November 16, 2011

Organic Pastures Raw Milk Recalled

Yep, another installment in our raw milk series.

On my way to work this morning I heard a story on Northstate Public Radio (NPR) about raw milk from Organic Pastures being recalled and quarantined after five California children got sick with E coli.  Organic Pastures distributes their raw milk products throughout the state.  Their products are available locally at Chico Natural Foods. 

According to The Fresno Bee, "Although laboratory samples of Organic Pastures milk have not detected E. coli contamination, the state will not allow the dairy to resume production until it meets all sanitation requirements. State investigators and food-safety experts have begun a complete inspection of the dairy."

Sounds reasonable, right?

Joel Salatin, owner of Polyface Farms and author of, among other books, Everything I want to do is Illegal, would surely cringe at the mention of state inspection of the dairy.  He, like some of the people who commented on the Fresno Bee article, points out that government inspection is a product of the industrialization of food  Unfortunately, often government guidelines that are reasonable and necessary for industrial producers, fall unfairly on small- to mid-sized, family owned and operated farms.  In his book he documents an incident when Polyface Farms lost a whole batch of chickens because a state lab report tested positive for salmonella.  Only later did he discover that the lab sample in question had fallen on the floor of the state testing facility before being tested.

Organic Pastures regularly tests its milk and posts its bacteria counts and E coli results on its website.  None of their own tests have shown any E coli.  Sure, those are the farm's own tests.  What would they do if they did find e coli?  I don't know.

Figuring out where a food poisoning outbreak started is an inexact science.  The research is completed by having consumers and parents complete questionnaires regarding what they or their children have eaten in the past few weeks.  (Think about that:  Just real quick, jot down everything you, or anyone in your household, ate yesterday.)  The reason for this shutdown of Organic Pastures is that their milk was the common denominator on those questionnaires for all five families.

I am very interested to see what is reported after the state completes their inspection of the dairy...

Nov 17 Update:  Cheeseslave's post about this brings some clarification regarding the lab testing.


In other news, our cooler arrived safely via UPS yesterday.  Four half gallon jars and a pint jar fit into it nicely, but it would be a stretch to fit six half-gallon jars into it, should we decide to take advantage of that third herdshare that we purchased.  Now, to find ice packs that will fit into it with the jars.
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  1. Wow. Organic Pastures, out of EVERYTHING I eat or drink during the day, is the one thing that I never worry about. I trust their business and know that if ever there was a contamination issue, they would VOLUNTARILY alert their loyal customers.

  2. AgainstthegrainNovember 17, 2011

    We are so bummed to not be able to get OPDC raw milk right now. It has been our milk choice since 2006, starting just a few months before *that* recall. Interesting that there is a massive lettuce recall going on right now due to e. Coli contamination, too, much like the spinach recall of 2006 due to e. Coli. And of course, we were consuming the same milk during the time frame of the sickened children.

    All I know is that if we were ever to come down with serious food poisoning (we seem to have cast iron stomachs, with GI issues only being rare and from viruses that go around), it would be relatively easy to trace the vast majority of the food I serve my family (disclaimer: my 10 yo son does eat far too many snacks from the nearby 7-Eleven, but that's decidedly without my blessing - so tracing his complete food sources would be quite a bit tougher). I make most of our meals from scratch, so the majority of my food purchases are for single ingredient foods, not factory made food products. 90% of our produce hails from a very local CSA, the rest from one or two local natural food stores (and I chose our CSA farm's products at those two stores when practical, too).

    Most of our meat is either bulk purchases (half animals) stored in our freezer raised by people I know (and they know their processors), or game meat gifted from family members who hunt. Poultry is nearly always from one producer, sometimes two. Eggs are from two local "backyard" sources or Vital Farms pastured eggs via Whole Foods.

    The wild cards would be food eaten away from home, which we do less and less often, for a lot of reasons, including not wanting to eat cr*p.

  3. Brianna, Thanks so much for reading. It's amazing how much support Organic Pastures is getting from their customers on the web. That says a lot about the business' integrity> Thank you for your comment.

    Againstthegrain, Yeah, that lettuce seems like a more viable culprit, doesn't it? I love that you but your meat in bulk. We are working in that direction, just trying to get through the initial cost. You're an inspiration. (And I so appreciate that your kid eats from 7-ll. It's terrible how much candy and junk my 7-yr old eats, and yet it's probably so much less than most kids her age. Thanks so much for your comment!