Almost 60 cases of food poisoning are being linked to a farm selling raw milk, it emerged yesterday.
A judge has now banned Low Sizergh Barn Farm, in Kendal, Cumbria, from selling any more of the unpasteurised milk following the potentially deadly outbreak.
It came as a court heard the farm's owner, Richard Park, knew there were "quite high levels" of bacteria in the milk three months ago but continued to sell it.
Though it was not divulged which bacteria had been found, the recent poisoning cases involve campylobacter bacteria, which is estimated to cause 100 deaths a year in the UK.
In the past six months, Low Sizergh Barn Farm has won various tourism awards for its 'fresh-from-the-udder' milk, including the National Trust's Fine Farm Produce Award.
But yesterday the hearing at Furness Magistrates' Court was told that Mr Park should have informed the Food Standards Agency (FSA) or Public Health England (PHE) that bacteria had been found in samples of untreated milk in September, but failed to do so. Last week, officers from the FSA officers imposed an emergency prohibition notice after six cases of campylobacter bacteria food poisoning were linked to the farm's untreated milk.
Last year a US study claimed raw milk made people 100 times more likely to get ill than the pasteurised version. An investigation by the FSA, PHE and South Lakeland District Council was launched, and it has since emerged that a further 50 possible cases are being looked at, with those affected ranging in age from a one-year-old to 86.
Symptoms of campylobacter include abdominal pain, severe diarrhoea and vomiting. Although not usually serious in adults it can prove fatal in young children or the elderly. A private water supply on the farm is being examined as the possible source of the bacteria, the court heard.
Judge Gerald Chalk yesterday granted the FSA's application for the prohibition notice to be made into a permanent order, effectively banning the farm from selling raw milk until it identifies and rectifies the source of the outbreak.
Brian Rigg, a dairy hygiene inspector for the FSA, said: "I visited the farm and spoke to Mr Park. He has submitted samples to an independent laboratory at his own expense to detect bacteria levels.
"They came back as six samples having failed. They were done in September and they were quite high levels."
Mr Park did not attend the hearing, although Mr Rigg confirmed the farmer was aware of the application for the order and did not intend to contest it.
After the hearing, Chris McGarvey, a lawyer for the FSA, said: "Our first priority is to ensure public safety and we have acted in tandem with the other regulatory bodies to make sure that the public is safe."