Washington dairy recalls raw milk after positive test for E. coli

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A dairy that has a history of pathogen problems is recalling unpasteurized, raw milk because it has tested positive for E. coli, which can cause serious infections, especially in young children.

Owners of Spanish Sunrise Dairy in Yacolt, WA, posted the recall Tuesday. The recalled unpasteurized milk has a best-by date of Aug. 23, so there is concern that consumers may have unused portions of it in their homes.

“Consumers who have purchased Spanish Sonrise Dairy raw milk with a Best By date of 08-23 are urged not to drink the product and return it to the place of purchase for a full refund,” according to the recall notice on the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s website.

The product, which was bottled in half-gallon glass containers, was sold directly to private customers and at one retail location, Camas Produce in Camas, WA. The dairy has ceased its raw milk operations, said Hector Castro, a spokesman for the agriculture department.

The dairy owners initiated the recall after routine sampling conducted by the department revealed the presence of toxin-producing E. coli in raw cream processed from whole raw milk. Spanish Sonrise Dairy and WSDA continue to work jointly to address the source of the problem, according to the recall notice.

Anyone who has recently consumed unpasteurized milk or other raw dairy products from Spanish Sonrise Dairy and developed symptoms of E. coli infection should immediately seek medical attention. Patients should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to E. coli bacteria so that the proper diagnostic tests can be performed.

Symptoms of E. coli infection often begin slowly with mild belly pain or non-bloody diarrhea that worsens over several days, often becoming bloody. Victims usually develop symptoms three to four days after the exposure, but incubation time varies from one to 10 days.

“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,” according to the Spanish Sonrise Dairy recall notice.

A history of problems
This is not the first time Spanish Sonrise Dairy owners Tina and Jose Rodriguez have had pathogen problems with their unpasteurized dairy products.

In April 2015 the dairy owners recalled raw milk and other unpasteurized dairy products from consumers and several retailers after state lab tests showed contamination with Listeria monocytogenes. Later that month local media reported the owners were closing up shop.

“My husband and I had already decided we were going to sell it (the dairy) in one to five years or so anyway, so we just decided why not do it now,” Tina Rodriguez told The Reflector newspaper in Battle Ground, WA, in April 2015.

The Rodriguez couple filed incorporation documents with the state of Washington in July 2011. The registration expired in July 2014 and was changed to “inactive” status in November that year. The state agriculture department does not routinely review the incorporation status of food-related businesses under its jurisdiction. It does, however, keep track of licensing status.

“Our records show the firm went out of business for retail raw milk products during the April 2015 recall, and didn’t apply for relicensing until November 2016,” Castro told Food Safety News on Wednesday afternoon.

“(They were) licensed on Nov. 30, 2016, (and were) operational for retail raw cow products in January 2017 and for retail raw goat milk in February 2017.”

Retail raw milk is legal to sell and buy in Washington State, but the potential health risks are serious. 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 recall notice posted Tuesday.

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