E. Coli Litigation

A resource for E. Coli Outbreak Legal Cases sponsored by Marler Clark

Dairy ProductsView Outbreaks

Dairy Products associated with E. coli outbreaks

Consuming raw milk and other unpasteurized dairy products made from raw milk is an established risk factor for E. coli infection. E. coli and other pathogens are shed in the feces of livestock such as cows and goats and can contaminate milk during the milking process. Although practicing standard hygiene such as washing hands and keeping equipment clean can lower the potential for contamination, pasteurization is seen as the most effective treatment for reducing the number of E. coli and other contaminants found in milk.

Laws regulating the sale of raw milk were passed in the early 20th century, and in what proved to be a major public health success in the United States, the percentage of all food and water-borne outbreaks attributable to milk products dropped from 25 percent in 1938 to about 1 percent by 2005. Today, it is a violation of federal law to sell raw milk packaged for consumer use across state lines (interstate commerce), but each state regulates the sale of raw milk within its own state lines (intrastate). Some states allow licensed or certified dairies to sell raw milk and other unpasteurized dairy products; however, licensing or certifying dairies to sell raw milk does not guarantee that a safe product will be produced.

Because raw milk sales have not been outlawed altogether, outbreaks associated with raw milk continue to occur. There have been numerous documented outbreaks of E. coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter infections directly linked to the consumption of unpasteurized milk in the past 20 years. Current outbreak information related to raw and pasteurized milk products is readily available at Real Raw Milk Facts.

Bravo Farms Dutch Style Gouda Cheese sold at Costco stores in the Western United States was determined to be the source of an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak among at least 38 people in the fall of 2010. The cheese was featured during the “cheese road show” held at Costco Warehouse Stores from October 5 to November 1, 2010. US Marshals and Food and Drug Administration agents seized 80,000 pounds of cheese after discovering numerous food safety violations at the Bravo Farms cheese manufacturing facility. In addition to E. coli O157:H7, cheese samples tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes, another foodborne pathogen.

In 2009, the Lawrence County Health Department (LCHD) of Lawrence County, Missouri, investigated an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak among customers of the Herb Depot, a Barry County, Missouri, business. As the E. coli outbreak investigation progressed, LCHD investigators learned that victims of the E. coli outbreak, including one from Barry County, had consumed raw goats milk produced at Autumn Olives Farm, and sold at the Herb Depot, in the days before exhibiting symptoms of E. coli infection. Four E. coli outbreak victims were identified, one with HUS. Three culture-confirmed individuals tested positive for an indistinguishable strain of E. coli O157:H7 that had never before been reported in Missouri. LCHD concluded its outbreak investigation, and reported that, "the epidemiological findings strongly suggest the unpasteurized goat's milk from Farm A [Autumn Olive] was the likely source of infection for each of the cases associated with this outbreak." See Herb Depot and Autumn Olives Farm Raw Milk E. coli Lawsuit.

Raw milk can be a source of E. coli infection

In 2006, the California Department of Health Services (CDHS) investigated an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak among people who had consumed raw cow milk and milk-products produced by Organic Pastures Farm. Isolates from five case-patients produced a genetically indistinguishable strain of E. coli O157:H7 that had never before been reported, and the only common exposure to potential E. coli sources for these patients was the consumption of Organic Pastures raw milk. CDHS ultimately concluded that "the source of infection for these children was likely raw milk products produced by the dairy." See Organic Pastures E. coli Lawsuits.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), Washington Department of Health (WDH), and Clark County Health Department (CCHD) jointly investigated an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in 2005. During the investigation, CCHD interviewed case-patients and learned that all had consumed raw milk products produced at Dee Creek Farm in Woodland, Washington, prior to becoming ill with E. coli infection. The unpasteurized milk had been purchased as part of a cow-share program, which WSDA had become aware of several months before the outbreak occurred. Prior to the outbreak, WSDA had ordered the farm to cease the dispensing, giving, trading, or selling of milk or to meet requirements for selling milk that had been laid out by WSDA. During a farm inspection related to the E. coli outbreak, WSDA inspectors noted several milk processing violations. In addition, sample testing confirmed the presence of E. coli O157:H7 in two milk samples provided by Dee Creek Farm and in five environmental samples taken from Dee Creek Farm milk-barn areas. When its investigation was completed, WSDA had identified 18 people who had consumed raw milk purchased from Dee Creek Farm through the cow-share program and developed symptoms consistent with E. coli infection. Five children were hospitalized due to their E. coli infections; two developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and underwent extensive medical procedures during their hospitalizations. See Dee Creek Farms Raw Milk E. coli Outbreak Litigation.

In 2001, an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak among students attending Prospect School in Robeson, North Carolina, their family members, and teachers was traced to the consumption of unpasteurized homemade butter served at the Prospect School Thanksgiving Feast. Investigators form the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) identified 200 people who exhibited symptoms of E. coli infection during the outbreak; 26 tested positive for E. coli O157:H7.

  • Bravo Farms Gouda Cheese E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits & Litigation

    The Marler Clark E. coli attorneys successfully represented 8 people who became ill with E. coli infections after eating Gouda cheese made by Bravo Farms.  People from 6 states became ill with E. coli after eating the Bravo Farms Gouda cheese in the last few months of 2010.

  • Dee Creek Farms Raw Milk E. coli Outbreak Litigation

    The E. coli lawyers at Marler Clark represented the families of children who became ill with E. coli infections after drinking raw milk produced by Dee Creek Farm in southwestern Washington state.

  • Herb Depot and Autumn Olives Farm Raw Milk E. coli Lawsuit

    The Marler Clark law firm filed an E. coli lawsuit against Herb Depot, the seller of E. coli-contaminated raw goat’s milk, on July 29, 2008.  The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a young child who became infected with E. coli O157:H7 and subsequently developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and was hospitalized for 19 days.  The firm represents two other individuals who became ill with E. coli infections after drinking raw goat’s milk.

  • Organic Pastures E. coli Lawsuits

    Marler Clark filed two E. coli lawsuits against Organic Pastures on February 7, 2008.  The lawsuits were filed on behalf of two children who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) secondary to E. coli O157:H7 infection.  Both children were hospitalized for over a month after drinking Organic Pastures raw milk products.  The children’s claims have been resolved.