In 2008, seven people fell ill in Connecticut after consuming raw milk that may have been contaminated with E. coli. The raw milk was produced by the Town Farm Dairy in Simsbury, Connecticut. The farm has since stopped the production and sale of all milk products. Investigators say that drinking raw milk from Town Farm Dairy was a common link among patients.

Two of the victims of this outbreak are toddlers who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), the leading cause of kidney failure in children in the United States.

Unlike pasteurized milk, raw milk has not been treated to kill harmful bacteria such as E. coli and Listeria monocytogenes. Federal regulations require that all milk products produced for interstate sale be pasteurized.  Connecticut allows the sale of raw milk, but there must be a label on the product saying that this product contains organisms that may be harmful to human health.

Some dairies won’t sell someone raw milk unless that person signs a contract saying that the dairy will be held harmless if the person becomes ill. If you signed a contract with a dairy and then became ill, contact us regarding the validity of the contract.

Circumstances at Town and Farm Dairy may have caused or contributed to the contamination. The dairy was originally shut down by its owner in 2003, but was reopened recently by a group known as Friends of Town Farm Dairy.  The group running the dairy had hired farmers to run daily operations, but the farmers left July 1, 2008, leaving the group’s board members and volunteers to operate the farm.

The contaminated milk was purchased with sell-by dates of June 24, July 4, and July 16, 2008, which was during the transition period of the farmers leaving.  The timing of the outbreak suggests not enough attention was being paid to the safety of the dairy products during the transition period and after.