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article imageE. coli outbreak linked to Organic Pastures raw milk

By Karen Graham     Feb 9, 2016 in Food
Fresno - A California dairy that sells USDA certified organic raw milk and other non-pasteurized dairy products is cooperating with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) in an investigation into an outbreak of E. coli linked to their products.
Four out of six children in a confirmed E. coli infection cluster drank raw milk from Fresno-based Organic Pastures Dairy before becoming ill in late January.
The CDPH confirmed laboratory tests showed all six children had the same unique strain of Shiga-toxin producing E. coli O157. Some of the children required hospitalization. The CDPH is continuing the investigation because other children may have become ill, reports Food Safety News.
“CDPH is continuing to work with local health departments to identify potential case patients that might be associated with this cluster of illnesses,” a health department spokesman said.
The dairy voluntarily recalled its whole milk last Thursday that expired on Jan. 23 and 26. The information on the recall was placed on its website and Facebook page. The statement was somewhat vague on where the milk was distributed, only saying “this product may have been released to the Northern and Central Coast areas of California."
The CDPH has also requested an environmental investigation into Organic Pastures Dairy, but it is not complete at this time. Mark McAfee, the founder, and CEO of the Fresno-based dairy said on Monday that hundreds of samples had been collected at the dairy and none were positive.
“Our food safety program saved the day,” McAfee said Monday when asked about the CDPH report. “It worked extremely well. We’re proud of that.” However, the dairy's internal testing apparently failed when a batch of raw milk tested a "false negative" on January 6.
The milk was distributed. "That false negative wasn’t apparent until last week," he said. On January 7, a test on a batch of raw milk tested positive, and that raised a red flag. The raw milk was not sold under the Organic Pastures brand but was sold to a company that pasteurizes milk. “We’ll never know for sure that the negative was actually false,” McAfee said of the Jan. 6 test.
McAfee says the situation discovered at the dairy is the first of its kind for them. “The scientists always tell us that E. coli comes from manure. But we had a cow with E. coli on the inside of her udder. That’s never happened before,” McAfee said. "The animal tested negative on Jan. 7 and positive for E. coli on Jan. 8. The dairy immediately quarantined the cow," McAfee said.
Organic Pastures' problems in the last 10 years
October 2015: Dairy quarantined after Campylobacter bacteria was detected in raw whole milk.
September 2012: A recall and quarantine after CDFA inspectors found Campylobacter as a result of product testing.
January through April 2012: Recall and the dairy quarantined after the confirmed detection of campylobacter bacteria in raw cream.
August through October 2008: Dairy linked to E. coli outbreak.
September 2008: Dairy quarantined due to campylobacter.
September 2007: Raw milk recall due to Listeria monocytogenes.
November through December 2007: Dairy's cows linked to 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.
September 2006: Organic Pastures linked to E. coli O157:H7 outbreak.
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