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E. coli outbreak linked to raw cheese from Fresno dairy. Product recall issued by CDC

The Fresno Bee - 2/26/2024

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a food safety alert for certain cheese produced by Fresno-based Raw Farm.

The cheddar cheese — sold in blocks and shredded packages across the country — is linked to an outbreak of E. coli that has sicked 10 people across four states so far. Four people have been hospitalized with one at risk of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.

The number of people affected by the outbreak is likely much higher, the CDC said, because the process for linking a particular illness to a particular outbreak can take three to four weeks. Also, many people recover without seeing a doctor or being tested for the bacteria.

Escherichia coli, E. coli for short, causes severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (sometimes, with blood) and vomiting. Fever, typically, under 101 degrees can be associated with the illness. Most people recover within a week.

An investigation is ongoing, but Raw Farm has initiated a recall and is working with the FDA to remove the products from the market. Businesses should not sell or serve the cheese from the dairy and all packages should be thrown away or returned. Items and surfaces that may have touched the cheese should be washed with hot soapy water or in a dishwasher.

Salmonella outbreak also linked to Raw Farm

In October, Raw Farm was hit with a state recall after its whole milk and heavy cream products were linked to nearly 20 cases of salmonella. In that outbreak, at least three children were hospitalized.

Raw Farm has been operating since 1998 and describes its products as “unprocessed and complete with bioavailable vitamins, minerals, enzymes, beneficial bacteria, naturally occurring CLA, and omega-3 fatty acids,” and says it is free of antibiotics, synthetic hormones or GMOs.

According to the CDC, raw or unpasteurized milk is one of the riskiest foods to consume. There were 75 outbreaks linked to raw milk from 2013 through 2018.

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