Presence of pathogens in milk, if left unchecked, will make it unsuitable for human consumption. This article lists the various types of bacteria that can be found in milk and their effects on the human body.
Raw milk obtained from cows makes for complete nutrition. It contains helpful lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria that are useful for maintaining a healthy gastrointestinal tract along with many other useful things. Normally, these bacteria contain and even kill the pathogenic bacteria and yeast that are found in the gut. However, during the milking process, presence of mastitis in the udder can invite bacteria into it.
Bacteria present on the outside skin of the udders and unhygienic milking practices allows milk to come in contact with contaminants like feces. During the process of pasteurization, which is performed to cure and extend the milk’s shelf life, the probiotic lactobacillus bacteria are killed along with the pathogens. However, the process fails to eradicate all of them.
Types of Bacteria Present in Milk
The presence of these pathogenic bacteria is a threat to its consumer’s digestive health and may cause various types of food allergies.
Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC)
This microorganism can gain entry into the human body through contaminated food items. The presence of this pathogenic bacteria is a clear indication that during the milking process there was a lack of sanitary measures followed. The milk, during the process, has come in contact with feces contaminated with this pathogen. E. coli (Escherichia Coli), a rod-shaped bacteria that is classified under the family Enterobacteriaceae, are known to produce enterotoxins and cause gastroenteritis in their victims. Infection of E. coli leads to watery or bloody diarrhea and most of the time is the cause of infantile diarrhea.
Campylobacter jejuni or C. jejuni is a Gram negative, curved and motile rod like bacteria. This one causes gastroenteritis or Campylobactor enteritis in the consumer. Alternatively, the illness is called Campylobacteriosis which can cause fever, abdominal pain, headache or muscle pain in an infected person. This infection is often a cause of diarrhea which can be watery, bloody or sticky. It may also contain fecal leukocytes. The transmission of this pathogen in humans can occur from healthy livestock, chicken, and raw milk. Research on C. jejuni shows that this pathogenic bacteria causes more bacterial diarrheal illness in the United States than any other microbe.
Yersinia Enterocolitica or Y. enterocolitica is pathogenic bacteria that is typed as Gram negative and is small and rod-shaped. The entry of this bacteria in the body of its victim can occur through contaminated milk and ice cream. The infection of the Y. enterocolitica can cause gastroenteritis in its victim. He may suffer due to intestinal infection symptoms such as fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea or vomiting along with the gastroenteritis. In addition to food stuff such as pork, beef and fish, raw milk also acts as the vehicle of the transmission of this pathogenic bacteria. Its detection is thought to be because of poor sanitation, improper sterilization technique, and improper storage of milk.
Listeria monocytogenes or L. monocytogenes is one of the most prevalent Gram negative bacteria in mammals, birds, fish, shellfish, and feral. It is believed that 1-10 percent of humans carry this bacterium in their intestine. Dealing with the infection of this bacterium is considered to be difficult because it is quite hardy. Because of its ability to adapt itself to extreme conditions, its presence is quite harmful. It may enter its victim’s body after consumption of raw milk, cheese, or through pasteurized milk, and is really dangerous.
The diseases that are caused by the L. monocytogenes are covered under an umbrella term of listeriosis. The infection by this pathogen can cause septicemia, meningitis, and encephalitis in the infected person. In case of pregnant women, it may cause intrauterine or cervical infections which may result in an abortion or still birth. L. monocytogenes has the capacity to overcome the victim’s monocytes, macrophages, or polymorphonuclear leukocytes which forms the defense against pathogens.
For thousands of years people have used milk as a source of nutritional supplement and have obtained its benefits. However, when it comes to supplying it to people on a large-scale, as it is done today, improper practices or ignorance at the time of handling can cause contamination. To avoid such a waste of this valuable food source, proper training and sanitary methods must be employed. Tests to ensure quality and food safety must be conducted to detect bacteria before it is passed on to consumers.