WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2015 – Outbreaks linked to raw milk have increased sharply as the unpasteurized product has grown in popularity, according to a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC reported that there were 51 outbreaks during 2010 to 2012, up from 30 during 2007 and 2009.

The Food and Drug Administration bans the interstate sale of unpasteurized milk but state laws vary and some legislatures are considering relaxing them. Even in states where raw milk sales are banned, consumers get around the law by purchasing directly from farmers through what are known as “cow-share” or “herd-share” agreements.

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The vast majority of the outbreaks, 66 altogether, occurred in states where sales of raw milk were legal in some form: Pennsylvania, which led the nation with 17, New York, Minnesota, South Carolina, Washington, and Utah.The remaining 15 outbreaks were spread across eight states with bans on raw milk.

No one died in any of the 81 outbreaks but they resulted in 979 illnesses and 73 hospitalizations. Nearly six in 10 of the total outbreaks involved at least one children under 5 years of age.

Most of the illnesses involved campylobacter bacteria.