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Local dairy recalls milk

NEWBORN - Johnston Family Farm in Newborn has recalled 248 gallons of skim milk with the sell-by date of Sept. 16.

The voluntary recall followed routine laboratory testing by the Georgia Department of Agriculture that revealed the product had not been properly pasteurized. Pasteurization heats milk to eliminate harmful bacteria.

Owner Russell Johnston said trace amounts of a naturally occurring enzyme called phosphatase was found in the milk. Phosphatase breaks down during pasteurization, so the discovery indicated the milk did not meet legal pasteurization requirements. Phosphatase breaks down at 140 degrees but can recombine at 145 degrees, he said, so the milk may have somehow overheated a bit, he said.

Johnston said all of the milk has been sold and likely consumed by this time.

"We just want to reassure everybody if you got that milk there's absolutely nothing wrong with it, but we encourage you to pour it out just to be on the safe side," he said. "I've got half a gallon of it in my refrigerator and it hasn't hurt me."

The Georgia Department of Agriculture stated in a press release that the milk has not been found to contain any kind of pathogens, and the recall has been issued as a precaution. No illnesses have been reported thus far in connection with the milk.

The product was sold in gallon and half-gallon containers at Whole Foods, Yogurberry and Sevananda Natural Foods Market in Atlanta; Two Story Coffehouse, Daily Groceries Co-op and Athens Locally Grown in Athens; Alon's Bakery and Market in Dunwoody; at farmer's markets in the Atlanta area and at the dairy in Newborn.

Georgia Department of Agriculture sanitarians are checking to make sure the product has been removed from the shelves, but consumers who have purchased the products should return them to the place of purchase for a refund or discard them.

Johnston Family Farm also recalled skim milk and half-and-half products in March. According to the Department of Agriculture, air space temperature during pasteurization was not maintained throughout the entire pasteurization process. That recall affected only wholesalers, as the milk had not entered interstate commerce.

Johnston said the March recall was the result of a recorder, similar to an EKG machine, that keeps track of time and temperature during pasteurization running out of ink, leaving no record as legally required.

"We've been bottling milk for three years and I guess occasionally stuff like this is going to happen," he said.