Four people have fallen ill in Minnesota after drinking unpasteurized milk contaminated with E. coli, including an infant who is in critical condition.
State and federal health officials are warning people not to drink unpasteurized milk from Hartmann Dairy Farm in Gibbon, Minnesota, also known as Minnesota Organic Milk (M.O.M.) after four cases of food poisoning from E. coli contamination were linked to the company’s dairy products.
Unpasteurized milk, also known as raw milk, has become an increasing health trend due to the belief that there are additional health benefits. However, raw milk has not been treated to kill organisms such as E. coli and Salmonella.
Sale of raw milk is only allowed in 20 states, and it is illegal to sell across state lines. Minnesota only allows the sale of raw milk directly from the farm where it was produced.
The Hartmann milk recall was extended to all of the company’s dairy products last week by officials from the state health department, who warned consumers to discard any Hartmann dairy product, including cheese and ice cream. Since it was only sold directly from the farm, there is no product to remove from store shelves.
State officials say all four victims of the food poisoning outbreak suffered from the E. coli o157:H7 bacterial strain.
E. coli O157:H7 is one of the more common causes of food poisoning in the United States. When left untreated, it can lead to dehydration and potentially life-threatening illness. While most healthy adults recover from food poisoning caused by E. coli within a few weeks, young children and the elderly could be at risk for more severe illness. If the toxin enters the blood stream, E. coli could also lead to kidney failure known as Hemolytic-Urenia Syndrome (HUS).
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that there are about 76 million cases of food-related illnesses reported every year, with more than 300,000 people hospitalized and 5,000 deaths.