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Dairy recalls raw milk for E. coli; best-by dates through June 21

Anyone who has raw goat milk on hand from St. John Creamery should not consume it because samples have tested positive for E. coli, which can cause serious and sometimes fatal illnesses.

The Monroe, WA, based creamery issued the recall Thursday. The recalled raw milk has best-by dates between June 17 and June 21. The dairy has voluntarily and temporarily ceased sales, according to local media reports.

“The recall was initiated after ‘the presence of toxin-producing E.coli in retail raw goal milk dated 6/17’ was discovered during routine sampling by the Washington State Department of Agriculture.,” according to the alerts.

Included in the recall are half-gallon and one-pint containers of raw goat milk with best-by dates from June 17-21. At this time, there are no known illnesses associated with the recalled product.

The dairy had a similar recall in July 2013. That recall was also triggered because routine testing by the state agriculture department showed E. coli contamination in St. John Creamery’s unpasteurized, raw goat’s milk.

Consumers are being asked to discard or return their raw milk for a full refund. The unpasteurized goat milk was sold at various Western Washington retail stores; at the farm store at 28408 Fern Bluff Road; and directly to customers via drop groups.

Anyone who has consumed any of the recalled milk and developed symptoms of E. coli infection should immediately seek medical attention and tell their doctors about the possible exposure. Specific tests are required to diagnose E. coli infections.

It can take up to 10 days for symptoms of E. coli infection to develop. Consequently, anyone who has consumed the recalled raw milk or served it to their children or others should watch for symptoms in the coming days.

Symptoms often begin slowly with mild belly pain or non-bloody diarrhea that worsens over several days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other symptoms can include severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting. If there is fever, it usually is not very high, less than 101 degrees F.

If bloody diarrhea develops, immediate medical attention is recommended.

A life-threatening complication — hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) — impacting the kidneys can occur, especially in children. It develops an average of seven days after the first symptoms appear, often when the diarrhea is improving.

It is within the law to sell unpasteurized milk and other raw dairy products at retail locations, according to Washington state law. However, state health officials caution that it carries significant risks, especially for young children, the elderly, pregnant and nursing women, and anyone with a suppressed immune system, such as cancer patients.

State law requires unpasteurized, raw milk and raw dairy products to carry warning labels:

“The potential health risks are serious,” according to state officials. “Consumers should read the warning label on the retail raw milk container carefully and ask their retailer to verify the milk was produced and processed by a WSDA-licensed operation.”

There are currently only 32 licensed raw milk operators in the state.

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