The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has jumped into the Organic Pastures raw milk recall. The whole raw milk has been recalled for possible E. coli O157 contamination.
The product was distributed in northern California and the central coast of California. Use by dates for the products are 1/23/16 (lot code 20160105-1) and 1/26/16 (lot code 20160106-2).
The symptoms of an E. coli O157 infection include severe abdominal cramps, diarrhea that may be watery and/or bloody, a mild fever, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms usually begin three to four days after exposure to the pathogenic bacteria, sometimes up to 10 days. Children under the age of 5 are most susceptible to serious complications from this infection, most notably hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
HUS develops when shiga toxins produced by E. coli bacteria damage red blood cells and clot the kidney’s filtering system. This can cause kidney failure, strokes, heart attacks, respiratory failure, and death.
The symptoms of HUS include lethargy, low or no urine output, pale skin, easy bruising, skin rash, and jaundice. The risk of developing this complication is increased when the patient is treated with antibiotics for an E. coli infection. Proper diagnosis of an E. coli infection is critical to avoid this complication.
One of the biggest problems with E. coli bacteria is that it can take only 10 of the microscopically tiny bacterial cells to cause serious illness. Drinking raw milk is a risk factor for E. coli infections because of the location of the cow’s udders right next to the anus, and the fact that these bacteria can cluster in the milk. Cows naturally harbor E. coli bacteria but are not sickened. Testing cannot uncover all bacteria in products, which is why pasteurization of dairy products is so important.
If you have purchased this recalled Organic Pastures raw whole milk, do not drink it. Throw it away in a sealed container or return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. If you or someone in your family drank this product and has experienced the symptoms of an E. coli infection, see your doctor as soon as possible.