E. coli outbreak linked to Washington-made Raw Milk Cheese


SEATTLE, WA—Oroville, Washington-based Artisan cheese maker Sally Jackson Cheese issued a recall today for all of its cheese products, which are made from raw cow, goat, and sheep milk, because the cheese has been implicated as the cause of eight confirmed E. coli O157:H7 cases in four states: Washington, Oregon, Minnesota, and Vermont. The cheese was distributed to retail outlets across the country.

E. coli O157:H7 causes severe gastrointestinal symptoms, including bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Some people infected by E. coli O157:H7 develop Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), a condition that can lead to kidney failure, central nervous system impairment, and even death. HUS is most likely to occur in young children and the elderly.

The Sally Jackson Cheese recall marks the 12th raw milk-related foodborne illness outbreak in 2010 and highlights the safety issues concerning the use of raw milk in food production. This fall, 38 cases of E. coli O157 infection were confirmed in relation to the consumption of raw milk Gouda cheese produced by California-based Bravo Farms.

Attorney Drew Falkenstein with the Seattle-based food safety law firm Marler Clark believes this recent outbreak is a signal that increased scrutiny needs to be placed on food producers using raw milk. "I had hoped that the several outbreaks and recalls in October and November were the last we'd hear from raw milk in 2010," said Falkenstein, "but that's clearly not the case." Falkenstein represents 10 victims of the Bravo Farms Gouda Cheese E. coli outbreak.

"There may be a silver lining amidst all the cheese chaos though,” said Falkenstein, “Outbreaks and recalls, particularly those involving E. coli, tend to bring a sharper focus to underlying problems. I am certainly hopeful that cheese producers nationally are taking note of what's happening."

Anyone who may have consumed Sally Jackson Cheese products or who may be experiencing symptoms of an E. coli O157 infection is urged to consult a doctor immediately.

MARLER CLARK is the nation’s foremost food safety law firm and has been representing victims of foodborne illnesses including E. coli for nearly 20 years. Visit Marler Clark at www.marlerclark.com for more information. To learn more about E. coli causes and prevention visit www.about-ecoli.com. Information about the risks associated with the consumption of raw milk and raw milk cheeses can be found at realrawmilkfacts.com.