Organic Pastures Dairy Co. of Fresno, CA, is again recalling its raw milk products because of contamination with pathogens. This time California inspectors found Salmonella bacteria in the company’s raw cream.
No illnesses had been linked to the unpasteurized, raw cream as of the posting of the May 9 recall notice by the California Department of Public Health.
However, health officials are concerned consumers could become ill because they may have the contaminated raw milk product in their homes. The recalled raw cream has a “code date” of May 18, according to the recall and quarantine order from California State Veterinarian Annette Jones.
In addition to unpasteurized, raw cream, also under recall and quarantine are Organic Pastures Dairy Co. raw milk and raw skim milk. All of the recalled products have a May 18 date code.
“Consumers are strongly urged to dispose of any product remaining in their refrigerators,” according to the state’s notice.
“CDFA (California Department of Food and Agriculture) inspectors found the bacteria as a result of product testing conducted as part of routine inspection and sample collection at the facility.
According to the California Department of Public Health, symptoms of Salmonella infection include fever, abdominal cramps and diarrhea which may be bloody. Most persons infected with Salmonella develop symptoms 12 to 72 hours after exposure.
While most individuals recover in four to seven days without medical intervention, some may develop complications that require hospitalization. Infants, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are at highest risk for more severe illness.
Dairy owner blames fellow farmer’s eggs
Mark McAfee, owner of Organic Pastures, told the Fresno Bee newspaper that the dairy never has tested positive for salmonella. He theorized the Salmonella contamination came from eggs he was distributing for a fellow farmer.
“We have discontinued distributing the eggs, and we are confident the problem has been taken care of,” McAfee told the Fresno Bee.
In January this year at least 10 people in California were infected with E. coli O157 that was confirmed to match E. coli at Organic Pastures Dairy Co. (OPDC). As of March 3 when the state last reported on that outbreak, four people had been hospitalized and two children developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) a serious condition that attacks the kidneys.
“Of these 10 case-patients, nine were interviewed and one patient was lost to follow-up and never interviewed,” according to the March 3 report. “Of the nine that were interviewed, six reported consuming OPDC brand raw milk prior to illness onset and three denied known raw milk exposure.”
The past decade at Organic Pastures
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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