E. coli Outbreak in California and Organic Pastures Recall

Organic Pastures whole raw milk has been recalled by its California maker for possible E. coli O157:H7 contamination. At the same time, the Food and Drug Branch of the California Department of Public Health has opened up an environmental investigation at Fresno-based Organic Pastures and has confirmed that they are investigating an outbreak of E. coli O157 illnesses:

“As of February 8, 2016, six children with a unique strain of Shiga-toxin producing E. coli O157 have been identified; of these six children, four have reported drinking Organic Pastures raw milk before they got sick. All six illnesses occurred in January.”

E. coli O157:H7 is toxic and children age 5 and under are in a high-risk group for a complication known as HUS E. coli, or hemolytic uremic syndrome. Early on in most of these cases, children lose kidney function and have to undergo dialysis and/or blood transfusions. Even in milder cases of E. coli O157:H7 infection, people can develop long-term health deficits that burden them for the rest of their lives. The pathogen releases a toxin that fragments blood cells and can damage the vascular system. Stroke, seizure, heart damage, meningitis and paralysis can strike some raw milk E. coli patients.

E coli Bacteria

Organic Pastures Recall Lawsuit

According to California Food Recall Information published by the California Department of Public Health, all Organic Pastures whole milk with the following use-by dates and lot codes have been recalled:

  • USE BY DATE: 1/23/16, LOT CODE: 20160105-1.
  • USE BY DATE: 1/26/16, LOT CODE  20160106-2

Organic Pastures has said the potentially contaminated unpasteurized milk may have been released to the northern and central coast areas of California. “These lot codes did not reach southern California,” the company said.

Raw milk is milk that hasn’t been pasteurized, or briefly heated to at least 161 degrees Fahrenheit to kill harmful germs. There is a long list of public health agencies and doctors who warn consumers against raw milk because of its potential to cause disease, especially in young children, older adults and others whose immune systems are compromised, including some cancer patients. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 148 outbreaks due to consumption of raw milk or raw-milk products were reported to the agency between 1998 and 2011. Organic Pastures raw milk has been associated with food poisoning outbreaks in the past, including one involving a pathogen known as campylobacter.

“Numerous data show pasteurized milk provides the same nutritional benefits as raw milk, without the risk of deadly infections including Listeria, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Brucella and E. coli, the American Academey of Pediatrics has said. The academy not only warns pregnant women and children not to drink raw milk, but it also endorses a ban on the sale of raw or unpasteurized milk or milk products in the U.S., including certain raw milk cheeses.

E. coli Testing

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Category: Food Poisoning
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