STURMBOLT, N.J. – Dairy farmers in New Jersey are protesting to keep their farm running after they were told their feed was not safe for them and a local veterinarian was unable to identify the bacteria responsible for the outbreak.
The New Jersey Department of Agriculture has received several complaints from farmers, who claim the farm’s poultry feed was contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.
The department has not confirmed if the bacteria is linked to the outbreak, but said the agency was “working to determine the source of contamination.”
Farmers say they were ordered to keep the feed from the farm at all times and it was a violation of the state’s farm-safety laws.
They said they’ve been told that the feed is safe, but the farm is not.
“We have had a number of cases,” said Kevin Lohmann, executive director of the farm-based nonprofit New Jersey Farmworkers Alliance.
“We are not sure if it is a specific E.coli strain or the whole farm.”
Farmworkers in New York say they have received complaints from people in New Hampshire, New Jersey and Connecticut who say they are sick.
They also say the farm has not been tested for the bacteria.
State and federal officials are investigating and are expected to issue a report this week.
A federal judge ordered the state to test the farm to see if it was infected.
More than 4,200 people have been infected with E coli O155:H5 in New England and New Jersey.
About 2,800 of them were hospitalized.
About 975 have died.