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Raw Farm E. coli Outbreak Sickens 10

Posted in E. coli,Our Blog,Outbreaks & Recalls on February 20, 2024

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating an Escherichia coli (E. coli) outbreak that has been linked to Raw Farm, LLC. According to an update on February 16, 2024, the product under investigation is Raw Farm brand, Raw Cheddar Cheese. In response to this Raw Farm E. coli outbreak investigation, the firm has issued a recall for certain block and shredded cheese varieties.

Raw Farm E. coli Outbreak

Here’s What We Know About the Outbreak

So far there have been 10 illnesses linked to the outbreak. At least 4 have been hospitalized, with one developing a type of kidney complication known as hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS. There have been no deaths linked to this outbreak so far.

Cases have been reported in 4 states, including California, Colorado, Texas, and Utah, with California having the largest case count at this time.

People began falling ill between October 18, 2023 and January 29, 2024.

Often times cases go undiagnosed because many normally healthy individuals recover on their own without medical intervention. Samples from those individuals are not obtained and therefore never linked to the outbreak. As a result, outbreaks are often larger than they appear.

Unfortunately, it takes a few linked cases to prompt an investigation that may be able to trace illnesses to a specific product. These traceback activities are extremely important to help remove harmful products from commerce and help prevent future illnesses in those who may not be so lucky to recover on their own.

Genetic Data from Sick Patient Samples Indicates E. coli Outbreak

Outbreak patient cases have been linked using a DNA fingerprinting technology known as whole genome sequencing (WGS). When a patient becomes sick with an acute diarrheal illness that appears to be foodborne, their sample data is uploaded into a national database called PulseNet.

The genetic data obtained from sick people’s samples indicated that they were genetically closely related. This suggests to investigators that the people in this outbreak became sick from consuming the same food.

Then they move on to the next logical question.

What food?

Investigators Interviewed Those Involved in the Outbreak

During the course of an outbreak investigation, those involved in the outbreak are asked certain questions to help point to a specific product that could be the culprit. In this case, 8 of the 10 people involved in the outbreak were available for interview so far.

Of the 8 interviewed, 6 people reported eating Raw Farm brand raw cheddar cheeses.

This is very specific.

Investigators compare this data to another tool at their disposal. The FoodNet Population Survey.

Interview Data Was Compared to FoodNet Population Survey

The FoodNet Population Survey is a periodic survey that randomly selects residents in the surveillance area to discuss acute diarrheal illness.

The survey asks about if they have had acute diarrheal illness recently and how often they get it. The survey also asks how often they sought care for treating the illness and how often they are exposed to foods that are linked to diarrheal illness.

A wide range of ages and demographics are included in the survey.

In this case, a 75% response of eating Raw Farm brand raw cheddar cheese is significant when compared to the 4.9% of respondents who indicated eating any raw milk cheese in the FoodNet Population Survey.

This data suggests that the people involved in this E. coli outbreak got sick from eating Raw Farm brand raw cheddar cheese.

In response to these findings, Raw Farm LLC issued a recall and is currently working with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure potentially harmful food is removed from the marketplace.

Raw Farm Brand Cheddar Cheese Recalled Due to E. coli Outbreak

According to Raw Farm, LLC, the firm was contacted on February 15, 2024, by the FDA and CDC in response to the interview data from sick people linked to the outbreak. The firm is cooperating and collaborating with agencies to recall certain batches of products and conducted testing on their products.

The recall includes cheese blocks older than batch 20231113-1 and shred batches older than 20240116.

Brand Product Package Size Batch Barcode Item
RAW FARM Raw Cheddar Cheese – Pound Block 16 oz 20231113-1 or older 835204000156 1075
RAW FARM Raw Cheddar Cheese – Half Pound Block 8 oz 20131113-1 or older 835204001177 1050
RAW FARM Raw Cheddar Cheese – Half Pound Block 8 oz 20240116 835204001184 1080

According to the recall, no other products outside of these specific date codes are subject to the recall.

What is E. coli?

What exactly is E. coli, and why is it dangerous?

E. coli is a bacterium that can be found in the digestive system of humans and animals. Certain E. coli strains, such as those in the Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) category are harmful to humans.

When people ingest this bad bug, they become sick. Severity of infection can vary from person to person, ranging from mild to more severe.

Common symptoms include:

  • Severe stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea (often bloody)
  • Vomiting

Some people may also experience a fever less than 101 °F. In most cases, people begin to feel sick around 3 to 4 days after eating or drinking something contaminated with the bacteria. For many, these symptoms can persist around 5 to 7 days before feeling better.

Many people can recover on their own without medical intervention, however you should seek medical attention if you have diarrhea lasting more than 3 days and a fever above 102 °F, bloody diarrhea, or so much vomiting that you become dehydrated.

Some people may develop a serious complication known as HUS.

What is HUS?

Hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, is a type of kidney failure that develops in about 5 to 10% of those diagnosed with STEC infection. It is a potentially life-threatening complication that prevents the kidneys from working properly.

HUS symptoms include:

  • Decreased urination
  • Feeling very tired
  • Paleness in cheeks and inside lower eyelids

HUS symptoms usually begin about 7 days after initial diarrheal symptoms and begin as the original intestinal symptoms start to improve. Those experiencing HUS symptoms should see a healthcare professional right away.

While most people with HUS recover within a few weeks, some may suffer permanent damage or even die from the illness. These symptoms should be taken very seriously.

The Lange Law Firm Can Help

If you have become sick after eating Raw Farm cheddar cheese and may be a part of the Raw Farm E. coli outbreak, 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 Raw Farm cheddar cheese, 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