SALEM – Oregon state health officials Tuesday said tests confirmed the presence of E. coli from a Clackamas County farm that distributed raw milk, and added that a total of 18 people had reported symptoms.
Four children were hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. All drank raw milk from Foundation Farm.
Oregon Public Health and Department of Agriculture officials said anyone who may have raw milk from the farm should not drink it and should dispose of the milk.
Details: OR health dept fact sheet
The dairy only distributed to 48 households that were part of a herd-share and the milk was not sold in stores, officials said.
Any surfaces that the milk or any products from that farm touched should be cleaned and sanitized with bleach or other disinfectants.
Attorney William D. Marler, who has worked as a food safety lawyer, said most E. coli outbreaks have been reported in products from large restaurant and grocery chains over the past 20 years. The only ones he’s seen from small, local farms came from raw milk.
The bacteria is found in fecal material from cows.
“There’s so much (information) out there where people are told 'It’s healthier for you -- everything from exema to erectile disfunction.’ There’s some confusion with the risks (of raw milk) and you know, it’s serious.”
State of Oregon laws allow goat or sheep milk from only disease-free herds. Herds with more than nine goats or sheep or more than two cows must be from a “Grade A” licensed and inspected dairy, according to Marler's site
“People have become so incredibly disgusted by mass-produced food, from that they go to to organic, then farmers’ markets. I think people are trying to be healthful, safer and they lose a little bit of perspective," he said. "The risks sort of get ignored.”
Oregon state epidemiologist Katrina Hedberg said raw milk is not any healthier than pasteurized and it can carry illness-causing bacteria, calling it “one of the riskiest of all” foods to carry foodborne illness.
“Local producers of food, on average, are doing a hell of a lot better job creating a safe product – but I’m not sure you’re ever going to be able to get around the raw milk issue,” Marler said.