Fresh sample from Dungeness creamery shows no E. coli
By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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The state department Tuesday warned consumers not to drink the creamery’s raw Jersey whole milk, raw Jersey skim milk and raw Jersey cream because a cream sample taken Feb. 19 was contaminated with E. coli.
The follow-up set of samples, which showed no E. coli, was taken Monday.
Hector Castro, spokesman for the state Department of Agriculture, said the warning still applies to prior batches, which have expiration dates between March 2-8.
Any of the creamery’s products dated after March 9 are not contaminated, Castro said.
“There’s no getting around the fact that there’s always a risk in consuming raw milk,” Castro said.
“But in this case, the Dungeness Valley product no longer showed E. coli.”
Ryan and Sarah McCarthey, owners of the dairy at 1915 Towne Road, said their customers have stood behind them since the warning was issued.
“We appreciate the loyalty, support and understanding from all of our customers,” Ryan McCarthey said Wednesday. “It’s been an overwhelming show of support.”
The McCartheys have owned the Dungeness Valley Creamery for almost a year since buying it from Sarah’s parents, Jeff and Debbie Brown.
They posted a statement on the recall on www.dungenessvalleycreamery.com.
The McCartheys shut down cream production after getting the preliminary test results.
No illnesses were reported from consuming the creamery’s products, Castro said.
Tests results showed no contamination of the creamery’s whole milk and skim milk.
But Castro said the Agriculture Department included those products in Tuesday’s warning as a precaution.
Dungeness Valley Creamery is one of the state’s largest producers of raw milk, producing 275 to 300 gallons a day and employing 14 people.
“They’re certainly one of the big ones,” Castro said.
Vendors, like Elizabeth Seifert of Good to Go Natural Grocery in Port Angeles, said earlier Wednesday — before the most recent test results came in — that they would have no qualms in stocking the dairy’s products again.
“We will resume carrying it for our customers,” Seifert said.
“We have a very loyal group that really values their product.”
Steve Fuller, manager of the state department’s rapid-response program, said tests of the first sample showed E. coli bacteria only in the creamery’s cream.
After taking the samples at the creamery, testers analyzed them at the state department’s microbiology laboratory near Olympia.
The tests said E. coli could be present, so Fuller said he sent the samples for further analysis at the state Department of Health’s public health lab in Shoreline.
“Those tests showed the cream had this bacteria that produces Shiga toxin,” Fuller said.
Those toxins did not show up in the analysis of Monday’s samples.
Shiga is a toxin that can cause serious illness, with symptoms ranging from vomiting to severe diarrhea to bloody stools, Fuller said.
Anyone experiencing these symptoms is urged to contact a health-care provider.
The creamery sells raw milk products in Sequim at the Sequim Prairie Grange, Red Rooster Grocery and Sunny Farms Farm Store; in Port Angeles at Country Aire and Good to Go; and in Port Townsend at the Food Co-op. They also are sold in 11 other Washington cities.
Seifert said her customers who buy the creamery’s product value it because it is fresh, local and full of unprocessed nutrients.
“Our customers will decide,” she said.
Khy Griffin, grocery manager at the Port Townsend Food Co-op, said the business managers were made aware of the alert through press accounts Wednesday morning.
The co-op does not sell the creamery’s cream products but pulled its milk off the shelves.
“And it is super popular here,” Griffin said.
After receiving the preliminary results Friday, the McCartheys said they alerted customers who had purchased cream products from the tainted batch to pull them off the shelves.
“It was a small batch of 50 pints that we only sent out to a few of our vendors,” McCarthey said.
Because the contamination could have affected other lines, Castro said, the state department put out the warning for the creamery’s other products.
“Typically, we have the business doing their own notification and eventually doing a recall,” he said.
“But in this case, they didn’t provide us any information specific as to how that was being done.”
County health officials pulled the creamery’s product from area shelves Wednesday, McCarthey said.
In late 2009, the state Department of Agriculture and Department of Health issued a “consumer advisory” implicating the milk of the Dungeness Valley Creamery, then owned by the Browns, in E. coli infections of three people, even though no direct link had been made between the dairy and the infections.
There was no bacteria found in milk samples at that time.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: February 27. 2013 6:12PM