By MITCH LIES
Umpqua Dairy said this week they are back in business after an outbreak of salmonella cases caused them to shut down for a week to sterilize processing equipment.
"We have taken numerous steps to assure the health and safety of our customers, and are pleased to be returning to our regular production schedule," Doug Feldkamp, president of the dairy, said Aug. 25.
The dairy said 160 lab tests and 40 product samples revealed no traces of salmonella in products or on equipment. The tests were conducted by an independent Seattle lab with oversight from the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
The dairy on Aug. 18 issued a recall for milk, half-and-half, cream, buttermilk and some fruit juice produced at its Roseburg, Ore., facility after finding salmonella on equipment.
The voluntary recall was for products purchased on or before Aug. 16.
Ice cream and other dairy products, like sour cream and cottage cheese, were not part of the recall.
The recall stemmed from multiple salmonella cases that were reported to the Oregon Public Health Division since October 2009. In all, public health officials identified 23 salmonella cases that originated from contact with Umpqua Dairy products.
Two people were hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
Officials believe people came in contact with the salmonella from the exterior of the dairy's product packaging.
The salmonella discoveries puzzled public health officials, who typically don't find salmonella in pasteurized products.
"This was a head-scratcher from the get-go," said Paul Cieslak, communicable disease manager at Oregon Public Health. Pasteurization kills salmonella organisms, Cieslak said.
"The cases kept dribbling in," he said, "one, two, three a month. It was very difficult for us to figure this whole thing out."
Eventually, Public Health officials, working with Oregon Department of Agriculture officials, identified the dairy facility as a possible source and swabbed equipment at the plant.
Lab tests identified the salmonella strain on swabs was the same as detected in the salmonella cases.