June 2, 2020

Where Did MO E. coli Victims Get The Raw Milk Products?

Raw milk products have been identified as a possible source of a Missouri E.coli outbreak that has sickened several people. Raw milk sales aren’t permitted in every state, so how could these products end up sickening Missouri consumers?

Splash of milk on a white backgroundLaws governing the sale of raw milk vary from state to state. In Missouri, it’s legal for farmers to sell raw milk products directly to customers who visit their farms, but they can’t sell it a distribution center off site. Ten months ago, for example, in another E.coli outbreak linked to raw milk produced on a Missouri farm, consumers purchased the milk directly from the farm.

But cheese is different. Cheese made from raw milk can be sold legally anywhere in the US if it has been aged for 60 days. That is how Flory’s Favorite cheese, made with raw milk produced by Homestead Creamery in Jamesport, MO ended up on store shelves in Missouri and Iowa.

A recall for 250 pounds of the cheese was issued January 14. The product, which has “Packed On 210” on the label, was sold at HyVee in Liberty, Mo., HyVee in Trenton, Mo., Benedict Builders’ Farm in Knob Noster, Mo. and Milton Creamery in Milton, Iowa.

Tests  of the cheese by the Missouri State Health Laboratory were positive for E. coli. The recall announcement by the Missouri Department of Agriculture did not specify what strain or say if consumption of the cheese was associated with any illnesses.

The maker of the raw dairy products associated with the E.coli outbreak announced January 11, by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has not yet been named. “The public has a right to know,” said Fred Pritzker, a food safety advocate and lawyer who represents victims of food poisoning. “Information about where these products were purchased should be made public.” One of the outbreak victims, a toddler has been hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious condition that develops after some E.coli infections that can lead to kidney failure.

From 1987 to 2010, there were at least 133 outbreaks associated raw milk and raw milk products, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The outbreaks caused 2,659 illnesses, 269 hospitalizations, 3 deaths, 6 stillbirths and 2 miscarriages.

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