Douglas Powell of the Food Safety Network say that seven children have been stricken with E. coli O157:H7 in Woodland, Washington, and four of them remain in serious condition in hospital, after drinking contaminated raw milk.
Dee Creek Farms, an unlicensed and uninspected farm near Woodland, provided the raw milk that sicked the children.
Raw milk is unpasteurized and is therefore extremely susceptible to contamination by bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella. Cheese and other dairy products made with raw milk carry the same risks.
Contamination in unpasteurized milk is very common, as well as the illnesses associated with infection. In Colorado City, Arizona, Meadowayne Dairy’s raw milk became contaminated with salmonella.
Two children were also sicked with E. coli after drinking raw milk sold off of the back of a truck in Barrie, Ontario. There was an E. coli outbreak last year involving three people in Whatcom County tied to illegal raw milk, and in 2003, three people in Yakima County and eight in Skagit County became ill from tainted milk.
And in 2004, an Edmonton-area cheese producer abandoned the business after a Gouda cheese made from unpasteurized milk led to 11 cases of E. coli O157:H7 poisoning, including a two-year-old girl who developed HUS from the infection.
Although raw milk advocates say that there are health benefits associated with drinking unpasteurized milk, research shows that there is little to no difference between raw and pasteurized milk except the harmful bacteria.