A California E. coli outbreak has been linked unpasteurized apple juice produced by High Hill Ranch in Placerville. E. coli O111 was found in High Hill Ranch unpasteurized apple juice obtained from a Sacramento County resident who had become ill. This person is one of 13 who contracted E. coli O111 infections in an outbreak linked to the apple juice. Our law firm is investigating this outbreak. Attorneys Fred Pritzker and Eric Hageman are the lead lawyers of E. coli Team.

E. coli O111 Outbreak Timeline

The following is a timeline of this outbreak provided by the County of El Dorado:

  • On October 23, 2015, according to Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services, there were at least 7 cases of E. coli illness among residents of Sacramento County who consumed unpasteurized apple juice either sampled at or purchased from High Hill Ranch between October 10 and October 12, 2015.
  • On October 23, 2015, High Hill Ranch voluntarily discontinued the processing, sale, and distribution of unpasteurized apple juice currently in stock. Unpasteurized apple juice was replaced with a flash pasteurized apple juice product produced and bottled by another local vendor.
  • On October 23, 2015, the County of El Dorado issued a press release advising the public of a voluntary recall of unpasteurized apple juice initiated by High Hill Ranch due to suspected contamination with bacteria, likely a strain of E. coli. Consumers were advised not to consume unpasteurized apple juice purchased on or after October 6, 2015, and to dispose of any remaining product.
  • On October 29, 2015, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) reported 13 ill people associated with the consumption of unpasteurized apple juice from High Hill Ranch. On this date, 3 of these people were laboratory confirmed with E. coli 0111. Two additional patients were later confirmed to have E. coli 0111.
  • On October 30, 2015, High Hill Ranch notified the County that they had submitted samples of unpasteurized apple juice to an independent laboratory for testing for E. coli 0111. However, the juice samples tested were from a separate and subsequent production run after the suspected processing period that may have contained harmful bacteria. Because of this, the test results for these samples have little or no bearing on the outbreak investigation.
  • On November 4, 2015, the County was notified by the CDPH that a sample of unpasteurized juice obtained from one of the ill Sacramento County patients had tested positive for E. coli 0111. This is additional evidence that the source of the outbreak was High Hill Ranch unpasteurized apple juice.
  • On November 5, 2015, the County was notified by the CDPH that all laboratory samples collected from High Hill Ranch on October 21, 2015, by CDPH were negative for the presence of E. coli 0111.

High Hill Ranch has voluntarily discontinued the production and sale of unpasteurized apple juice indefinitely. None of the company’s other products are being investigated.

How Does Apple Juice Get Contaminated with E. coli?

There are several ways apples can be contaminated with E. coli:

  • Farm or wild animals grazing in the orchard can leave behind E. coli-contaminated feces.  Apples that fall to the ground can become contaminated.  If even one contaminated apple is used to make unpasteurized apple juice, gallons of juice may become contaminated.
  • Manure from nearby cattle or the feces of other animals can contaminate irrigation water, which can then contaminate apples or equipment.
  • Animal feces can get into rinsing water.  If that happens and apples are rinsed with E. coli-contaminated water, the bacteria will get onto the apples and into the juice.

Cows, deer, wild pigs and goats can all have dangerous E. coli in their intestines. We even had a case where a llama made a young child very sick.

Can You Sue High Hill Ranch?

Yes, if there is evidence connecting the illness to the High Hill Ranch unpasteurized apple juice, you can sue High Hill Ranch for compensation and justice. You can contact one of the E. coli lawyers at our law firm by using our free consultation form. Your lawsuit will seek money damages for your pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses and any other expenses related to the illness. If your son or daughter was sickened, you can file suit on his or her behalf.