Posted: Thursday, April 19, 2012 10:00 AM
Four children sick; odds against drinkers of unpasteurized milk, CDC report says
By MITCH LIES
Oregon public health officials have confirmed that raw milk from a Wilsonville, Ore., dairy was responsible for an E. coli outbreak that has sickened at least 18 people and left four children hospitalized.
The outbreak is the second in the Northwest in 18 months linked to a raw dairy product and comes one month after a Centers for Disease Control report showed that 60 percent of disease outbreaks caused by dairy products between 1993 and 2006 were caused by nonpasteurized products.
The preponderance of outbreaks from raw dairy products grows in significance when considering only about 1 percent of U.S. households consume raw dairy products, the CDC report found.
"The fact that 60 percent, almost two-thirds, of the outbreaks can be traced to a nonpasteurized product means that the risk of disease associated with nonpasteurized products is much higher than it is with pasteurized products," said Dr. Katrina Hedberg, state epidemiologist at the Oregon Public Health Division.
"It isn't clear to me why people continue to consume nonpasteurized dairy products," Hedberg said. "The consequences are so severe."
In December 2010, a national food recall was issued after raw milk cheese from an Oroville, Wash., dairy, was found contaminated with E. coli. Eight people were sickened in the Sally Jackson Cheese outbreak.
The most recent outbreak proved more severe as numerous samples from the 17-acre Foundation Farm tested positive for E. coli 0157:H7, as did leftover milk recovered from a customer.
Four children were hospitalized after drinking milk from the farm. Two developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure that can lead to death.
"This many people, this severely ill in this many households must mean that the milk was pretty contaminated," Hedberg said.
In the CDC report, the authors found that of 121 outbreaks for which the product's pasteurization was known, 73 involved unpasteurized products, resulting in 1,571 cases, 202 hospitalizations and two deaths. And 55 of the outbreaks occurred in states that permitted sale of nonpasteurized products, prompting health officials to continue to call for laws restricting the sale of raw milk.
Interstate sale of raw milk is prohibited, but 21 states allow in-state sales of the milk. Thirteen states include some restrictions on sales.
Oregon bans retail sales of raw milk, but allows on-farm sales under certain conditions. Raw milk consumers also can get product through herd-sharing programs, such as was conducted at Foundation Farms. In herd-sharing programs, consumers purchase shares in a herd.
Foundations Farms distributed raw milk to 48 households.
The outbreak apparently hasn't convinced raw milk advocates to curtail use of the product. Raw milk advocates say pasteurizing milk removes vitamins and nutrients and alters its taste.
Friends of Family Farmers, a group that backed a bill to expand the sale of raw milk in the 2011 Legislature, wrote in an e-mail it circulated April 13 that "we do not believe that access to raw milk should be eliminated."
The group wrote that hundreds of people have been sickened by foodborne pathogens from mainstream foods from licensed, inspected plants.
"We believe that people should be able to choose what they eat, and that it is not the government's role to tell us what we can and cannot eat," the group wrote.
Hedberg, meanwhile, took a different stance.
"We're scratching our heads as to why people would choose to consume nonpasteurized dairy products," she said. "The risks related to these pathogenic bacteria, including four kids in the hospital, that is what I'm talking about."
Posted By: Tom Gibson On: 4/25/2012
This article has more half truths and outright lies than anything I have seen in print so far this year. Overblown statements about how much more dangerous raw milk is stating false and carefully parsed statistics to promote an opinion are about all we have been able to get out of the FDA, USDA, and our health departments for some time now. The health departments will give a 100% rating to food that you know is bad for you if it doesn't have any germs on it so they have absolutely no creditability whatsoever. One of the biggest reasons this particular outbreak occurred is because of Oregon's stupid raw milk laws that appear to have been designed to make sure outbreaks occur. If the dairies were allowed to scale up and become Class A dairies with all the prerequisite testing problems like these would be far less likely. Anyway, how come none of the thousands of people that have been affected by salmonella and E. Coli from industrialized milk, meat, vegetables, and fruit suddenly got forgotten. Small local food will always be safer as long as it gets the support it needs and government gets out of the way of creating strong stable food sytems that produce healthy food, not the kind of crap most people end up buying, indluding the crap vegetables, in supermarkets.
Posted By: birdrancher On: 4/20/2012
Title: Not every farmer runs a clean dairy
I have seen both clean raw milk dairy operations with concrete and stainless steel and using disinfectats to clean the cows teats follwed by a complete scrub down of the milking parlor with disinfectant twice a day. Then I have seen filthy operations where the cows are in mud and poop and the milkng area never gets cleaned and forget about disinfecting the teats, they use a cloth rag. I do not buy milk around here for that reason. The farm that had the problems had cows in mud in the photo I saw. Unless you are very careful, bacteria is a problem, It thrives in dirt/mud. Know your farmer. Go out regularly and see exactly how often they clean and how they run their farm. If its dirty don't buy or god forbid eat their products.