Nonpasteurized dairy products, disease outbreaks, and state laws-United States, 1993-2006

Emerg Infect Dis. 2012 Mar;18(3):385-91. doi: 10.3201/eid1803.111370.


Although pasteurization eliminates pathogens and consumption of nonpasteurized dairy products is uncommon, dairy-associated disease outbreaks continue to occur. To determine the association of outbreaks caused by nonpasteurized dairy products with state laws regarding sale of these products, we reviewed dairy-associated outbreaks during 1993-2006. We found 121 outbreaks for which the product's pasteurization status was known; among these, 73 (60%) involved nonpasteurized products and resulted in 1,571 cases, 202 hospitalizations, and 2 deaths. A total of 55 (75%) outbreaks occurred in 21 states that permitted sale of nonpasteurized products; incidence of nonpasteurized product-associated outbreaks was higher in these states. Nonpasteurized products caused a disproportionate number (≈150× greater/unit of product consumed) of outbreaks and outbreak-associated illnesses and also disproportionately affected persons <20 years of age. States that restricted sale of nonpasteurized products had fewer outbreaks and illnesses; stronger restrictions and enforcement should be considered.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Dairy Products / poisoning*
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Female
  • Food Microbiology
  • Foodborne Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Nutrition Policy / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Pasteurization / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult