Owners of an organic raw milk dairy in Washington say they have “politely declined” the state’s request that they recall their unpasteurized milk, which showed Salmonella contamination during routine testing by agriculture officials.
Claiming they are being targeted by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, the owners of Pride & Joy Puget Sound LLC posted a notice on the dairy’s Facebook page today after being notified on the positive Salmonella lab report from the state.
Public health officials are concerned that consumers may have unused portions of the implicated unpasteurized milk in their homes because the recalled product has a best-by date of Oct. 4.
A health alert posted today advises the public to not consume Pride & Joy organic raw milk because of the danger of Salmonella infection. All sizes of containers are subject to the alert. The dairy, in Toppenish, distributed the implicated unpasteurized milk via numerous retailers, drop-off locations and its farm store (see list below).
Children younger than 5, elderly people, pregnant women and people with suppressed immune systems — such as cancer patients — are at a higher risk of contracting serious infections from Salmonella exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As of this afternoon, the state officials did not have any confirmed reports of illnesses linked to the dairy. However, earlier this year Washington officials investigated two Salmonella illnesses reported by people who consumed raw milk from Pride & Joy.
That investigation did not yield any positive results for Salmonella, but the dairy’s raw milk tested positive for E. coli bacteria, which generally causes more serious infections than Salmonella.
In February the owners of Pride & Joy — Allen Voortman, Cheryl Voortman, Ricky Umipig and Cindy Umipig — voluntarily recalled raw milk and shut down operations to clean and make other changes suggested by the state to reduce the chance of contamination.
In February, the dairy owners challenged the state’s lab results, saying the E. coli contamination could have occurred at any point in the supply chain after the unpasteurized, organic products left the dairy’s control. Retailers, consumers and officials in the chain of evidence were all cited by the dairy owners as possible sources of the contamination.
In their Facebook post today they took a similar stand.
“We have been targeted again. In a routine sample taken from our farm on Sept. 18, the WSDA (Washington State Department of Agriculture) is claiming they found Salmonella. In an unprecedented event, we have politely declined the ‘voluntary recall,’ ” according to the Facebook post.
“Since we have declined the recall, the WSDA admitted on a recorded phone conference yesterday with our attorneys present, that no one is sick, they can not (sic) shut us down and will not even be retesting our milk since we declined the recall. We will resume business as usual.”
The Pride & Joy owners also say they want to know what kind of Salmonella test the state used and the chain of custody of the sample.
In the state’s health alert, officials said that although unpasteurized, raw milk is legal to sell at retail in Washington, consumers should be aware of the risks.
“Retail raw milk is legal to sell and buy in Washington, but there are serious potential health risks. 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,” according to the health alert.
Anyone who has consumed raw milk from the Pride & Joy dairy recently and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection, referred to as salmonellosis, should immediately seek medical attention.
Generally, symptoms develop within 72 hours of exposure, but it can take up to two weeks in some people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Symptoms can fever, diarrhea that is often bloody, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections, endocarditis and arthritis.
The Washington health alert including the following distribution list, which it obtained from Pride & Joy Dairy’s website:
- Pride & Joy Dairy farm store (Granger)
- Bear Foods (Chelan)
- Better Life Natural Foods (Ellensburg)
- Settler’s Country Market (Ephrata and Moses Lake)
- Sage Mountain Natural Foods (Leavenworth)
- The Mazama Store (Mazama)
- Yoke’s Fresh Market (Richland)
- Glover Street Market (Twisp)
- Lemongrass Natural Foods (Wenatchee)
- Rhubarb Market (Wenatchee)
- Wenatchee Natural Foods (Wenatchee)
- Mill Creek Natural Foods (Union Gap)
- Rosauers Supermarkets (Yakima)
Drop-off group locations:
- Cle Elum
- Marvel Food and Deli (Auburn)
- Battle Ground Produce (Battle Ground)
- The Family Grocer (Duvall)
- Sno-Isle Food Co-op (Everett)
- Marlene’s Market & Deli (Federal Way and Tacoma)
- San Juan Island Food Co-op (Friday Harbor)
- Nature’s Market (Kent)
- Sunshine Corners Nutrition (Kent)
- Skagit Valley Food Co-op (Mount Vernon)
- Central Co-op (Seattle)
- Arnada Naturals (Vancouver)
- Chuck’s Produce (2 locations in Vancouver)
Drop-off group locations:
- Issaquah/Tiger Mountain
- Lake City
- North Bend
- Seattle/Seward Park
(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)