Three children, including one toddler, were hospitalized last week from what Oregon Public Health officials believe to be a food borne illness brought about by raw milk consumption. Today, the Oregon Public Health Department (OPHD) has confirmed that two more children under the age of 15 have contracted E. coli from the raw milk in question. Three out of the five children who were hospitalized have experienced serious, life threatening kidney failure. The milk is believed to have come from a family farm called the Foundation Farm in Wilsonville, Oregon. The farm has reportedly stopped production voluntarily.
The milk contamination has affected at least seven others who have been stricken with uncomfortable side effects like severe diarrhea but didn’t require hospitalization. The OPHD expects the number of victims to grow as they continue to investigate.
Oregon only allows the sale of raw milk under strict guidelines. Commercial farms must restrict the number of milk producing cows to two but “herd-sharing” programs such as the one used at Foundation Farm are unregulated. Herd sharing programs are cow coops in which families essentially go in on the cost and ownership of the livestock. The farm in question is small and only distributed to 48 households but the OPHD is urging any families in possession of any dairy products from this farm to forgo consumption.
According to the CDC, raw milk is one of the most vulnerable food items for contamination. The CDC highly recommends pasteurized milk as the safest form of milk.