Raw milk products produced by Organic Pastures were the subject of a statewide recall and quarantine order after 5 children were sickened.
From August through October, 2011, five children have contracted E. coli O157 infections after consuming raw milk produced by Organic Pastures of Fresno County, California. These children are residents of Contra Costa, Kings, Sacramento, and San Diego counties. Three of the five children developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a complication of E. coli that can cause kidney failure, stroke, heart failure, pancreatitis, severe high blood pressure, blindness, and other serious health problems.
Under the Organic Pastures recall, all Organic Pastures raw dairy products, with the exception of cheese aged a minimum of 60 days, are to be pulled immediately from retail shelves. Consumers are strongly urged to dispose of any of these products remaining in their refrigerators. Until further notice, Organic Pastures may not produce raw milk products for the retail market. The order also affects Organic Pastures raw butter, raw cream, raw colostrum, and a raw product labeled “Qephor.”
The quarantine order came following a notification from the California Department of Public Health of the cluster of five children who were infected with the same strain of E. coli O157:H7.
Epidemiological Evidence That Organic Pastures Raw Milk is the Source of the E. coli O157 and HUS Illnesses
Interviews with the families indicate that the only common reported food exposure is unpasteurized (raw) milk from Organic Pastures dairy. Surveys indicate that only about three percent of the public report drinking raw milk in any given week. Therefore, finding that 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.
California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) milk and dairy foods safety experts have begun a complete inspection at Organic Pastures dairy – of all facets of operations, from the cows to the bottling plant. Before the quarantine may be lifted, the facility must meet all sanitation requirements under state law. Additionally, raw milk products will be tested to ensure compliance with regulatory standards.