By MITCH LIES
Oregon health officials have confirmed what they suspected: That raw milk from a Wilsonville farm was contaminated with E. coli.
Officials said April 17 they found E. coli 0157:H7 in Foundation Farm's milk, manure and its cows, said Christine Stone, spokeswoman for Oregon Public Health.
The announcement eliminated any doubt about the origin of an outbreak that has sickened up to 18 people and left four children hospitalized with kidney ailments.
Brad Salyers, who owns the dairy, agreed to stop selling the milk last week, after officials traced the outbreak to his farm.
Stone said officials found E. coli in lab tests of samples from the dairy's farm equipment, from manure and from leftover milk recovered from one household.
Raw milk is banned from sale in Oregon stores but allowed on-farm under certain limitations. Also, raw milk can be obtained through herd-share programs, as it was in the case of Foundation Farms, where customers purchase a portion of a herd.
Situated on 17 acres in Clackamas County, Foundation Farms sells milk to 48 households. The dairy reportedly has four Jersey dairy cows, including three that are lactating.
Katrina Hedberg, Oregon Public Health epidemiologist, said raw milk is no healthier than pasteurized milk. And, she said: "Raw milk can carry harmful bacteria that can make you very sick or kill you."
Advocates for raw milk say the milk tastes better and is healthier.