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Cozy Vale Creamery Raw Milk Recall Announced, Potentially Contaminated with E. coli

Posted in E. coli,Our Blog,Outbreaks & Recalls on March 15, 2024

Select dates of Cozy Vale Creamery raw milk and cream products are being voluntarily recalled due to potential contamination with the harmful bacterium, Escherichia coli (E. coli).

Here’s what we know about this Cozy Vale Creamery raw milk recall announcement.

Cozy Vale Creamery Raw Milk Recall

The Cozy Vale Creamery raw milk recall was announced through the Washington State Department of Agriculture and includes all packages of raw milk and cream products with best by dates between 2/18/24 and 2/29/24.

These products come bottled in gallon, half-gallon, quart, and pint containers. Recalled products were sold to consumers as well as retail stores in Western Washington.

Recalled products include gallon, half-gallon, quart, and pint containers of raw milk and cream products with Best By Dates of 02/18/24 through 02/29/24

According to the recall announcement, no other production dates are impacted by this notice.

So far, there have been no known illnesses reported in connection with the recalled products.

What is the Reason for the Cozy Vale Creamery Raw Milk Recall Announcement?

The voluntary recall for Cozy Vale Creamery raw milk and cream products was issued following routine Washington State Department of Agriculture sampling activities.

Dairy products from the Tenino, Washington creamery obtained from retail raw whole milk marked February 5, 2024 were screened for typical foodborne pathogens per state sampling protocols. Testing revealed the presence of a toxin-producing E. coli bacteria in the raw whole milk.

The creamery issued a voluntary recall and is cooperating with the Washington State Department of Agriculture to determine the source of the problem.

What is Raw Milk? Isn’t All Milk Raw?

The “raw” in raw milk isn’t exactly the same as the “raw” in raw chicken or raw seafood. In a sense, it does mean that it isn’t heated or cooked, but it is more than that.

Raw milk goes straight from the cow and into a container with no bacteria killing steps in between. It doesn’t undergo a process called pasteurization that makes it safe for consumption.

This means that the milk may contain harmful bacteria, such as Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, Listeria, Brucella, Salmonella, or the reason for the Cozy Vale Creamery raw milk recall announcement, E. coli.

What is Pasteurization?

Pasteurization is the process of heating milk to temperatures high enough and for a long enough period to kill harmful germs.

There are proven variations in these methods. Some heat to a higher temperature for a shorter time. Others heat at a lower temperature for a longer time – sometimes referred to as low temp pasteurization.

Unfortunately, milk wasn’t always pasteurized. As a result, millions of people became sick and died of scarlet fever, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, and other diseases that were spread through raw milk consumption.

Routine pasteurization started in the United States in the 1920’s as a way to reduce contamination and subsequent human illnesses. By the 1950’s it became more widespread. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “most public health professionals and health care providers consider pasteurization to be one of public health’s most effective food safety inventions ever.”

How Does Raw Milk Become Contaminated?

It is unclear the source of contamination responsible for the Cozy Vale Creamery raw milk recall announcement, however there are many ways that harmful germs can get into milk.

E. coli lives in the digestive system of humans and animals. Most of the E. coli bacterial strains are a harmless part of how foods are processed in the body. Many harmful strains of bacteria, however, can also live in the digestive system of animals with no outward signs of illness.

Unfortunately, these harmful bacteria end up in the poop; and that is primarily how it is spread.

Despite a farms efforts to keep things sanitary, even trace or microscopic amounts of poop can carry harmful bacteria in infectious numbers. The item may appear clean, but it could still be covered in bacteria. Enough bacteria to make a person sick.

Common ways raw milk can become contaminated include:

  • Germs from an animal’s poop gets in the milk
  • Germs from an animal’s skin gets in the milk
  • Germs in the environment, such as the barn and/or milking equipment gets into the milk
  • The animal’s udder can be infected
  • The dairy animal may have a disease communicable to humans, such as bovine tuberculosis
  • Pests (insects, rodents, or other small animals) can get into the milk
  • Unsanitary conditions at the milk processing plant
  • Cross-contamination from dairy workers (such as contact with dirty clothing or boots)

These are just a few examples of how harmful germs can contaminate raw milk. There are countless other ways.

Who Is Most Likely to Get Really Sick?

Anyone of any age can become sick from consuming raw milk. Even a healthy immune system can be vulnerable to foodborne illness. However, some people are at greater risk of becoming sick after exposure and experiencing more serious illness as a result.

Those at greater risk include:

  • Adults 65 years and older
  • Children 5 years and younger
  • Those with a weakened immune system

If raw milk is contaminated. Anyone can become sick.

What are the Symptoms?

The announcement mentions a “toxin-producing” E. coli bacteria, however the exact strain was not indicated. Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) infections may present symptoms that vary in combination and intensity from person to person. However, most people experience diarrhea (often bloody), vomiting, and severe stomach cramps.

Some people may experience a low-grade fever (less than 101 °F).

Some cases may be mild, while other can be severe or even life-threatening.

People usually start feeling sick around 3 to 4 days after eating or drinking something contaminated with the E. coli bacteria and begin feeling better after about a week (5 to 7 days).

Most people recover on their own without medical intervention or antibiotic treatment, however some infections require medical assistance.

Contact your healthcare provider if you have:

  • diarrhea lasting more than 3 days
  • diarrhea accompanied by a fever higher than 102 °F
  • bloody diarrhea
  • vomiting so much you cannot keep liquids down and you pass very little urine

In some cases, a life-threatening complication, known as hemolytic uremic syndrome, can develop.

Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome

Hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, develops in about 5 to 10% of people diagnosed with STEC infections. Symptoms often begin about 7 days after initial STEC symptoms start, usually as diarrheal symptoms are improving.

HUS is a type of kidney complication caused by STEC infections that prevents the organ from working properly and can result in kidney failure.

Common signs of HUS include:

  • decreased frequency of urination
  • feeling very tired
  • paleness in cheeks and inside lower eyelids

Without treatment, HUS can be fatal. Even with treatment, HUS requires hospitalization, and some people may suffer permanent damage or die.

Have You Become Sick from Cozy Vale Creamery Raw Milk Products?

If you have become sick after eating products included in the Cozy Vale Creamery raw milk recall announcement, you may have a legal case. The experienced E. coli lawyers at The Lange Law Firm, PLLC are committed to holding responsible those whose negligence has caused harm to others. If you have become sick from eating Cozy Vale Creamery raw milk products, reach out to The Lange Law Firm today by calling (833) 330-3663 or click here to fill out an online form.

By: Heather Van Tassell (contributing writer, non-lawyer)