Montrose dairy must abide by conditions after illness outbreak

State health officials Tuesday announced a Montrose dairy must meet a series of conditions before it resumes distribution of raw milk, a week after revealing a series of people were sickened by a food-borne illness.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shut down the Kinikin Corner Dairy LLC on April 7 after 12 Western Slope residents were sickened by campylobacter. At least 10 of those people reported drinking raw milk, with eight of them getting milk from Kinikin.

On Tuesday, the state informed the dairy operator it must conduct laboratory testing of milk collected at the dairy that shows raw milk is negative for campylobacter, E. coli and fecal coliform. Lab tests must also show that raw milk is negative for antibiotics, meets acceptable standards for total coliform and conforms to Kinikin’s standards for acceptable levels of somatic cell and standard plate counts.

The dairy must also conduct follow-up sampling for the next two weeks to show the raw milk is free of contamination.

Kinikin cannot resume distribution of milk until it meets all of those conditions.

State health officials emphasized that although the dairy may reopen after passing the testing criteria, the department can’t certify the milk as safe to drink.

“The department cannot ensure the safety of milk that is not pasteurized,” said Ned Calonge, the state’s chief medical officer.

The state is contacting approximately 200 people who are participants in the dairy’s cow-share operation. Those participants buy a share of a cow and receive raw milk in return.

Consumers with raw milk or raw milk products from Kinikin are advised to throw them out.

Colorado health officials are working with Montrose County Health and Human Services officials on the investigation of the outbreak.