Research recently published by scientists in The Netherlands shows that E. coli and Campylobacter bacteria are so common on goat and sheep dairy farms that pasteurization is necessary to prevent contamination of raw milk and products made with it.The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment and the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority joined forces for the project. The government agencies annually investigate how common pathogens of zoonoses are on different types farms. Cattle, meat pig and laying hen operations have already been examined.
For the recent report, scientists looked at 181 dairy goat farms and 24 dairy sheep farms. Shiga-toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) and Campylobacter bacteria was found on most of the animals. The pathogens were also found among farmers and their family members.
“STEC appeared on virtually all the farms studied,” according to the research report.
“Campylobacter has been demonstrated in one out of three goat farms (33 percent) and almost all sheep farms (96 percent).”
Listeria was less common. It was found on about 9 percent of the goat farms and 17 percent of the sheep farms. It was not found in farmers and their families. The percentage of farms with Listeria is relevant, the researchers wrote, because “unpasteurized soft cheese is the most important source of Listeria infection in humans.”