The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture today advised consumers who purchased aged hard cheddar cheese made with raw milk from Milky Way Farm in Troy, Bradford County, to discard the product immediately because of potential bacterial contamination. The Bureau of Food Safety has identified 20 pounds of raw milk cheddar cheese that entered the consumer market.

Aged hard cheese may be legally manufactured in Pennsylvania from milk that has not been pasteurized, if it has been aged more than 60 days in temperatures exceeding 35 degrees Fahrenheit.

A Department of Agriculture lab found Staphylococcus aureus and enterotoxin in an aged hard cheese sample made from raw milk that was taken from the Milky Way Farm on June 21. The presence of enterotoxin violates the Milk Sanitation Law and the Food Act. The toxin can cause serious illness.

Cheese producers at Milky Way Farm agreed to stop selling their aged hard cheddar cheese made with raw milk. Additional testing has determined that pasteurized cheeses that are produced and sold on the farm are suitable for human consumption.

Symptoms of staphylococcal food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping and extreme exhaustion. In more severe cases, headache, muscle cramping and changes in blood pressure and pulse may occur. The symptoms usually appear rapidly and are often serious.

The department is moving to suspend Milky Way Farm’s raw milk cheese manufacturing permit until additional aged hard cheddar cheese made from raw milk samples are tested and found to be free of Staphylococcus aureus and other pathogens.