Organic Pastures E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits - California (2006)


On September 18, 2006, the California Department of Health Services (CDHS) was notified that two patients were hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). One of the patients had been culture-confirmed with an E. coli O157:H7 infection. In the following three weeks, four additional cases were identified, all with a genetically indistinguishable strain of E. coli from the hospitalized patient who had tested positive for E. coli.

CDHS learned that all patients, including the patient hospitalized with HUS who did not test positive for E. coli, had consumed raw milk or colostrum purchased from Organic Pastures in the days before becoming ill, and joined with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) in an environmental investigation of the dairy.

The CDHS/CDFA environmental investigation revealed that Organic Pastures’ dairy products purchased off store shelves contained unusually high aerobic plate counts. In addition, cows from the Organic Pastures Dairy tested positive for E. coli O157:H7, although the strain was not the same strain isolated from ill individuals.

CDHS concluded that the likely source of the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak among Organic Pastures customers was unpasteurized dairy products.

Marler Clark filed two lawsuits against Organic Pastures Farms on February 6, 2007. The lawsuits were filed on behalf of two young children who became ill with E. coli infections after drinking Organic Pastures raw milk. Both cases were resolved.

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