A list is now available of the California retailers that received Organic Pastures Dairy Co. raw milk that has been linked to an E. coli outbreak.
The unpasteurized raw milk — which expired Jan. 23 and 26 — was recalled Feb. 4 by the Fresno-based organic dairy.
The California Department of Public Health reported Monday that four children who drank Organic Pastures whole, raw milk developed E. coli infections. At least two other children have identical strains of E. coli poisoning.
A department spokesman Monday he could not release additional information because the investigation is ongoing into the outbreak and its link to Organic Pastures raw milk.
The dairy recalled two lots of its whole, raw milk via its Facebook page at 9 p.m. Feb. 4. One lot had an expiration date of Jan. 23. The other expired Jan. 26. Organic Pastures also posted the recall on its website.
“Our food safety program saved the day,” said dairy founder and CEO Mark McAfee when asked Monday about the CDPH report. “It worked extremely well. We’re proud of that.”
McAfee said the test-and-hold procedure at the 500-cow dairy isn’t a 100 percent guarantee that pathogens are not present in Organic Pastures raw milk products. Raw milk is not pasteurized, which kills harmful germs and bacteria including E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter and Listeria.
McAfee’s track record
Previous recalls and foodborne illness outbreaks linked to Organic Pastures in the past decade include:
October 2015 – Organic Pastures raw milk recall and quarantine after CDFA inspectors found Campylobacter as a result of product testing conducted as part of routine inspection and sample collection at the facility.
September 2012 – Organic Pastures raw milk recall and quarantine after CDFA inspectors found Campylobacter bacteria as a result of product testing conducted as part of routine inspection and sample collection at the facility.
January-April 2012 – Organic Pastures products linked to campylobacter outbreak. Raw milk, raw skim milk, raw cream and raw butter were recalled and the dairy quarantined after the confirmed detection of campylobacter bacteria in raw cream.
State officials identified at least 10 people with campylobacter infections throughout California. They reported consuming Organic Pastures raw milk prior to illness onset. Their median age was 11.5 years, with six younger than 18. The age range was nine months to 38 years.
August-October 2011 — Organic Pastures products linked to E. coli outbreak.
A cluster of five young children with E. coli O157:H7 infections with matching pulse-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns was identified. Illness onsets were from Aug. 25 to Oct. 25. All five children reported drinking commercially available raw milk from a single dairy, Organic Pastures, and had no other common exposures.
Investigations by the CDPH’s Food and Drug Branch and the California Department of Food and Agriculture showed environmental samples collected at Organic Pastures yielded E. coli O157:H7 isolates that had PFGE patterns indistinguishable from the patient isolates.
September 2008 — Organic Pastures Grade A raw cream recall and quarantine after state testing and confirmation testing detected campylobacter bacteria in the cream.
September 2007 — Organic Pastures Grade A raw cream recall and quarantine following laboratory confirmation of the presence of Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. CDFA inspectors found the bacteria as a result of product testing conducted as part of routine inspection and sample collection at the facility.
November-December 2007 — Organic Pastures cows linked to Campylobacter outbreak. State officials found 50 strains of Campylobacter jejuni plus Campylobacter coli, Campylobacter fetus, Campylobacter hyointetinalis and Campylobacter lari when they cultured feces from Organic Pastures dairy cow feces.
There was only one patient isolate available for DNA fingerprinting, but it was identical to isolates from four cattle fecal samples collected at Organic Pastures.
September 2006 — Organic Pastures linked to E. coli O157:H7 outbreak.
Six sick children were identified by state officials. Four had culture-confirmed infections, one had a culture-confirmed infection and HUS (hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can result in kidney failure and stroke), and one had HUS only. The median age of patients was 8 years, with a range of 6 to 18 years.
Organic Pastures’ operators claimed the illnesses were linked to consumption of fresh spinach that was linked to a separate E. coli outbreak in 2006.
However, the five children who consumed Organic Pastures’ products who had culture confirmation were laboratory matches to each other and the CDC reported their specific E. coli isolates “differed markedly from the patterns of the concurrent E. coli O157:H7 outbreak strain associated with spinach consumption.”
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