has brushed off efforts to bring its commercial farm operation into compliance with the law — as all commercial farms are required to do," Attorney General Michelle Henry said in a news release. "We cannot ignore the illnesses and further potential harm posed by distribution of these unregulated products. We have long had food safety laws in this Commonwealth to protect the public from harm. Pennsylvanians should know what is in the products they and their families are consuming."

On its website, Miller's Organic Farm says raw milk that has been produced under sanitary and healthy conditions is safe to drink. However, the CDC calls raw milk "one of the riskiest foods," saying when milk isn't pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria, it can cause serious illness or even death.    

"Following good hygiene practices on the farm and during milking can reduce the chance of milk contamination – but not eliminate it," the CDC writes, adding that small numbers of bacteria can multiply and grow in milk from the time it's collected until someone drinks it. 

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