Organic Pastures in Raw Dairy Recall After 5 Children Sickened, 3 Hospitalized, by E.Coli O157:H7; Customers Express Support, As OPDC Appeals

Organic Pastures Dairy Co., the nation’s largest raw dairy said it is recalling all its raw dairy products after it was informed by public health authorities that five children were sickened by E.coli 0157:H7. Three were hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome.

The Fresno dairy is under quarantine and, according to a press release from the California Department of Food and Agriculture, “Until further notice, Organic Pastures may not produce raw milk products for the retail market. The order also affects Organic Pastures raw butter, raw cream, raw colostrum, and a raw product labeled ‘Qephor.'”

The CDFA release added,  “Interviews with the families indicate that the only common reported food exposure is unpasteurized (raw) milk from Organic Pastures dairy. Three of the five children were hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious condition that may lead to kidney failure. There have been no deaths. Surveys indicate that only about three percent of the public report drinking raw milk in any given week so finding 100% of these children drank raw milk and the absence of other common foods or animal exposures indicates the Organic Pastures raw milk is the likely source of their infection. “

Two of the children were reported by the authorities to still be hospitalized, according to OPDC’s owner, Mark McAfee.

He said he was notified at noon today by the California Department of Public Health and the California Department of Food and Agriculture that “over the course of an eight-week period” in August, September, and October, five children who had been reported to have consumed raw milk tested positive for E. Coli O157:H7.


Mark McAfee of Organic Pastures Dairy Co. (right) with Michael Schmidt at the Weston A. Price Foundation national conference after they announced plans on Saturday for an alliance of RAWMI with Cow Share Canada. According to McAfee, all pathogen tests completed on the dairy’s products by the public health authorities and a private lab commissioned by OPDC have been negative. In addition, “It has been reported to us by the California Department of Public Health that as of today all products collected from the ill patients have been negative for E. Coli O157:H7.”

One mother of a sick child, Melissa DeVore, reported on the OPDC Facebook page, “My son was one of the E.coli children. He was a lucky one who didn’t have to be hospitalized. My heart goes out to those whose children were in the ICU.” She added: “It is my belief drinking raw milk, mostly OPDC, was the reason he didn’t have a more serious reaction to the bacteria. I have and will continue to use your product when it is available again.”

McAfee said he doesn’t know the other four families affected, but hopes they will post on OPDC’s Facebook page or otherwise alert him of their identities. “As a family owned company, my wife and I would like to reach out to the families of these affected loved ones.  Our heart goes out to them for a speedy recovery.”

McAfee also said he hopes to have results tomorrow of environmental tests conducted on OPDC facilities by public health and CDFA personnel today. Of the regulators, McAfee added, “Everyone has treated us with respect. We have dedicated ourselves to find out fully what has happened.”

He added that OPDC is having manure tests carried out on all his dairy’s 400 cows.

Today’s incident, of course, brings to mind a similar set of circumstances in September 2006, when six children were allegedly sickened by E.coli O157:H7 in OPDC milk. Two of the children were hospitalized at that time, as well, with serious illnesses.

One thing that seems to be different this time around is McAfee’s reaction. In 2006, he expressed strong denials about the likely connection to OPDC, and the incident became a source of long-standing controversy. This time, he seems determined to be cooperative and get to the bottom of any problems.

“We don’t guarantee perfection,” he said. “We aren’t going to shudder from responsibility.”

Recalls never come at a good time, but this one seems especially awkward, coming as it does just as McAfee was in the process of launching the Raw Milk Institute (RAWMI), which is geared toward promoting raw milk safety and research.

In the meantime, comments on the OPDC Facebook page suggest not even a little bit of fright among customers over the outbreak. Rather, there seems a combination of concern about those sickened, and worry about where customers will get their raw milk during the recall. Sarah Romanov said, “So sad about this! Praying it gets resolved soon so we can get more of your delicious milk…my daughter (18 months) drinks it every day! Not sure what I’m going to give her in the meantime…maybe coconut milk?

And Crystal Bauman: “We are sad to hear that, and had an order in for 4 half gallons to pick up tomorrow at our local co-op. We will be buying it as soon as it is available and hope this gets cleared up soon. We love raw milk and are grateful that you supply it.”

Some seemed in denial. Elaine Mudrick Tom stated: “So, I’m assuming that if I go to the store tomorrow to stock up, that’s it’s already recalled. I pray for those sick children for whatever DID make them sick, but it wasn’t OPDC.”

McAfee said he hopes to have raw dairy products back on the market “in seven days.”

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53 Comments on "Organic Pastures in Raw Dairy Recall After 5 Children Sickened, 3 Hospitalized, by E.Coli O157:H7; Customers Express Support, As OPDC Appeals"

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Gordon Watson
November 16, 2011 11:35 am

something very, very fishy going on here … govt. authorities waiting up to 3 months ( in some purported cases) to raise an alarm? I don't believe it
More likely than any other explanation is = sabotage

Gwen elderberry
November 16, 2011 11:58 am

I'm sorry to hear this. It is plausible that all 5 children were concurrently exposed by something else, but health authorities are not going to take that risk.

Sylvia Gibson
November 16, 2011 12:10 pm

"infected, from August through October, " Why are we just now hearing about it? Why only 5 kids ill? And spread out so far apart in California? It would seem that more would be ill over that long a time frame if the milk was contaminated.

"epidemiologic data collected by the California Department of Public Health link the illnesses with Organic Pastures raw milk. "

Why have they not stated what that data is? Being vague does not encourage trust.

Bryan - oz4caster
November 16, 2011 12:14 pm

I'd like to know how many children had Ecoli 0157:H7 in California during that three month period. Were these the only ones? Were any other people infected? Even if there were no other infections, epidemiological evidence can never prove cause and effect by itself. I believe direct evidence must be found in product or on the farm to provide a convincing connection.

Mary Martin
November 16, 2011 1:10 pm

So sad for all.

Mark McAfee
November 16, 2011 1:23 pm


Thank you for the post. Our Press Release pretty much covers the facts as we know them. I find one particular FB post and statement from a mom of a sickened child fascinating. She said "Mostly OPDC" what does that mean??? Was there other raw milk consumed? When 75000 people consume raw milk from OPDC each week and a couple of people get sick, it is essential to know if it is OPDC or not. CDFA and others can not confirm this for us. Remember that this series of five illnesses occurred randomly over the state… Read more »

Kristen Papac
November 16, 2011 2:29 pm

@Nourish yourself,

"In the following days, four additional cases of E. coli O157:H7 were identified. All of the additional cases had consumed raw milk or raw cow colostrum sold by Organic Pastures. Isolates of the E. coli O157:H7 cultured from the five culture-positive patients had indistinguishable genetic fingerprints as determined by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) testing. These PFGE patterns were new to the national PulseNet database. In other words, the pattern associated with all of these children was unique, and had not been seen before in conjunction with any other outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7. In addition, the PFGE… Read more »

Dave Milano
November 16, 2011 6:28 pm

Michael and all,

Attacks on Mark aside, there are very legitimate concerns about RAWMI.

I find it helpful when considering such things to start by stepping back and taking a good long look at history, which for milk is happily about as long as our historical record. What do we see there? One very important foundational element bubbles up immediately: Man has lived healthfully with milk for the vast majority of his existence.

So naturally then the question arises, Why have we decided, during this most tiny sliver of human history, that the new inventions of third-party certifications, laboratories, and the assiduous… Read more »

Ken Conrad
November 16, 2011 9:21 pm

Dave, Very well said.

I to am one who believes that, we will not, in fact cannot, correct our many health problems without first returning our residential landscapes into the diversified, farm-integrated, non-chemical dependent entities that we once enjoyed.

It would indeed be interesting to know how many children/people had Ecoli 0157:H7 in California during that three month period.
When one considers the ambiguity surrounding epidemiological results, regulators can get away with accusing anyone of anything despite the presence of actual evidence.

It is indeed sad this world which we have or has been concocted for us all. As… Read more »

Gail Houze
November 16, 2011 10:51 pm

The ill children and their families are in my prayers. I know how awful it is to watch one's child suffer.
I did want to pass on something that I learned recently, for what it's worth. I was talking to another mom at soccer a few weeks ago and she mentioned that her daughter had contracted E. coli at a family reunion (I don't know what strain). The health department said that they may never find the source of infection. They did say that while it may have been food consumed at the reunion, the infection… Read more »

The Complete Patient
November 17, 2011 12:01 am

Kristen Papec,
The mother of the sick child who was thankful her child was only mildly ill apparently feels the situation could have been a lot worse if the child hadn't built up immunity to E.coli O157:H7 from having consumed lots of raw milk in the past That's an assumption we'll probably not be able to answer for certain. There has been discussion here in the past that children who have never consumed raw milk seem to be at higher risk of getting sick if there are pathogens in the milk. The two children who became most seriously ill… Read more »

Kristen Papac
November 17, 2011 1:10 am


Thank you for taking the time to write that informative response. Very interesting indeed.

It seems we won't know a lot about this specific outbreak for at least a few years, right? In the 2006 incident, the CDC didn't release it's report until 2009, am I correct?

Yes, we need more reliable science based answers. You and I are in agreement on that point!


Ron Klein
November 17, 2011 3:05 am

The issues of microbial infection and host protection may be even more complicated.

In the October 14 issue of Science there is a well done report and review of trecent research identifying a lectin like molecule secreted in the gut that has antimicrobial activity. The molecule was found within the mucosal lining of the intestine. The investigators speculate that there may be many more similar molecules secreted by the host that are an important line of defense against microbial infection/invasion through the lining of the GI tract. The authors suggest the antibacterial function may be critical for its role… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
November 17, 2011 5:11 am

Interviews with the families indicate that the only common reported food exposure is unpasteurized (raw) milk from Organic Pastures dairy."

Per the press release, the families are stating the milk was from OP. I still don't understand why only 5 became ill in an 8 week period and spread over such a large area, when so many consume the product? Why no e-coli found on the property?

"Samples of the milk actually consumed by the children also didn't reveal E.coli. "

Then how can they blame OP?

The lack of information… Read more »

Luke Timmons
November 17, 2011 5:21 am

For any other food (EXCEPT RAW MILK), authorities actually test and prove that the product in question is/was contaminated with the matching strain (i.e. hazelnuts, spinach, etc.) before accusing farmers and removing their products from the shelves. With an average of about 250 cases of E. Coli 0157:H7 in California each year, the 5 infected children mentioned here would be part of over 60 cases during the same 3-month period. Authorities are being deceitful in stating that 100% of the 5 infected children drank OPDC milk – as if these children were the only cases over the… Read more »

Milky Way
November 17, 2011 5:43 am


Take a look at the epidemic curve and timeline of this national outbreak (a product with a much wider distribution compared with OPDC).

Do you think they "lynched" the company too late, too early or just right?


Mary Martin
November 17, 2011 5:45 am

This is what the News Release states: While laboratory samples of Organic Pastures raw milk have not detected E. coli 0157:H7 contamination, epidemiologic data collected by the California Department of Public Health link the illnesses with Organic Pastures raw milk.

It does not state that they were samples taken from what the children consumed. It could have been samples taken from milk sold on the shelves.

Mary Martin
November 17, 2011 5:49 am

I posted this a yesterday on the last thread and it may not have been read. I really do know a lot about all of this if anyone has questions.

I would like to address the question as to what took so long to connect the kids to each other. Unlike the 2006 outbreak, this outbreak seems to be more ongoing. The common food consumed did not contaminate the children in the same timeframe. For example, when the first child became ill in August, the E.coi 0157:H7 blueprint gets recorded in the database and is sent to the CDCs… Read more »

Mary Martin
November 17, 2011 6:08 am

Here is the testing for 2011 posted on the OPDC website

I count 8 recording for August, September and October. Maybe the later dates arent recorded yet, so lets say he tested 4 times in October and 2 times in November. That is 12 times plus the states monthly testing. That would be a total of 16 times he tested his milk.

If you add up all the days in August, September October and 15 in November, that is a total of 107 days. Between the state and Mark, the… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
November 17, 2011 6:08 am

"The California Department of Food and Agriculture announced the recall and quarantine on Tuesday. It said laboratory samples of Organic Pastures raw milk had not detected the strain of E. coli that sickened the children. Samples of the milk actually consumed by the children also didn't reveal E.coli. "

MSNBC was stating what CDFA said to them.

Mary Martin
November 17, 2011 6:16 am

That is an interesting theory about the cow shares.

I would assume that most cow shares are very small, local operations and that you have to be a member of a cow share to have access to the milk. But somehow all 5 ill children sprinkled throughout Northern, Central and Southern California all drank raw milk from the same cow share program and also happened to drink OPDC milk.

Sounds like a stretch. It is the beginning of the war facts. I know this game well.

Mary Martin
November 17, 2011 7:07 am

The tricky thing about testing the milk the actual child or children drank is that we dont know the details. When the word children is used, we assume there was more than one bottle tested. Or were there siblings who became ill and the word children is used and there was one bottle tested.

If you drink milk daily and have a few children, it disappears quickly. It took Chris 4 days to start the diarrhea and then it takes another 3 days to get testing back on a fecal sample. You are now at… Read more »

Amanda Rose
November 17, 2011 7:32 am

Those herd shares obviously need to be stopped. They have some nerve infecting the OPDC customer base.

Mom to Boys
November 17, 2011 7:48 am

I thought I left this behind in Wisconsin. I waltzed in to my neighborhood store in California this morning when I found out there wouldn't be any milk for a while. The dairy guy said they hadn't found anything wrong with the milk, but it's still being recalled??? Did DATCP follow me to California???

When there was an outbreak in Wisconsin, our familly was called by the health department as we just returned from a vacation in Michigan where my husband and kids were sick with campylobacter from eating lunchmeat. The nurse kept asking if we… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
November 17, 2011 8:51 am

According to the Washington Post "Samples of the milk actually consumed by the children also didnt reveal E.coli." It doesn't say when the samples were taken…. I've no doubt that if they were positive, the govt would be shouting very loudly.

Violet Willis
November 17, 2011 10:14 am

I agree with Sylvia's posts that we cannot confirm that Mark's milk is the culprit here . . .

BUT . . .Manure samples that were taken a few days ago . . . what do they reveal?

Mark must have known about this investigation a few weeks ago . . . before he went to the WAP Convention . . .

Mark . . . How many of your Organic cows went to the butcher between August and November?

Perhaps one of those carcasses hold's the answer to this question . . .

Kind regards,


Mark McAfee
November 17, 2011 10:40 am

Lets have a little poll. I need a jury!?

Mary Martins voice was all over our local Channel 30 news today with her 2006 story of Ecoli illness and she even shared a picture of her son on a ventilator. Horrible shot and very scary for anyone to view.

The insurance settlement ( which can not be shared according to stipulated terms ) has specific langauge about settlement and peace among the parties. I will not state the exact terms becuase I respect the terms and conditions.

Marys manure speading was done in the name of, AKA Bill Marlers… Read more »

Violet Willis
November 17, 2011 10:47 am

So, Mark in the spirit of RAWMI transparency . . . please answer my question. . . . how many of your organic milking cows went to the butcher between August and November?

Kind regards,


Mary Martin
November 17, 2011 10:55 am

Mark, youre using war facts again. You know the mediation agreement is about discussing the amount of the settlement.

Im sure you were a bit surprised to see me show up at your press release. You forgot the link.

Bill Marler
November 17, 2011 10:59 am

Wow, I seem to be living in a loop between 2006 and 2011. How can I get off this merry-go-round?

Mark, you wanted me to be one of your chief funders for RAWMI and now you are threatening to sue me? Good grief.

Mark, share the link with the offensive news report? Mary did not breach the settlement agreement at all. You need to focus on the issues at hand – five kids sick with three with HUS.

If you want to sue Mary, do it. I would be honored to defend her.

Alice Riccabona
November 17, 2011 11:28 am

@Mary Martin & Bill Marler,

You might not be able to discuss the terms of the settlement, but a quick web search can give an idea of what you were asking in terms of damages and potential future lost income (it's over 7.5 million dollars by my count).

If any of you are following this dead horse, I encourage you to read the document about the case that is easily found online:

Mark, stand strong. I might not agree with everything you do or say, but I do not believe for a second that your milk sickened the… Read more »

Mark McAfee
November 17, 2011 11:48 am


Redo your math….it is 75,000 per week ( not 7500 ) from 425 stores in CA. And…nearly every cap date ( 18 cap dates ) for 8 weeks were tested and all that were tested were negative for ecoli from August to mid October….yet about every third cap date made one out of 75,000 sick. ??????? CDFA will not tell us what which cap dates were considered in their recall. They do not know.

How about this math….it was about one in 225,000 people that drank raw milk…becuase it was every third cap date that supposedly sickened some… Read more »

Bill Marler
November 17, 2011 1:04 pm

I have been keeping track – closely – of milk and cheese – pasteurized or not – outbreaks since 1-2010 – just to stay current. See this post with a handy dandy downloadable chart – with references:—outbreaks-in-the-last-two-years/

Any corrections, subtractions or additions would be greatly appreciated.

Around and around we go.

Sylvia Gibson
November 17, 2011 1:09 pm

So when will the govt complete the tests and have the conclusive results? I am sure the govt will be factual-correct? Or will they only be speculating again?

BTW: motrin has a notorious side effect of GI bleed. Not something I'd give to someone with any type of GI issues.

Mark McAfee
November 17, 2011 2:21 pm

Around about Christmas time,well after OPDC is back on shelves and all the agency nerves and consumer nerves are half settled, I will share the details of this event. Until then I want to keep the peace with everyone involved as we cooperate and get our work done. Trust me…..there are are some great and juicy pro OPDC details that can not be shared openly at this time.

In answer to the question of timing of our return to shelves, after high dairy scores all year long and zero pathogens and compliant bacteria counts….CDFA handed us a Notice… Read more »

Gwen elderberry
November 17, 2011 2:46 pm

I've been away from this blog for quite some time. The report of the outbreak drew me back, and I am not surprised to find the same unscientific nastiness from the same people. The viciousness of attacks prior to studies being completed or public reports is really unwarranted. Should it be found that Organic Pastures is innocent, you must know, Bill Marler, that you and your clients would most certainly be guilty of slander. I understand their being upset with Mark McAfee, but all is really not justified in love and war.

The final word is far from said on… Read more »

Marietta Pellicano
November 17, 2011 3:27 pm

Alice…I stand with you…the truth will set Mark free.
Gwen…your link to HUS prone children of professionals made my evening! I have read articles as far back as the early '70's regarding immunity of children of this societal status! The "bacteria phobes" of this class in society just can't allow for their children to 'eat a little dirt.' And it's a fact that they don't pay enough attention to their children's nutrition. 'Convenience' is the kitchen god of worship these days, so I don't think it's just the children of professionals who are nutritionally neglected, but most children of working/overly… Read more »

Alice Riccabona
November 17, 2011 7:34 pm


You are right – my math is off based upon wrong estimates. If 75000 drink your milk over a 12 week period, that's 900,000 possible exposures of which only 5 people are sick — that is .000005%. The point is that with such a high population drinking your milk that if, in fact, the milk contained pathogens, I would expect a much higher number of illnesses.

I am very interested to hear more about the facts of the case when you are able to release them. Good luck with your renovations!

Sylvia Gibson
November 17, 2011 10:17 pm

"CDFA handed us a Notice of Violation today with 14 things we need to correct prior to reinstatement…last week we were operating just fine. "

Sounds like what the govt has done to other dairies…Why are these changes needed now when last week all was fine?

I guess none of those children ate hamburger meat.

School was in session, doesn't food come from a common entity. Ca schools in the past fed the kids tainted foods.,0,4428760.story?page=2

Gwen elderberry
November 17, 2011 10:47 pm

Ron, do you have the title of that article about the lectin-like molecule, or a page number?

Most labs in hospitals do not routinely test for E-coli 0157:H7. A doctor has to order the test. A culture may take 3 days, but there are faster tests being developed (embase enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay, for example), though they are expensive, and the U.S. standard is probably still the culture. Is there a different policy in California? Are the local hospitals targeting O.P. by asking families if their children drink raw milk when they present with diarrhea, and then doctors testing their… Read more »

Karen Selick
November 17, 2011 11:01 pm

I wonder whether the health authorities in this case are aware of the scientific study showing that the shiga toxins produced by e.coli O157:H7 can survive normal pasteurization methods. Here's the link: Even though the heat treatment kills the bacteria, it does not inactivate the toxin. So the authorities may be overlooking some COOKED food that those children ate in common, on the assumption that if it was cooked it couldn't be the culprit.

Karen Selick
November 17, 2011 11:09 pm

Is anybody reading this blog well informed about the use of activated charcoal in the home?

How much harm could be prevented if people kept food-grade activated charcoal in their medicine cabinets and administered it to themselves or their kids as soon as diarrhea struck?

With millions of North Americans suffering from at least one episode of foodborne illness every year, there is nowhere near enough focus on what people can do for themselves to ameliorate a bad situation.

Activated charcoal adsorbs the toxins in the digestive tract. This can prevent them from doing further damage until they are eliminated… Read more »

D Smith
November 18, 2011 12:05 am

It never fails to amaze, and disgust, me when people will drive right up to a Taco Bell and order food they know nothing about (in terms of where it came from and/or what's really in it) but they will blast fresh milk to kingdom come before all the facts are in. So if people ate Taco Bell (just used as a for-instance here) and consumed raw milk on the same day, they automatically blame the milk.

Sounds exactly like something the FDA and all the other alphabet soup agencies will jump to, immediately if not sooner.… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
November 18, 2011 1:53 am


I have only given activated charcoal through an NG tube (tube up nose into stomach-gastric lavage) for drug overdoses in an emergency room. Sometimes the results bring new meaning to projectile vomiting. It can also cause constipation and/or an intestinal blockage, something you don't want to happen.

Do people really read the package inserts that come with drugs? If it isn't on TV or their MD hasn't told them about various drugs, then people have little knowledge of them and their use.

D Smith
November 18, 2011 2:25 am

Sylvia, charcoal can also be used externally to draw things out of the body. It works very well that way, quickly too, and is much less likely to produce a "side-effect". I've used it for everything from drawing out teeny tiny slivers to drawing the head out of a boil. My DH is a retired EMT/firefighter and he knows hundreds of external uses for charcoal. Up the nose doesn't sound appealing at all!

Sylvia Gibson
November 18, 2011 2:44 am

D.Smith, I'll add that to my list of things to remember. I learn something every day. Sticking tubes up noses isn't a fun nursing task! Haven't worked in an ED for over 15 yrs. and seemed to insert less and less NG tubes over the last 5 or so years on the med-surg floors…I'll take my geriatrics any day!

Nourish Yourself
November 18, 2011 3:38 am

Alice I agree with you!
D. Smith good point about Taco Bell etc.
Sad that thousands of people are killed by pharmaceutical drugs every year and vaccines, damaged by them, people made sick and killed by pasteurized junk milk and CAFO meats and all the other CRAP allowed by the establishment in our foods (I should say PHOOD as most of the chemicals allowed in them are processed, packaged phoods) and not much press about it all!!

I am not a huge believer in "science" – people lie and can make things look the way they want them to look. Much… Read more »

D Smith
November 20, 2011 5:42 am

@ Nourish Yourself said: "I am not a huge believer in "science" – people lie and can make things look the way they want them to look. Much corruption everywhere anymore especially by those in government and funded by the giant corporations that want to make things look the way they want."

I agree. I'm not a huge fan of science either, and they do tend to find whatever target they're focused on, in this case raw milk. Usually the focus has to do with dollar signs, most especially when the FDA is involved. A rattlesnake could… Read more »

Gordon Watson
November 20, 2011 6:13 am

all that's happened so far in the allegations against Organic Pastures, is the same old fable, writ large, published by people who are obviously in the thrall of industrialized ag. Mark McAffee took on the gods, and the gods took him on. Forget the notion of "fair play"

until and unless some real evidence is produced, then whatever is being bruited-about is nothing but anonymous triple hearsay : as one wise old judge put it "the nature of evidence is that it can be tested. If it can't be tested, it isn't evidence."

my ten years'… Read more »