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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

E. coli Test Match on Hartmann Dairy Farm – The Nail in the Coffin of Raw Milk?

The State of Minnesota just published this press release on the ongoing E. coli O157:H7 outbreak:

Laboratory testing conducted by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) this week provided additional evidence that the Hartmann dairy farm, of rural Gibbon, was the source of a strain of E. coli O157:H7 bacteria that sickened at least five Minnesotans after they consumed raw, unpasteurized milk or other dairy products from the farm. MDH reported four cases of illness last week, and a fifth case has subsequently been confirmed in a young child who was not hospitalized.

MDH first discovered the outbreak through reports of E. coli O157:H7 illness from health care providers. The department conducted an investigation into the illnesses, which were scattered across the state, and found that the only thing the ill people had in common was consumption of dairy products from the Hartmann farm. This strong epidemiological link is now reinforced by the laboratory confirmation that the specific strain of E. coli O157:H7 found in the ill patients has also been found in multiple animals and at multiple sites on the Hartmann farm. This strain of E. coli has not previously been found in Minnesota. Furthermore, laboratory tests confirmed that cheese samples collected last week from the farm contained another form of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, demonstrating that an ongoing pathway of contamination existed on the farm.

… In addition to the cases linked to the Hartmann farm, MDH is investigating several other illnesses with a connection to products from the farm. MDA has embargoed dairy products on the Hartmann farm, prohibiting movement or release of the products off the farm.

It is illegal to sell raw milk in Minnesota, although occasional sales are allowed on the farm where the milk is produced. …

My emphasis above.  Hammer, hammer.

For more information about raw milk, visit www.realrawmilkfacts.com.

  • Doc Mudd

    Hmmm…sure has been quiet on this thread. Where are all of the pro-raw-milk know-it-alls when the facts surface?
    ***crickets***

  • katie

    What follows is a statement on behalf of Michael Hartmann, owner of Hartmann Dairy Farm, and his family in response to a number of news reports that milk from the farm has made people ill.
    The Minnesota Department of Health served a motion to condemn and destroy embargoed natural food on Michael, Diane, and Roger Hartmann on Saturday, June 5, 2010. This is the first notice given to the Hartmann’s that samples taken from the Hartmann property were tested and the results of those tests.
    Not a single test of raw milk was found to contain any strain of e.coli.
    The seven page Petition alleges at paragraph 6 that “23 samples from dairy and meat products and 80 samples from animals and the environment” were taken. According to the warrant inventory, no samples were taken from any meat product. All meat is inspected at a licensed custom meat processing site by an individual with over 10 years of USDA meat inspection experience.
    At paragraph 9, the State wrote in the Petition that of the 103 samples tested, 9 samples tested positive for e.coli, a bacteria found in the lower intestines of virtually all mammals. Of the 9 samples, none was from any milk cow; 4 calves manure (not milked), manure from a cow pen (beef cows, not dairy, not milked), manure from a pasture for dry cows (not milked), manure from a steer yard (steers are not milked), manure from 2 heifers (not milked), and manure from one sheep (not milked). No claim is made that any sample from a dairy cow or the dairy barn contained any e.coli.
    Two samples of cheese, one cheddar and one herb and spice Gouda, made from raw milk were found to contain a strain of e.coli that the state could not identify as e.coli 0157:H7. A third positive test for an unidentified strain of e.coli was taken from a bucket of clean-up rinse water. As everyone knows, cheese is intentionally cultured with bacteria to create the product and until a specific strain is identified there is no evidence of contamination.
    As of today, there is no evidence of any harmful bacteria in any raw milk, cheese, meat or other product sampled from the Hartmann farm. The State has engaged in a serious regulatory and potentially criminal action in a grossly negligent manner
    with total disregard for the defamatory content of their media campaign.

  • Doc Mudd

    *”As everyone knows, cheese is intentionally cultured with bacteria to create the product…”*
    Not with fecal bacteria, it’s not. Not with E.coli. Nope. Not even for a boutique artisan cheese.
    Dirty, nasty, nasty, nasty.

  • Katie

    Katie, most farmers that have been involved in outbreaks over the 10 years will state that the organism was not found at their farm whether it is mangos, lettuce, milk, etc. But like an episode of CSI the evidence leads back to the farms. This information holds up in Federal Court which means it is beyond a reasonable doubt.
    Katie please read http://www.health.state.mn.us/foodsafety/alert/ecoli0610.html
    It is interesting that the most raw milk proponents will point to all the non raw milk outbreaks which are usually include PFGE evidence but when it links to raw milk, it is not acceptable evidence.
    It also true for epidemiology.
    I am not sure what evidence the raw milk proponets will accept to link their “prefect food” raw milk to a foodborne outbreak. Even if we have over 100 years of evidence of raw milk being linked to outbreaks.

  • Two samples of cheese, one cheddar and one herb and spice Gouda, made from raw milk were found to contain a strain of e.coli that the state could not identify as e.coli 0157:H7. A third positive test for an unidentified strain of e.coli was taken from a bucket of clean-up rinse water. As everyone knows, cheese is intentionally cultured with bacteria to create the product and until a specific strain is identified there is no evidence of contamination.