October 19, 2021

Organic Yogurt E. coli Outbreak Expands, Investigation Continues

An E. coli outbreak linked to organic yogurt sold under the brand names Pure Eire and PCC Market now includes 16 cases, a spokesperson told Food Poisoning Bulletin today. Most of the people sickened are children. Ten people have been hospitalized, and four have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a form of kidney failure associated with E. coli infections.

Organic Yogurt E. coli Outbreak Expands, Investigation Continues

The organic yogurt E. coli outbreak includes 14 cases in Washington and two cases in Arizona. Both cases in Arizona are considered secondary infections, meaning the Arizona patients did not eat the yogurt but were in close contact with a visitor from Wahington who did.

The grass-fed, organic yogurt associated with the outbreak is produced by Pure Eire Dairy of Othello, WA  and sold under the brand names Pure Eire and PCC Market, both of which issued recalls on May 15.  The PCC brand yogurt was sold at PCC Community Markets in the Seattle area. The Pure Eire yogurt was sold at a number of stores including Super 1 Foods, Andy’s Market, and Blue Valley Meats in Walla Walla County.

When they were notified of the outbreak, the owners of Pure Eire Dairy voluntarily stopped production of all products, but have recently re-started production of pasteurized milk, the spokesperson said. Yogurt production is still paused.

Organic Yogurt E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak

Health officials used genetic tests to identify the specific “fingerprint” of the E. coli cultured from each patient. Matching fingerprints indicate that the patients were sickened by the same source. The fingerprints for all 16 confirmed cases in this outbreak match.

During interviews with health officials, these patients were asked about the foods they ate the week before they became ill. Organic yogurt was one of these foods. Now, investigators are testing yogurt and milk samples they have collected from patients and during on-site investigations. The results of these tests are pending.

Health officials have also visited retail locations to make sure all of the recalled product was removed from dairy cases.

Symptoms of E. coli, HUS

Many E. coli strains are harmless, but some, like the strain linked to this outbreak, E. coli O157:H7, produce a substance that is poison to humans called a Shiga toxin. E. coli O157:H7 bacteria live almost exclusively in the intestines of cattle.

Symptoms of an E. coli infection include abdominal cramps and diarrhea that can be bloody. Usually, these symptoms develop within three to five days of eating contaminated food. The people sickened in this outbreak said they first fell ill on dates ranging from March 9 to April 21, 2021.

HUS is a complication of E. coli infections that predominantly affects children. Between 5 percent and 10 percent of E. coli patients develop HUS. It causes kidney failure, seizure, stroke, coma, and death. HUS symptoms usually develop one week after the onset of E. coli symptoms. They include pale skin, decreased urination, fatigue, fainting, unexplained weakness and bruising, and bloody diarrhea. Anyone with HUS symptoms should seek immediate, emergency medical care.

The Food Poisoning Attorneys At Pritzker Hageman 1-888-377-8900

If you or a loved one have been sickened with an E. coli infection or HUS after eating recalled Pure Eire or PCC Market yogurt, please contact our experienced lawyers for help at 1-888-377-8900 or 612-338-0202.

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