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Traditional foods thoughts on listeria and other food poisoning?

 
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I’m having trouble finding information about listeria other than anti-raw-milk sources.

A big fuss is made about listeria during pregnancy, with a long list of foods to avoid eating, which include very nourishing ones that were everyday foods for my ancestors. I am wondering whether the reason these foods are considered risky today is because of the unnatural way many animals are raised today? And if the reason our ancestors could eat these foods and have babies was because they were much healthier and resilient from a nourishing diet with lots of good bacteria?

Nearly everyone I know seems to get food poisoning every so often. I think the statistic in Australia is that one in five people get food poisoning every year. I eat foods every day that a lot of people consider to be dangerous, but I've never had food poisoning from any of them.

Is it possible, that in someone that eats so much good bacteria every day from raw milk, yoghurt, kefir, kimchi, kombucha etc, that there is no niche in their body for bad bacteria to take over?

Does this good bacteria make it impossible for someone eating a diet like that to get listeria?

Is it only factory farmed animal foods that are causing the food poisoning?

Is the medical establishment just finding new ways to say mean things about raw milk whenever they get a chance? Or is there actually a risk that drinking fresh milk from my own animals will cause listeria?

What foods are actually risky? Is homemade raw yoghurt a risk? Are kefir and soured milk riskier than fresh milk? Is avoiding soft cheese and raw charcuterie during pregnancy enough to avoid listeria?
 
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https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17378902

When the immune system is suffering, a body's natural defenses are less able to overcome what ails us.

The link above references vitamin E, however no vitamin or mineral acts alone.  There is always a synchronicity at work that we are so accustomed to relying upon, that many of us tend not to consider what our body may be lacking that creates a friendly environment for dis-ease.

There is a book called "Nutrition Tests For Better Health" that helps the reader identify deficiencies, then provides information about a particular vitamin or mineral and often what might be related.

Anti-raw/whole milk adversaries talk long and hard about things like listeria because they don't delve more deeply for root causes.  A lot of businesses rely upon pasteurization and fear tactics to keep the majority of people in line and consuming less than optimally nutritious dairy, fermented or unfermented.  When I began hearing and reading about how scary raw dairy was, I immediately wondered how did my Grandmother raise 11 kids on a diet that included raw whole milk, and none of them ever became ill.  Not to mention most people in that era :)

Same goes with foods like sushi.  If sushi was such a terrible health risk, why does China have a billion people?  Why do entire sushi-consuming peoples still exist?  I once asked a doctor that question in a FB group and I was booted without a word ^.^

It is up to us to stop boxing with shadows.  Within reason, each of us has to decide for ourselves what is safe.  Too much oxygen, salt, or water can kill.  Moderation with respect for what it is that is being consumed is my personal guide.

That said, there is more bioavailable calcium in dark green vegetables than in milk.  Then again, I enjoy kefir and kombucha and the benefits of their probiotics and vitamins.  Especially the whey with additional protein, which adds great flavor to soups, gravies, and broths.

Specific to listeria, I've consumed raw milk at my Grandmother's and on my Dad's farm.  I never had listeria or any other illness related to raw whole milk, and I grew healthier.  That is what I remember most about raw whole milk.  All the nonsense from naysayers falls to the wayside in light of that personal experience.
 
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My grandmother lost  a number pregnancies between my father and his youngest brother.
The cause was attributed to the raw milk she was drinking.
Family lore days she stopped drinking it and was able to carry her next child to term.
 
 
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I lost a prized sheep to Listeria and it was one of the most sad, most gruesome deaths I ever saw in a sheep...and I saw some sheep die in some horrible ways.

But by me there was a farm. the key word being WAS, because in the State of Maine, we are one of 8 states that allows raw milk to be legally sold. Unfortunately this farm sold raw milk, and one of the customers got a bacteria poisoning pretty bad, and ended up suing the farm. The guy won, and while insurance paid the amount sued for, the farm lost its ability to get insurance and is no longer a farm.

In another incident, a 9 year old girl was at a friends house who had goats, and drank some goats milk that had bacteria in it. She ended up living, but the right side of her face was all puffed up. The people with the goats did no lose their farm, but it was a horrific sight to see, and nothing I want to endure with my own kids.

Listeria does happen, and it is pretty horrific.
 
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I think rules around food safety come from hard learned lessons. Will you die if you drink raw milk? Probably not, but you might. It can kill if not handled properly.  

Should you be allowed to drink raw milk if you choose to accept the risk for you and your children?  I would say yes, but tend toward favoring less regulation and more freedom of choice (and acceptance of consequences).

Just like building codes - these are not pulled out of thin air just to bother us, for the most part. They mostly arise because someone died, and everyone screamed for the gubmint to do something - so they did.

Should you be allowed to build a wofati or round wood shed or cob house on your own property?  Again, I would say yes, for the same reasons.

But I also see where impacting others can invite government regulation. If you keep your own cow and milk it and die from listeria, oh well. If you sell it to 100 people and they all die, that’s a different thing.  
 
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Lots of kids in my family and we grew up drinking raw cow and goats milk, along with whole wheat and the diet you are describing.  None of us died.

But we got sick with severe colds, bronchitis, the flu, random digestive issues and other painful sickness regularly. I don't know what all we had because we weren't doctor people.

Now, many of us have serious / chronic health issues that started then and have been positively impacted by switching to a plant based whole foods diet. For me, the lesser illnesses like colds and the flu have basically disappeared too.

I do see food as medicine. But in my experience, it's not the food described in the original post.
 
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Pasteurized milk is safer but less tasty and you also delete some of the good stuff in milk. In the end it is more of a listeria lottery, any cow can get an infection. Most of the time your body will shut it down but sometimes it slips trough the cracks. It's not fun to have but it's very treatable. The problem is that older, pregnant, younger, etc. people have a higher change of getting it and for them the consequences are more dire. So maybe play it safe at least for those periods of your life.
 
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theres milk thats pressure treated now, keeps the beneficial chemicals that are degraded with pasteurization, while killing single cell organisms
 
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Kate Downham wrote:I’m having trouble finding information about listeria other than anti-raw-milk sources.

A big fuss is made about listeria during pregnancy, with a long list of foods to avoid eating, which include very nourishing ones that were everyday foods for my ancestors. I am wondering whether the reason these foods are considered risky today is because of the unnatural way many animals are raised today? And if the reason our ancestors could eat these foods and have babies was because they were much healthier and resilient from a nourishing diet with lots of good bacteria?

Nearly everyone I know seems to get food poisoning every so often. I think the statistic in Australia is that one in five people get food poisoning every year. I eat foods every day that a lot of people consider to be dangerous, but I've never had food poisoning from any of them.

Is it possible, that in someone that eats so much good bacteria every day from raw milk, yoghurt, kefir, kimchi, kombucha etc, that there is no niche in their body for bad bacteria to take over?

Does this good bacteria make it impossible for someone eating a diet like that to get listeria?

Is it only factory farmed animal foods that are causing the food poisoning?

Is the medical establishment just finding new ways to say mean things about raw milk whenever they get a chance? Or is there actually a risk that drinking fresh milk from my own animals will cause listeria?

What foods are actually risky? Is homemade raw yoghurt a risk? Are kefir and soured milk riskier than fresh milk? Is avoiding soft cheese and raw charcuterie during pregnancy enough to avoid listeria?



a lot of questions in here.

so here is my opinion.
I haven't gotten food poisoning since i was 12 or so. I find it a challenge to associate stomach ailments with disease as it is an area with a lot of emotion's. Meaning it can be hard to tell when someone has an issue with there stomach, when really they are feeling something which is hard to describe, in words.

"I eat foods every day that a lot of people consider to be dangerous, but I've never had food poisoning from any of them."
I also eat questionable food everyday. I drink 1 litre of raw goat whole buttermilk every day.  I eat hard cheese which has green/blue mold on it. I will eat meat which is pink/cook rare. However all of this food has been prepared by me, besides the cheese. So the milk i know how clean it is. The meat has been slaughtered by me. The sauerkraut has been cut up by me. The sour dough bread has been made by our good friends.

Is it possible, that in someone that eats so much good bacteria every day from raw milk, yoghurt, kefir, kimchi, kombucha etc, that there is no niche in their body for bad bacteria to take over?
I strongly believe this is the case. You are adding so many good bacteria to your body, that any which enter your system is easily eliminated without harm.

Is it only factory farmed animal foods that are causing the food poisoning?
I believe this meat/milk/cheese is produced in a way where these bad bacteria can slip thru the cracks of the large system and into the food sector. I also believe knowing where your food comes from makes a huge different in knowing how the animal was treated as well as how the meat/milk/cheese was handle prior to you receiving it.

Is the medical establishment just finding new ways to say mean things about raw milk whenever they get a chance?
I strongly believe this to be the case. Fear mongering

I wish i could answer the listeria questions though i really have no idea.

A book i recommend would be The Milk Book by William Campbell Douglass

so yet again just my opinion.
 
Kate Downham
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Thank you everyone.

From what I've heard, deli meats are the #1 cause of listeria, and pasteurised dairy causes far more outbreaks of food poisoning than raw dairy.

But raw dairy is a usually small farms, the media isn't going to lose advertising revenue if they attack them, and a big raw milk scare will sell papers, and increase the power of big ag.

There's also a big question about how the animals are raised, and milking hygiene. I know how I raise my animals and care for their milk.

I haven't found anything on the Weston A Price foundation website, but the nourishing traditions baby book recommends a preconception diet with lots of raw milk, and this diet continues into pregnancy.
 
Kate Downham
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Sonja Draven wrote:Lots of kids in my family and we grew up drinking raw cow and goats milk, along with whole wheat and the diet you are describing.  None of us died.

But we got sick with severe colds, bronchitis, the flu, random digestive issues and other painful sickness regularly. I don't know what all we had because we weren't doctor people.

Now, many of us have serious / chronic health issues that started then and have been positively impacted by switching to a plant based whole foods diet. For me, the lesser illnesses like colds and the flu have basically disappeared too.

I do see food as medicine. But in my experience, it's not the food described in the original post.



I've had the opposite experience. Different diets work for different people.

Many people on a vegan diet are initially very enthusiastic, but get burnt out in a decade or less.

And from what I've read, a plant-based diet is deficient in many nutrients needed for optimum baby health. There have also been no multi-generational studies on the safety of veganism, where as traditional foods have a long history.
 
Kate Downham
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Some more thoughts and questions about listeria:

When I’m culturing foods with good bacteria, it starts off as a small amount of bacteria in the starter, the ingredients, or the environment, and I help to give it the right conditions to grow. My understanding of bad bacteria is that they work in a similar way. Does listeria also behave like this?

I feel like searching on the internet sometimes is coming up against a brick wall. There are so many search results to tell me “listeria is bad - don’t eat this long list of foods”, but no explanation of how exactly listeria works so that I can make my own mind up about what is safe and what isn't.

Another thing I’ve thought about is that listeria might be causing a lot of panic because it thrives even in the fridge - many people with fridges just assume that because their food is cold, it’s safe, but if they buy contaminated deli meats and leave them sitting in their fridge for a week, maybe the smallest amount of listeria on the meat could have grown in cold temperatures?

Living without a fridge, we have to judge things by smell, taste, and past experience with keeping things in different temperatures, and we don’t take for granted that something will be safe, I wonder if this makes fridge-free people less at risk from listeria?
 
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Google can be frustrating. I didn't see any anti raw milk stuff, maybe cause I'm searching from Japan.

This summary from Food Standards Australia is pretty thorough and has references and additional reading at the end:

https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/publications/Documents/Listeria%20monocytogenes.pdf

Big takeaways from the summary:

The temperature range for growth of L. monocytogenes is between -1.5 and 45°C, with the
optimal temperature being 30–37°C. Temperatures above 50°C are lethal to L.
monocytogenes. Freezing can also lead to a reduction in L. monocytogenes numbers (Lado
and Yousef 2007). As L. monocytogenes can grow at temperatures as low as 0°C, it has the
potential to grow, albeit slowly, in food during refrigerated storage.



So yes it grows in the fridge.


Occurrence in food

L. monocytogenes has been isolated from various ready-to-eat products. In a study by
Meldrum et al. (2010) the prevalence of L. monocytogenes was
4.1% in crustaceans(n=147),
6.7% in smoked fish (n=178),
2% in sushi (n=50) and
0.9% in green salad (n=335)samples in Wales. Wong et al. (2005) isolated L. monocytogenes from
1% of ham (n=104)and
1.7% of pate (n=60) samples in New Zealand.

L. monocytogenes has also been isolated from dairy products. For example, L. monocytogenes was detected in
1.3% of fresh cheese 5 samples in Spain (n=78),
0.2% of hard cheese samples in the United Kingdom (n=1242) and
0.3% of ice creams in Italy (n=1734) (Busani et al. 2005; Cabedo et al. 2008; Little et al. 2009).

The prevalence of L. monocytogenes in bulk milk tank internationally is 1–60% (FSANZ 2009).

The presence of L. monocytogenes in ready-to-eat products is probably due to
contamination occurring after the product has been processed. This contamination may
occur during additional handling steps such as peeling, slicing and repackaging. Also, in the
retail and food service environment, contamination may be transferred between ready-to-eat
products (Lianou and Sofos 2007). The type of handling that ready-to-eat meat receives may
also influence the level of L. monocytogenes contamination. In a survey of retail packaged
meats there was a significantly higher prevalence of L. monocytogenes reported in products
cut into cubes (61.5%) (n=13), compared with sliced products (4.6%) (n=196) (Angelidis and
Koutsoumanis 2006).



So it looks like it depends on sanitation in the food prep process. The more your food is prepared, the more people involved, the more parts and machinery, the higher the risk. Each step in food prep is an opportunity for listeria to be introduced. And unless heated to 50 degrees C, it will stay in the food and multiply, even in the fridge. But it seems that listeria is around anyway, we all consume some amount. And the amount you consume determines whether you get symptoms.


Investigations of foodborne outbreaks of non-invasive listeriosis have concluded that
consumption of food with high levels of L. monocytogenes (1.9 x 105
/g to 1.2 x 109/g) is required to cause illness in the general healthy population (Sim et al. 2002).
The number of L. monocytogenes required to cause invasive listeriosis depends on a
number of factors. These include the virulence of the particular serotype of
L. monocytogenes, the general health and immune status of the host, and attributes of the
food (for example fatty foods can protect bacteria from stomach acid).

People at risk of invasive listeriosis include pregnant women and their foetuses, newborn
babies, the elderly and immunocompromised individuals (such as cancer, transplant and
HIV/AIDS patients). Less frequently reported, but also at a greater risk, are patients with
diabetes, asthma, cirrhosis (liver disease) and ulcerative colitis (inflammatory bowel disease)
(FDA 2012).



When you are pregnant, your immune system is suppressed so that the fetus isn't rejected by your body. So theoretically, even if you have successfully consumed foods with some listeria in them in the past, your lowered immune system during pregnancy may not be strong enough to keep you from symptoms.

That being said, I drank raw milk while pregnant and I was fine. I choose to take the risk, because after talking to the farmer, I deemed the risk to be very small.

The farmer explained that listeria hangs out in the tubing of the milking machine if not cleaned thoroughly each time. She showed me her machine, explained that the tubes were very short and easy to clean, and she cleaned them every time. So I trusted her milk.

Other things from the store, like salad greens, I didn't quite trust. I still ate them, but cooked. I stayed away from anything prepared by strangers.

I think it depends so heavily on each person and each case, so of course the "authorities" will err on the safe side to protect the whole population. But I would say, if you are pregnant and are craving something, and you trust the source, eat as much as you want!

 
Amy Arnett
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Also found this paper showing that kimchi inhibits growth of listeria:

Growth inhibitory effects of kimchi (Korean traditional fermented vegetable product) against Bacillus cereus, Listeria monocytogenes, and Staphylococcus aureus.

https://jfoodprotection.org/doi/pdf/10.4315/0362-028X-71.2.325
 
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I would think that if your body is already resistant to the strain that is naturally occurring at your house in month 1 to month 6 of your pregnancy you are going to be fine. but if you were to go on vacation to the other side of the country and a different strain comes by, I am not sure how your body will react.
 
Kate Downham
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Thank you Amy! That is really helpful.

Maybe I searched in the wrong way, or Startpage search results in Australia had put SEO-optimised but generally unhelpful websites at the top or something else that led to me seeing virtually identical unhelpful lists of foods to avoid.

I drank raw milk from my own goats all through two pregnancies and was fine. After reading what you've written, it confirms my thoughts about bacteria growing, and I think a safe strategy for pregnancy would be to drink the milk when it's very fresh. I am still not sure what to do about kefir and raw yoghurt though.
 
Amy Arnett
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Kate Downham wrote:Thank you Amy! That is really helpful.

Maybe I searched in the wrong way, or Startpage search results in Australia had put SEO-optimised but generally unhelpful websites at the top or something else that led to me seeing virtually identical unhelpful lists of foods to avoid.

I drank raw milk from my own goats all through two pregnancies and was fine. After reading what you've written, it confirms my thoughts about bacteria growing, and I think a safe strategy for pregnancy would be to drink the milk when it's very fresh. I am still not sure what to do about kefir and raw yoghurt though.



For searches like this, it can help to get really specific with google.  I imagine the title of the paper I hope exists and search for that. For example: Incidence of listeria in kefir. kefir inhibits listeria growth. survivability of listeria strain in kefir. effect of fermentation on listeria survivability in kefir. etc.

So results of those searches is that kefir seems to be hit or miss.

This paper suggests that the pH doesn't quite get low enough to inhibit listeria. They found highest inhibition at the two hours of fermentation, but noted that if the sample was contaminated before, and not during, fermentation, there is still a significant amount left in the kefir.

https://www.elynspublishing.com/journal/article/survival-of-major-listeria-monocytogenes-serotypes-in-kefir-as-pre-fermentation-contaminant 

In conclusion, Kefir microflora found to be suppressive on L. monocytogenes serotypes studied in this study. Besides, there was significant survival difference between all L. monocytogenes serotypes. The major reduction in the study was 2.37 log cfu/ml which was detected in the second hour of 104 cfu/ml contaminated kefir experiment with 4b serotype. Therefore, we can conclude from this study that despite the high acidity of kefir, it could be potentially hazardous to the public health if it is contaminated with the pathogens studied here in. Such risk would increase if the product was contaminated before the fermentation period.  



This paper fermented for longer, 1-3 days, and found inhibition of listeria in only one kind of kefir, kefir M. 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5243963/#!po=40.9091  

the growth of L. monocytogenes was only inhibited by kefir M fermented for 24 h, suggesting kefir M could contain a microorganism which produces an anti-L. monocytogenes molecule (i.e., bacteriocins). These data suggested that the antimicrobial activity of kefirs could be attributable to specific antimicrobial substances and not simply due to low pH values 

 

I'm not familiar at all with how kefir is made, but it seems to depend on the grain you are using, how long you ferment for, and when contamination occurs and what strain of listeria. Possibly, if it's your own ingredients and the milk is sterilized, and all surfaces involved, including your hands, are clean, there would be low risk of listeria. 
 
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I just looked up more stuff about listeria and pH and found this: https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/publications/Documents/Listeria%20monocytogenes.pdf

It grows most quickly between 6 and 8, but will also grow anywhere between 4 and 9.6.

According to this site: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Changes-in-pH-during-kefir-fermentation-control-sample_fig1_286168267 kefir gets below a ph of 6 after 2 hours, and then ends up between 4.2 and 4.6. The main risk is in that first 2 hours, but after that it can still grow, but more slowly.

I'm trying to find information about the growth of listeria - if there is a small amount there to begin with, how many hours does it take to reach a dangerous level? I haven't found anything on this yet. I've found stuff on what is considered a dangerous level though:

http://media.corporate-ir.net/media_files/irol/88/88490/Listeria%20Customer%20Fact%20Sheet%20OC09%2008-Final.pdf

INFECTIVE DOSE – How many bacteria are needed to cause an infection? The quantity of bacteria on food is expressed as the number of colony-forming units per gram (CFU/g). Levels of 100 CFU/g in food at point of consumption are regarded as safe, meaning that people consuming foods with low levels of L. monocytogenes have an extremely low risk of contracting listeriosis. As with all disease-causing micro-organisms there is no threshold below which there is a true “zero” risk for human illness. Estimates based on US data suggest though that less than 0.2% of the 2,500 listeriosis cases that occur annually in the US are caused by foods contaminated with 100 or less CFU per serving. By contrast, more than 80% of these cases are caused by foods contaminated with more than one million CFU per serving. Thus foods that contain extremely high levels of L. monocytogenes represent the main risk for consumers.



Also found this: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28850852

The occurrence of L. monocytogenes was higher (4.8%) in bottled raw milk stored until the use-by-date of the package compared to fresh bulk tank milk (1.7%). L. monocytogenes counts were ≤13CFU/ml in bottled raw milk and ≤1CFU/ml in bulk tank milk.


Targeted inoculum levels of 1-2CFU/ml yielded L. monocytogenes counts≥100CFU/ml within seven days of storage in 22% of the raw milk packages stored at 6°C, and in all of the raw milk packages stored at 8°C.



So the amount they found in very fresh milk was not enough to get sick, but once it was stored for 7 days at larder temperature, it all contained enough listeria to cause problems for some people. I am wondering at what point during those 7 days it got more risky?

And I found this helpful article about beneficial bacteria getting the nasty ones to stay away: https://www.ausrawmilk.org/blog/listeriosis
 
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Graph showing that pasteurised milk contaminated with listeria is more dangerous than raw milk contaminated with listeria.
50754150_839497089727546_8827060200268627968_n.jpg
[Thumbnail for 50754150_839497089727546_8827060200268627968_n.jpg]
 
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Kate Downham wrote:

Many people on a vegan diet are initially very enthusiastic, but get burnt out in a decade or less.


Whereas my lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet is now in its 12th year. And I wasn't "the gradual vegetarian," either; once I made up my mind, I set a date and made the switch completely. But that's how my mind works: I don't make sudden decisions; I deliberate long, so that by the time I do reach a decision, I have determined that it is worth committing fully.

Now as to the food poisoning, I don't believe I have ever had a definitive case, except insofar as I have read that what people usually call "stomach flu" is really a mild food poisoning. The one exception was one attack of acute E.coli, and that was after my aversion to food waste short circuited my better judgement, and I ate a food item that I could easily see was contaminated. It only happened because my long history of eating food that most people would throw away, without adverse effects, had lulled me into thinking there was no harm in it. Usually, for me, there is no harm in food that was a tad moldy (I cut off the moldy part), or touched the ground. When I see people throwing away food for these reasons, I perceive it as inexcusable waste. But then, maybe they get food poisoning more easily than I do. Who am I to judge?
 
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Hi Travis

We just  spent the past 2 weeks in our barn with a goat with Listeria.  He is ok now.  Fortunately, we caught it early enough.
 
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