Listeria positives cause pause for Trumansburg farm’s raw milk products

Listeria positives cause pause for Trumansburg farm’s raw milk products

TRUMANSBURG, N.Y.—A pair of tests indicating the presence of listeria have shut down raw milk production at Trumansburg-based Remembrance Farm. There have been two positive tests for listeria since the beginning of August, both among the farm’s raw milk products. The farm is continuing to produce products using pasteurized milk, none of which have tested positive.

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets published its first consumer alert about the farm on Aug. 21 after its raw milk products were tested and found to contain listeria monocytogenes, which can cause listeriosis in humans. A second consumer alert was published on Sept. 22 concerning a positive test in a specific product, the farm’s Connecticut Hill Melter raw milk cheese.

There have been no human illnesses in connection to the products, according to the state’s alert. Farm officials say the products in question were exclusively for the farm’s CSA program, meaning products on local grocery store shelves have not been impacted.

“A sample of the cheese collected by an inspector from the Department was discovered to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes,” states the consumer alert. “On September 15, 2023, the producer was notified of a preliminary positive test result. Further laboratory testing, completed on September 19, 2023, confirmed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in the cheese sample.”

Currently, all raw milk products have been temporarily paused in accordance with state law after a positive listeria test.

Sean Waters, Remembrance’s herdsman, said farm workers have been searching for the source of the listeria positives but have been unsuccessful so far.

“We’ve continued to test positive in our raw milk despite making some pretty big changes in protocol, so that’s leading us to believe it’s somewhere within the environment that we haven’t found yet,” Waters said.

The farm has contracted with a third-party tester that specializes in raw milk testing. Initial tests came back negative, but further testing is taking place on the cows that produce the milk.

Raw milk products make up a minority of the products that Remembrance makes and sells, which Waters said has been a “saving grace.”

The other products can sustain the farm’s business, he said, while they determine the best course of action with the raw milk products.

Waters said no contamination has been found in any of the farm’s other products, including its vegetables and other dairy products from pasteurized milk. Production of those items has continued, with consistent testing in place.

“There’s some increased scrutiny given that we have had listeria in the larger farm,” Waters said. “So far, all of those results have come back totally clear. We feel pretty confident that the pasteurized milk is safe.”

Waters said the farm is optimistic the problem is short-term and he encouraged anyone concerned with the raw milk issues to reach out to the farm directly.

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