Raw milk producer speaks out about Listeria - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Raw milk producer speaks out about Listeria

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This week, raw milk from a South Dakota dairy farm tested positive for Listeria.

The bacteria can cause flu-like symptoms in relatively healthy people. But it can be serious for people with weakened immune systems.

Friday, the dairy producer of that farm spoke out.

30 years is how long Trever Gilkerson of Jerseydale Farm has been drinking raw milk. Nine years is long he's been selling it to his loyal customers.

To his knowledge, not one person has ever gotten sick from raw milk.

Gilkerson thinks this has all been thrown out of proportion. He says the state is to blame.

The Jerseydale Farm has been passed down from generation to generation of the Gilkerson family. Producing milk is just one facet of the farm's operation.

This past year, the South Dakota Department of Agriculture passed several new regulations for raw milk producers. This includes testing for certain pathogens such as Listeria.

"When this first came out, I figured this is going to be a problem because some of these organisms are pretty common and they're everywhere. And the fact that I'd get a positive test -- I was hoping I wouldn't -- but it wasn't much of a surprise," said Gilkerson.

Gilkerson's permit to sell raw milk has since been revoked. He can be tested again. If it's negative, he can resume production.

"These rules are essentially going to make it impossible for raw milk to be legally sold because I don't think it's a standard that's attainable," said Gilkerson.

Gilkerson says he doesn't think it is fair that positive test his raw milk received, equated to a risk of illness.

"There's actually a number of different species of Listeria and only one of those species has been known to cause illness and to my knowledge, I don't think that their test will get specific enough to this species that are actually going to make you sick," said Gilkerson.

Now that Gilkerson is barred from selling his raw milk, his loyal customers are savoring the last bit of raw milk they have left.

"We have just a little left is all, so we're still drinking it," said Virginia Sprang, raw milk consumer.

Virginia Sprang is a mother of four. She made the switch to raw milk when one of her daughters seemed to have an intolerance for store bought milk.

Raw milk did the trick. 

Sprang says trust in your raw milk producer is huge.

"We knew how he did things. We knew how meticulous he was and so it just came as a surprise.  But I did a little more research into that and it became clear pretty quickly that this was really something that was blown out of proportion and not an issue at all," said Sprang.

Sprang says until she can purchase raw milk again from Gilkerson, she will be buying a milk alternative from the store.


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