Washington State Department of Agriculture News Release: Dec. 2, 2009

Three recent E. coli infections in Washington have been linked to drinking raw, unpasteurized milk. As a result, the Washington state departments of Health and Agriculture are reminding consumers of the potential health hazards of these products.

The patients all report drinking raw milk produced by the Dungeness Valley Creamery in Sequim. No E. coli has been found in samples from the dairy’s current batch of milk, but during an investigation at the dairy, WSDA found the same bacteria that caused one of the illnesses.

While most strains of the bacteria Escherichia coli (abbreviated as E. coli) are harmless, others, including E. coli O157, produce a toxin. Toxin-producing E. coli infections may cause severe diarrhea, stomach cramps and bloody stool. Symptoms generally appear three to four days after exposure, but can take as long as nine days to appear. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should contact a health care provider.

Each year, the E. coli strain found in this investigation causes about 100,000 illnesses, 3,000 hospitalizations and 90 deaths in the United States. The infection sometimes causes hemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious disease in which red blood cells are destroyed and the kidneys fail. Infants, children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are especially at risk.

Raw milk is riskier than pasteurized milk because it hasn’t been heated to kill harmful bacteria. Pasteurization kills the bacteria in raw milk that can cause illness. Besides E. coli, raw milk can also contain other potentially serious or life-threatening bacteria that have caused illness outbreaks in the past. These include Salmonella, Campylobacter and Listeria.

Retail raw milk is legal to sell and buy in Washington, but there are serious potential health risks. Consumers should read the warning label on the retail raw milk container carefully and ask their retailer to verify the milk was produced and processed by a WSDA-licensed operation.

  • Marymary

    Interesting. Maybe now WholeFoods will think twice about selling that…stuff!

  • Christina

    I have been drinking milk from this farm for several months now (at two gallons a week for my family) and have never had anything less than superior milk. You’re only promoting the mass-brainwashing that raw, living food is bad and should be pasteurized to unhealthy temperatures. The race of man would not have made it very far if it was life-threatening to NOT pasteurize things like milk. Please use a little common sense.

  • ItNeverHappened

    Perhaps one might want to check facts next time – NEVER has E.Coli been found in milk at Dungeness Valley Creamery. Found in loafing barns yes – E. Coli is in fecal matter – go figure.
    Look here for several articles to back up the above assertion – statements from WDA included.

  • Jamie Wolff

    I read the article about this in the local paper (Port Angeles, WA) and at first I was scared because I drink their milk, but after reading the whole thing through, I realized that it’s just WSDA looking for a way to slander this creamery and raw milk in general. WSDA found no proof that the E.coli incidents were caused by drinking raw milk from this dairy, only that all 3 ill people had drank milk from this dairy. The E. coli that they found at Dungeness Valley Creamery was found in the cow feces in the field, not in the milk. E. coli has not ever been found in this creamery’s facilities or in their milk. I will continue to be a customer and to support raw milk!

  • donovan muhammad

    the risk vs. benefit of drinking raw milk is substantial to say the least. milk that is pasteurized and/or homogenized is a grafted product that is no longer milk. the risk comes when one chooses to drink a product such as soy, rice or a liquid other than raw milk.
    ignorance is the agent of fear and fear is the agent of violence.
    peace is disrupted by casting doubt in firm resolutions.
    what comes from the cow is healthy and agreeable to the drinker.

  • Stephen

    WSDA recently started cracking down on ‘Milk Co-ops’ around the Western Washington area. They are saying that we cannot pick up milk for another individual and store it on our premises without a ‘Grocery License’. They are threatening a $250/day fine on existing milk drop off locations. The license stipulates having a toilet facility and a three basin sink. I myself have participated in a number of these ‘community based food co-ops’ where neighbors get together and order food products in order to ensure highest possible quality at very low prices. The sanitation has always been kept to a very high standard and the milk refrigerators always well maintained. Basically bypassing the middle man stores like Whole Foods and PCC. I personally don’t have a problem with either of these stores, I frequent them often enough. But for the WSDA to come down and say that we cannot organize food buying clubs (just so they can say that they’ve covered their asses) comes dangerously close to the definition of Fascism.
    I also purchase my groceries from Azure Standard. We all meet the large truck that makes its way through Seattle at an appointed time once a month. Are WSDA going to take this one away from us as well? Or just tell us that we cannot store our neighbors groceries (perishable or not) at our own homes for a few hours without a license? This seems rather extreme…

  • I could go to McDonalds, take a culture from a swab in their bathroom and probably find the same culture. Does this mean that all McDonalds are putting people at risk for EColi? This is a misleading article.
    The milk is good. Especially when Spring comes and it’s grazing milk as opposed to winter hay milk.

  • Greg

    I am a huge supporter of raw milk and of buying all my food local, but I am also the “Vancouver man in his 30’s” who got sick presumably from this milk. While I know it could have been from a number of sources, I am fairly sure it was the milk. I purchased the 1/2 gallon on Oct 28th at Whole Foods in Vancouver and took it straight home. I poured a big glass, took 2 huge gulps and nearly threw up, it was absolutely awful. It was acrid and sour and smelled so bad I nearly threw up again. Four days later my stomach started hurting, 7 days later I was in the ER in incredible pain. I missed nearly 3 weeks of work it was so bad. While I am nearly positive it was the milk, I did not lawyer up like the others and have asked nothing from the company, that would go against everything I believe in, although it did make me look a little stupid to get sick from something I am always telling others to do. Maybe one day I will have the nerve to drink raw milk again but not yet.

  • Pat

    i buy raw milk and i will allways buy raw milk, whoever the idiot is who wrote this articale should get his facts right. raw whole milk is a natural medicine, and i encourage people to drink it. this web site is very misleading, and i will continue to buy raw milk, regardless of the fake scare.

  • Chauncey

    This is just like what the government and all the other dairies that pastuerize and homogonize their milk did in california to alta dena dairy back in the 70’s ,who also sold Raw mild , every year they would get sued and every year they would prove their innocence .My ? is why don’t they show you how unhealthy homogonization is for you it is one of the worse things you can put in your body . Raw milk on the other hand is one of the best .