It is unclear whether Pride & Joy Creamery will expand its current recall of unpasteurized raw milk now that state officials have revealed additional positive test results for E. coli in the dairy’s milk.
On Feb. 8, the Toppenish, WA, dairy recalled all of its raw milk with best-by dates from Feb. 10 through Feb. 24 because E. coli was found in plastic jugs of it collected from retail stores. Staff from the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) collected the samples as part of an investigation into Salmonella infections in two people who reported drinking unpasteurized milk from Pride & Joy before becoming ill.
Dairy owner Cheryl Voortman suggested the milk was contaminated by other entities in the supply chain or by the state inspectors.
“The facility was not contaminated with E. coli, the samples that were taken that supposedly tested positive, were purchased from stores in Vancouver and Battleground, WA, and were handled by many people before tested,” Voortman said in her Feb. 12 written comments.
“… They have confirmed absolutely no contamination in the samples we have given them straight from the facility.”
Documents from the state agriculture department show otherwise.
“Basically, the results showed that E. coli STEC was confirmed in one of the samples collected from the Pride and Joy operation,” department Communications Director Hector Castro told Food Safety News Wednesday afternoon.
Neither Cheryl nor Allen Voortman responded late Wednesday afternoon to requests for comment. Their raw milk is priced at $10 per gallon on their website and costs more than $13 per gallon in retail stores.
The milk sample that came directly from the dairy and tested positive for E. coli was in a plastic pint jug with a best-by date of March 3 — which is beyond the dates included in the dairy’s current recall.
“The recall remains in place and, as far as we know, Pride and Joy has not resumed production of retail raw milk,” Castro said.
“Before WSDA will collect more retail raw milk samples for pathogen testing, the firm must conduct a root cause analysis to determine factors beyond the milk processing operation that could contribute to the presence of E. coli in the retail raw milk. At this time, we are waiting to hear back from the firm as to their plan and intended actions.”
The state agriculture department collected six samples at the dairy on Feb. 8 and tested them for E. coli, Campylobacter, Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella, which are all frequently found in unpasteurized raw milk. All six samples were negative for the other three pathogens. One sample was positive for E. coli.
Anyone who has consumed raw milk and developed symptoms of E. coli infection should contact their health care providers and tell them of the possible exposure to the pathogen.
“Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infections may cause severe diarrhea, stomach cramps and bloody stool,” according to the recall notice from the company owners.
“Symptoms generally appear three to four days after exposure, but can take as long as nine days to appear. The infection sometimes causes hemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious disease in which red blood cells are destroyed and the kidneys fail. Infants, children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are especially at risk.”
The Washington state Department of Health notified health care providers and institutions about the raw milk recall, urging that all medical staff be made aware of the recall and potential for E. coli infections.
No confirmed illnesses had been linked to the recalled milk as of the publication of the Feb. 8 recall notice.
Editor’s note: For details on another Washington dairy that is recalling its unpasteurized raw milk after state inspectors found it was contaminated with E. coli, click here.
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