November was not a good month for Raw Milk nor at least eight consumers. Two dairies – one small and one large – that sell commercially at retail were linked to E. coli O157:H7 illnesses. Here are the details:
Cozy Vale Creamery’s raw milk products were recalled because they were linked to three E. coli O157:H7 illnesses and after environmental swabbing at the facility discovered that locations in the milking parlor and processing areas were contaminated with the E. coli O157:H7 bacteria. At least two of those cases were children who developed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome. Cozy Vale Creamery’s whole and skim milk and cream were distributed through seven retail outlets in Pierce, Thurston and King counties. The products were sold retail at the farm store and at Marlene’s Market in Tacoma, two Olympia Food Co-Op locations in Olympia, Olympia Local Foods in Tumwater, Yelm Co-op in Yelm, Mt. Community Co-op in Eatonville and Marlene’s Market in Federal Way.
The California State Veterinarian placed raw milk products from Organic Pastures dairy in Fresno, California under a quarantine order. The quarantine order came following a notification from the California Department of Public Health of a cluster of five children who were infected, from August through October, with the same strain of E. coli O157:H7. These children are residents of Contra Costa, Kings, Sacramento, and San Diego counties. Interviews with the families indicate that the only common reported food exposure is unpasteurized (raw) milk from Organic Pastures dairy. Three of the five children were hospitalized with Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, a serious condition that may lead to kidney failure. Surveys indicate that only about three percent of the public report drinking raw milk in any given week so finding 100% of these children drank raw milk and the absence of other common foods or animal exposures indicates the Organic Pastures raw milk is the likely source of their infection.
Organic Pastures has been involved in recalls and outbreaks before:
Organic Pastures products were recalled for pathogens in 2007 and 2008. It was tied to a 2007 outbreak of Campylobacter. Most notably, it was quarantined in 2006 after 6 children became ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections. This is the state report from 2006:
The state report from the 2006 E. coli outbreak shows clearly that the dairy had very high coliform counts, an indirect measure of fecal contamination. Its “colostrum” products had extremely high levels. From page 6 of the report: “Colostrum and chocolate colostrum had fecal coliform counts ranging from 320,000 to 140,000,000 MPN/g.” In addition, three strains of E. coli O157:H7 were cultured from OPDC heifer feces.
2007: 50 strains of Campylobacter jejuni plus Campylobacter coli, Campylobacter fetus, Campylobacter hyointetinalis, and Campylobacter lari cultured from OPDC dairy cow feces.
2007: Listeria monocytogenes cultured from Organic Pastures Grade A raw cream.
2008: Campylobacter cultured from Organic Pastures Grade A raw cream.
Here is a bit more about Organic Pastures: