Herb Depot & Autumn Olives Farm Raw Milk E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits - Missouri (2008)


In early May of 2008, the Lawrence County, Missouri, Health Department (LCHD) learned that a child had been hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) secondary to E. coli O157:H7 infection. The health care provider who reported the child’s illness reported that the child had consumed raw goat’s milk purchased at the Herb Depot in Barry County, Missouri.

Shortly thereafter, LCHD learned that another Barry County child had tested positive for E. coli O157:H7 infection and that the child had also consumed raw goat’s milk from Herb Depot.

LCHD conducted epidemiological and environmental investigations, and determined that the raw milk consumed by both children suffering from E. coli infections had been produced at Autumn Olives Farm. In addition, LCHD announced that two additional cases had been connected to the outbreak. Each of the cases were from different counties in Southwest Missouri, and shared a common exposure to Autumn Olives Farm.

All cases that cultured positive for E. coli O157:H7 during the outbreak shared a common, indistinguishable strain of E. coli O157:H7 that had never before been reported in Missouri. LCHD reported that “no other plausible sources of exposure common to all four cases were identified [other than the milk.]” LCHD ultimately concluded that “the epidemiological findings strongly suggest the unpasteurized goat’s milk from Farm A [Autumn Olives] was the likely source of infection for each of the cases associated with this outbreak.”

The Marler Clark law firm represented three individuals who became ill with E. coli infections during the outbreak traced to Autumn Olives Farm raw goats milk. The lawyers filed the first lawsuit against Herb Depot in connection with the raw goat milk E. coli outbreak on July 29, 2008. All cases have since been resolved.