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Wisconsin dairy industry unfazed by CDC report on foodborne illnesses

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MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Wisconsin’s dairy industry does not appear to be alarmed by a new finding that dairy items cause the second-highest number of foodborne illnesses.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recently said dairy products accounted for 1.3 million illnesses from 1998 to 2008, second only to leafy vegetables. And dairy items caused 10 percent of foodborne deaths, and 16 percent of hospitalizations.

Marianne Smukowski of the UW-Madison Center for Dairy Research said there’s no pattern of any problems at Wisconsin’s dairy processing plants. She says there are not many product recalls, and the industry continues to have a good reputation.

Steve Ingham of the state Ag Department says pasteurization problems are rare at Wisconsin dairy plants.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the biggest concern appears to be with unpasteurized raw milk. Wisconsin considered legalizing farm sales of raw milk in 2010. The Legislature approved it, but former Governor Jim Doyle vetoed it, out of fears that illnesses from raw milk would hurt the dairy industry world-famous reputation.

Raw milk supporters continue to push for a new bill – but it has not gone anywhere in Madison over the past couple years. 

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