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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Organic Pastures Raw Milk Linked to Campylobacter Illnesses

OrganicPasturesCampylobacter.jpgRaw milk, raw skim milk (non-fat), raw cream and raw butter produced by Organic Pastures Dairy of Fresno County is the subject of a statewide recall and quarantine order announced by California State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Whiteford. The quarantine order came following the confirmed detection of campylobacter bacteria in raw cream.

Consumers are strongly urged to dispose of any Organic Pastures products of these types remaining in their refrigerators, and retailers are to pull those products immediately from their shelves.

From January through April 30, 2012, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) reports that at least 10 people with campylobacter infection were identified throughout California and reported consuming Organic Pastures raw milk prior to illness onset. Their median age is 11.5 years, with six under 18. The age range is nine months to 38 years. They are residents of Fresno, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Luis Obispo and Santa Clara counties. None of the patients have been hospitalized, and there have been no deaths.

According to CDPH, symptoms of campylobacteriosis include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever. Most people with campylobacteriosis recover completely. Illness usually occurs 2 to 5 days after exposure to campylobacter and lasts about a week. The illness is usually mild and some people with campylobacteriosis have no symptoms at all. However, in some persons with compromised immune systems, it can cause a serious, life-threatening infection. A small percentage of people may have joint pain and swelling after infection. In addition, a rare disease called Guillain-Barre syndrome that causes weakness and paralysis can occur several weeks after the initial illness.

A Recent Organic Pastures E. coli Outbreak:

In November 2011, a cluster of five young children with Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157:H7 infection with matching pulse-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns was identified. Illness onsets were from August 25 to October 25, 2011. All five children reported drinking commercially available raw (unpasteurized) milk from a single dairy (Organic Pastures) and had no other common exposures. Statistical analysis of case­ patients’ exposures with a comparison group of E. coli O157:H7 patients with non­ cluster PFGE patterns indicated a strong association with raw milk. The epidemiological findings led to a quarantine and recall of all Organic Pastures products except cheese aged more than 60 days, and investigations by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Food and Drug Branch (FOB) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). Environmental samples collected at Organic Pastures yielded E. coli O157:H7 isolates that had PFGE patterns indistinguishable from the patient isolates. Organic Pastures raw milk consumed by the case-patients was likely contaminated with this strain of E. coli O157:H7, resulting in their illnesses.  Final Report.

Organic Pastures has been involved in recalls and outbreaks in the past:

Organic Pastures products were recalled for pathogens in 2006, 2007 and 2008. It was tied to a 2007 outbreak of Campylobacter. Most notably, it was quarantined in 2006 after six children became ill with E. coli infections – two with hemolytic uremic syndrome.  The State Report from 2006. 

See also, Raw Milk Myth Buster 1 – Organic Pastures 2006 Raw Milk E. coli Outbreak was caused by Spinach.

2006: 3 strains of E. coli O157:H7 cultured from OPDC heifer feces.  Press Release.

2007: 50 strains of Campylobacter jejuni plus Campylobacter coli, Campylobacter fetus, Campylobacter hyointetinalis, and Campylobacter lari cultured from OPDC dairy cow feces after eight people were sickened.  State Report.

2007: Listeria monocytogenes cultured from Organic Pastures Grade A raw cream.  Press Release.

2008: Campylobacter cultured from Organic Pastures Grade A raw cream.  Press Release.

For more about the risks of raw milk, see Real Raw Milk Facts Dot Com.

  • SIX outbreaks? ONE farm. Astounding.

  • C. McClellan

    Isn’t this farm run by the same mouthy guy who is scheming a raw milk safety certification program to tell other whizbangers how to do things? The inept teaching the incompetent, that should work. This raw milk foolishness has to stop. These reckless jerks will eventually scare us away from all milk. I saw an ad for a new product, milk that is lightly pasteurized unhomogenized. Maybe this will be safe and still meet the imaginary special needs of these dipsos.

  • Janet M.

    How can this place still be in business after all of these outbreaks? I would think that they would have been sued to death.

  • I’ve noticed a local farm now offering cheese made from raw milk. Does the cheese making process make the raw milk any safer?