Raw Milk Recall
The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that raw milk produced by a Fresno dairy is being recalled after five California children, including two siblings in Contra Costa County, became ill from bacteria believed to have been in the milk. The children were sickened by the same strain of E. coli, according to public health epidemiologists. While investigators have not been able to find that strain in the milk, all five children had recently consumed raw milk from Organic Pastures dairy. The milk appears to be the only commonality between all the children.
The state public health and food and agriculture departments issued the recall notice Tuesday. It affects all Organic Pastures raw dairy products except for cheeses aged for at least 60 days.
Organic Pastures Chief Executive Mark McAfee said Wednesday that the dairy has not found E. coli in any of its products tested, and he’s not convinced the children were sickened by his milk. He added that he’s cooperating with state investigators.
State officials on Wednesday upheld a recall and quarantine of raw milk products from a California dairy after three children were sent to hospitals with E.coli poisoning in the nation’s latest outbreak related to the unpasteurized product. The ruling came at a hearing by the California Department of Food and Agriculture after the owner of Organic Pastures Dairy Co. appealed for the recall to be lifted.
“This happened two to three months ago and all of our milk, including the milk these kids actually drank, is testing fine,” company owner Mark McAfee said.
Responding to a Quarantine or Recall
McAfee is not alone in confronting a potential recall/quarantine based on a commonality alone and not a positive test for pathogens.
Producers in this scenario need to contact counsel and work quickly to cooperate with authorities. A food attorney can guide you through the process of complying with quarantine and recall orders until they are lifted, challenging a finding, and appealing a ruling.
The top concern for producers is to quickly respond to mitigate any risk to consumers. Ensuring that potentially dangerous products are recalled from the market is vital to protect consumers. This is followed by a need to protect the brand and in some cases the industry. One botched recall can be devastating for a producer and can impact the entire industry – look at the Spinach recall of 2009 or the cantaloupe recall this year.
Failure to properly handle the response in the end can be a costly choice.
Leave a comment