Header graphic for print
Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

E. coli O157:H7 Tests Confirm Bravo Farms Dutch Style Gouda Cheese Linked to Outbreak

Screen shot 2010-11-06 at 10.25.04 PM.pngCDC is collaborating with public health officials in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to investigate a multistate outbreak of human infections due to E. coli O157:H7. This is a rare strain of E. coli O157:H7 that has never been seen before in the PulseNet database. PulseNet is the national subtyping network made up of state and local public health laboratories and federal food regulatory laboratories that performs molecular surveillance of foodborne infections.

Twenty-five persons infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported from five states. The number of ill persons identified in each state with this strain is as follows: AZ (11), CA (1), CO (8), NM (3) and NV (2). Dates of illness onset range from October 16, 2010 through October 24, 2010. Patients range in age from 2 to 81 years and the median age is 14 years.

Preliminary laboratory testing conducted on an opened package of Bravo Farms Dutch Style Gouda Cheese purchased at Costco from a case patient’s home has indicated the presence of E. coli O157:H7.

  • Bill,
    The BRAVO Cheese is produced from CAFO PMO approved Raw Milk and aged at least 60 days. The milk that was used at Bravo was not raw milk that is tested for use as human consumption fluid raw milk ( as permited in CA by state law and strict state standards ).
    It would appear that CAFO Pasteurized Milk Ordinance ( PMO Standards ) raw milk is becoming more and more dangerous. The bad bugs are getting badder and badder with all the antibiotics and hormones and lack of pastures. Remember that the FDA PMO standards require no pathogen tests for the BRAVO Cheese that was made from this low standard and low quality raw milk.
    Please do not confuse low quality, non tested CAFO PMO raw milk with high quality CA CDFA tested inspected raw milk produced for “human consumption”.
    Their are TWO RAW MILKS IN AMERICA. Two different standards and two different intended uses.
    If I had my way…only high quality raw milk that was produced as “intended to be consumed raw” would be allowed to be used for raw milk cheeses. This is currently not the case. Current regs beg for serious challenges ( with regards to CAFO PMO Raw Milk Cheeses ) because bacteria are changing all the time and FDA policy is not.
    Mark McAfee
    Founder OPDC
    Fresno CA

  • Bill Anderson

    Any word on whether this is a real raw milk cheese, or is it made from heat-treated milk?
    Any word on the animal husbandry practices behind the production of this cheese? Are the cows on pasture and getting their entire diet from forage-based sources? Or are they in confinement eating a TMR? Something in between? If so, how much grain are they getting?
    Any word on whether a cutting board was the source contaminant, or the milk itself?
    Somehow I am inherintly mistrustful of a cheese coming from a corporate giant like CostCo, even if it supposedly a “raw milk cheese.” Does not surprise me that it made people sick.
    On the other hand, Estrella and Morningland have both been shutdown without any illnesses, and despite the highly questionable nature of the evidence against them:
    http://www.thecompletepatient.com/journal/2010/11/6/the-mystery-of-the-morningland-dairy-garlic-colby-cheeseslop.html
    One has to wonder whether Bravo Farms has been shut down? Or are they still in business? Can you answer this question Bill Marler?

  • Thanks Mark

  • Bill, Hello from Shanghai. I agree with you that all food producers who have a track record of selling contaminated product should be shuttered. And, I have said on many occasions that raw milk suppliers have been treated more harshly that other producers in the same situation. That is unfair. It does not mean that raw milk suppliers should be given a break. I do not know if Bravo has been shut. I will find that out when I sue them this morning – tomorrow for you.

  • Here is the link on a post I did on unfairness:
    http://www.marlerblog.com/lawyer-oped/is-raw-milk-treated-unfairly/
    Regarding your links to “the gospel according to David Gumpert,” I take what he posts with the same grain of salt I take posts from other bloggers and commentators – that would include you and me.

  • Bill Anderson

    I would take what CDFA and FDA have to say with a grain of salt.
    After all, the FDA still says there is no significant difference between the milk of cows treated with rBGH and those not treated, despite scientific evidence and many empircal observations of farmers and cheesemaker (such as myself) to the contrary. FDA has approved pharmacutical drugs like Avandia that have killed thousands and yet remained on the market for years after their dangers were well known.
    Why do you take David Gumpert with a grain of salt, yet you don’t seem to take the FDA with a grain of salt? Instead you republish their propoganda as if it was gospel truth.
    Oh wait, the government never lies to us, does it? Seriously Bill…

  • Doc Mudd

    The epidemiology comes together in this case and, inevitably, the inane conspiracy theories erupt: oh, it’s CAFOs; it’s the cow feed; it’s Costco; it’s the CDFA and FDA…it’s the danged boogie man who did it.
    Now, with a remarkable suddenness, there are “two raw milks”…in a desperate attempt to make room for a reluctant recognition (finally!) that raw milk is inherently unsafe.

  • L. E. Peterson

    Mr. McAfee,

    I sincerely hope you are lobbying FDA to change the regulations regarding this low quality raw milk being using in raw milk cheeses. However, regardless of milk quality, it should be mandatory that the raw milk suppliers provide microbial certificates of analysis (COA’s) to show that their milk is safe to consume raw. Until it becomes mandatory, the dairy industry needs to make it one of their purchase specifications that the raw milk has to be certified has safe for human consumption. If the supplier can’t/won’t provide a COA then the cheesemaker will no longer accept their product. Radical idea isn’t it?

    The meat industry, with a little help from FSIS (it’s very strongly encouraged as part of their prerequisite programs), now pretty much requires COA’s from all suppliers of beef trimmings and cuts that are to be used to make ground beef. The meat doesn’t ship to the grinders unless the test results are negative for E. coli 0157:H7. It would behoove the raw cheese industry to take a lesson from the meat industry in this circumstance.