“It’s just the nature of the raw milk industry.  Even with safety precautions in place at the dairy, there is no way to guarantee that raw milk is safe for consumption.”  Dr. Martha Buchanan

According to Food Safety News, Tennessee health officials have given a raw-milk cow-share operation that has been linked to an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that has sickened 9 children — all of them under 7 years old — the green light to start offering its milk to its cow-share members again.

According to a Nov. 8 press release from the Knox County Health Department and the state’s eastern regional Health Department office, three of the infected children developed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), a complication of a potentially fatal strain of E. coli that can lead to kidney failure and other serious health problems. However, due to patient-confidentiality laws, no information about the condition of the children can be made available.

The state’s press release also said that even though several raw milk samples, including the most recently collected samples have been negative for E. coli O157:H7, one raw-milk sample obtained from a consumer and several manure samples collected from the farm revealed the presence of DNA for the toxin produced by E. coli O157:H7 that causes HUS.

“We are pleased that the most recent raw milk sample tested negative but not surprised,” said Knox County Health Department Director Dr. Martha Buchanan.  “Typically in an investigation we’re collecting samples several days or weeks after the product that made people sick was produced.” For that reason, she said, while lab results are important, they are often negative and are only one part of an investigation.”