The Washington Departments of health and agriculture recently identified raw milk sold by the Dungeness Valley Creamery of Sequim, Washington, as the source of an E. coli outbreak among three Washington state residents.
A Snohomish County child became ill with an E. coli infection after drinking the creamery’s milk in September, and a Clark County man and King County child both became ill with E. coli infections after drinking the raw milk in November.
Before Washington state health authorities announced the outbreak early this week, Dungeness Valley Creamery raw milk could be found at approximately 20 retail stores and various drop-off points on the west side of the state, including Whole Foods Market stores.
Whole Foods Market spokeswoman Vicki Foley said the company’s stores pulled the dairy’s raw milk from the shelves immediately upon being advised of a possible health issue.
“As always, the health of our customers and our team members is our number one concern, and Whole Foods Market is cooperating with the relevant health authorities in their investigation,” she said.
All raw milk sold in the state must meet the requirements for Grade “A” milk set out in state law.
According to the Washington State Department of Agriculture, in the State of Washington raw milk may be sold for three purposes: for further processing, for human consumption, or for animal feed. Dairies can obtain the following licenses from the Department of Agriculture:
Milk Producer License: allows a farmer to sell raw milk to milk processing plants, food processors, or into the general milk pool for further processing. License fee: none.
Milk Processing Plant License: allows a person or company to sell raw milk directly to consumers for human consumption. There are additional requirements that must be met for raw milk, such as bacterial and animal health testing and labeling requirements. License fee: $55 annually.
Animal Feed License: allows a farmer to sell raw milk for animal feed. As required by Chapter 15.37 RCW, Milk and Milk Products for Animal Food, this milk must be labeled that it is “not for human consumption” and has been “decharacterized with harmless food coloring.” License fee: $25 annually.
The Dungeness Valley Creamery is a licensed Grade A dairy that became a certified raw milk dairy in 2006.
All raw milk sold in the state must meet the requirements for Grade “A” milk set out in state law. Retail raw milk producer guidelines and “The Truth about Raw Milk Sales” (pdf) are available on the Department of Agriculture website.