More than 165 people, mostly children, have been sickened so far by raw milk products from Raw Farm LLC.

In reports obtained by Food Safety News from the California Division of Communicable Disease Control and the California Department of Health, the Salmonella outbreak has sickened 165 people across four states. Previously the department of health was reporting a dozen sick. The most recent of the reports is from February this year. The most recent illness was recorded this past month.

“Over the last 30 plus years of practice I have been a vocal advocate for robust public health involvement in disease – especially foodborne illness prevention. It is beyond me to comprehend why public health would remain mute in the face of at least 165 sick, 20 hospitalized and 40 percent of the ill five years or younger – especially raw milk – a risky elixir, The more I think about this the harder it is to figure out why public health would sit on the scientific fact that a food producer of a known high-risk food is sickening hundreds. This includes overwhelming epidemiological evidence of the same WGS pattern in both humans and in milk. Setting aside the “food freedom” argument for a moment that people should be able to eat or drink what they want and feed their kids the same; what about simply informing the public of the facts and letting the public decide for themselves?” said Bill Marler, a Seattle food safety attorney and publisher of Food Safety News.

The number of patients in the outbreak is likely much higher than the numbers reported by the Division of Communicable Disease Control because of underreporting. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that for every confirmed patient in a Salmonella outbreak, there are 29 unreported patients.

Raw Farm LLC, formerly doing business as Organic Pastures, is implicated in the outbreak.

Portions of two reports obtained by Food Safety News were redacted. The outbreak covered in the reports began in the fall of 2023. The median age of patients in the outbreak that sickened 165 people was seven.

“Organic Pastures, aka Raw Farm, a brand of raw milk and other brands of raw milk have been linked to multiple previous outbreaks (of) STEC O157, STEC O103, Campylobacter,” according to the report from the Division of Communicable Disease Control.

The agency reported that the Salmonella outbreak, which affected 165 patients, is the largest in the past decade associated with raw milk. Tests of raw milk from the Raw Farm dairy and raw milk in patient homes matched the outbreak strain of Salmonella.

Fourteen percent of patients with known information required have hospitalization.

Raw Farm ceased production and issued a recall on Oct. 24, 2023, but resumed sales on Oct. 31. Of the patients with information available, 93 percent reported consuming Raw Farm LLC raw milk.

2024 Raw Farm LLC Recalls and Outbreaks:

February 2024 E. coli Raw Milk Cheese Outbreak and Recall

Other 2023 Raw Farm LLC Recalls and Outbreaks:
May 2023 Campylobacter Raw Milk Recall
August 2023 Salmonella Cheese Recall 

Here is bit of history:

Organic Pastures Dairy Company (OPDC) & Raw Farm 
Started OPDC in 2000 – Changed name to Raw Farm LLC in 2020

Organic Pastures Dairy Company Recalls and Outbreaks:
September 2006 Raw Milk E.coli Outbreak: 6 ill/2 HUS 
September 2007 Raw Cream Listeria Recall
December 2007 Raw Milk Campylobacter Outbreak: 8 ill 
September 2008 Raw Cream Campylobacter Recall
November 2011 Raw Milk E. coli Outbreak: 5 ill/3 HUS 
May 2012 Campylobacter Raw Milk/Cream Outbreak: 10 ill, reported illnesses from Jan. thru April
October 2015 Campylobacter Raw Milk Recall
January 2016 E. coli Raw Milk Outbreak: 9 ill/2 HUS

About raw milk
According to the California Division of Communicable Disease Control, raw milk, or unpasteurized milk, is not grass-fed of organic labels. It is about pasteurization. Milk that has not been pasteurized has been shown in numerous recalls and outbreaks to be contaminated with one or more pathogens, including E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, Campylobacter, and Brucella.

From 2009 through 2021, unpasteurized raw milk was associated with 143 outbreaks.

“Pasteurization is considered one of public health’s most effective food safety interventions,” according to the California Division of Communicable Disease.

“Before its use, millions became sick and died from tuberculosis, scarlet fever, typhoid fever, and other diseases.”

Pasteurization was initially developed for wine in the 1850s and adopted for milk about 20 years later. In the 1920s and 1930s, pasteurization of milk became the norm. Now, the sale of raw milk across state lines is prohibited by federal law.

Pasteurization has repeatedly been shown to not decrease milk’s beneficial properties. 

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