November 28, 2006
Media Release

Avoid unpasteurized, raw milk and milk products

NEWMARKET–. York Region Health Services reminds residents to drink and eat only pasteurized milk and
milk products.  The pasteurizing process destroys disease-producing organisms that cause bacteria-related
illnesses, including Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria  and E.coli 0157:H7.   These bacteria can
cause meningitis, encephalitis, septicemia, endocarditis, spontaneous abortion and tissue abscesses.
Certain groups, such as the young, elderly, ill, pregnant women or immunocompromised are at increased
“Unpasteurized milk has been proven to cause many outbreaks,” said Dr. Karim Kurji, Acting Medical
Officer of Health and Director of Public Health Programs. “Unpasteurized milk provides an ideal medium for
pathogens to grow.  Under ideal conditions E.coli can double in just twenty minutes,” he added.
Since 1938, strict legislation has made it mandatory for all Ontario dairy farmers to sell or distribute only
pasteurized milk.  Therefore, milk and other milk products that are sold commercially through grocery
stores and food markets are safe for consumption.
Pasteurization is a heating process over time.  Commercially, milk is heated to 72 degrees Celsius for 16 seconds at the dairy processing plant.  This process destroys disease producing organisms including E.coli 0157:H7. 
Under the Health Protection and Promotion Act of Ontario, selling or distributing unpasteurized milk is
prohibited. In 1994, York Region Health Services issued an order against an Ontario farmer for the
distribution of unpasteurized milk and milk products in York Region. 
In 2005, three cases of E. coli 0157:H7 in Simcoe County were directly linked to the consumption of
unpasteurized milk.  The Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit was informed that the families received the
milk in question from an individual who routinely distributed milk from a parked vehicle.
If you have consumed unpasteurized milk or milk products and are experiencing any of the symptoms
listed above, you should seek medical attention immediately. 
If you want to report the selling, delivering or distributing of unpasteurized milk and milk products, please
contact the Ministry of Agriculture and Food’s complaint line at 1-888-466-2372 extension 64391.
For more information on this or other health-related questions, please contact York Region Health Services
Health Connection at 1-800-361-5353 (toll free) or visit
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Media Contact: Jennifer Mitchell-Emmerson, York Region Health Services
 Phone:  (905) 830-4444 ext. 4016 or After-hours Cell (905) 716-2717

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