Days after visiting a petting zoo at a pumpkin patch before Halloween, Emma Heidish was in the hospital. Almost a month later, her family is grateful she will spend Thanksgiving at home.
Heidish was one of 3 people who got sick after visiting Dehn’s Pumpkins in Dayton, Minn., but while the others were able to recover at home, her case was severe.
Like many 7-year-olds, Heidish loves animals, but after what she’s endured, her opinions about her favorite farm animals have changed.
“They are the ones that made me sick!” she explained.
Within days of visiting the pumpkin patch in mid-October, stomach cramps and diarrhea landed Heidish in the intensive care unit.
For a month, the little girl fought through a form of kidney failure that required her to undergo surgery and near-constant dialysis because her digestive system basically shut down.
The family is also bracing for the bill. Even though they have health insurance, they’re not sure what a month-long stay in the ICU will cost them. Friends have organized two fundraisers to offset the coasts and have established a fund for the family.
For more information on the benefit’s and more ways that you can help visit: www.emmasfund.com
As for Dehn’s farm, the owners still aren’t sure what they’ll do with the livestock next year because E. coli can simply be in an animal’s fur or the pen they’re kept in, but the Heidish family says they just want to stress the importance of hand washing.
Three Minnesota residents have become ill with confirmed E. coli O157:H7 infections after contact with animals at Dehn’s Pumpkins in Dayton, MN, the Minnesota Department of Health reported today.
The three cases were all children, ranging in age from 15 months to 7 years and are residents of the Twin Cities metro area. One child is hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication of an E. coli infection characterized by kidney failure. The others were not hospitalized and are recovering. Routine monitoring by the health department identified the E. coli O157:H7 cases, which all have bacterial isolates with the same DNA fingerprint. These cases visited the farm on October 12 or 13, and became ill on October 16 or 18.
The Minnesota Department of Health is in the process of following up with any groups that visited the farm in order to help determine if more people have become ill. At this time, two additional people have reported symptoms consistent with E. coli O157:H7 infection and are currently being tested. These people visited Dehn’s on October 18, raising concern that exposures also could have occurred after the weekend of October 12-13.
All of the cases reported having contact with cattle and/or goats at Dehn’s. The farm owners have been cooperating fully with the investigation and public access to the cattle and goat areas is being prohibited. The rest of the farm, including the pumpkin patch, remains open for business.
A 12-year-old boy who traveled to Shenzhen on October 12 and consumed undercooked beef in a restaurant there, but described no recent consumption of unpasteurised milk or raw food, nor contact with animals or visit to farms, has been confirmed with E. coli O157:H7 according to Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Promotion
Ontario’s top doctor, Dr. Arlene King, has filled the void, and has stated that seven Ontario residents are sick with an additional suspected case.
The recall has been expanded from Compliments brand Super 8 Beef Burgers sold in packages of six in Sobeys, Sobeys Urban, Foodland, Freshco and Price Chopper stores in Ontario and Atlantic Canada to ow include President’s Choice Beef Burgers in 4.54 kilogram packages sold nationally in Loblaws banner stores and Webers Bucket of Burgers sold in 1.02 kilogram packages, which may have been distributed across Canada.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Belmont Meats Ltd. (Est.112) are warning the public not to consume certain Compliments brand Super 8 Beef Burgers described below because they may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.
This recall is the result of an ongoing food safety investigation initiated as a result of a recent outbreak investigation.
Which means, people are sick, but that’s not our department, so you may hear something eventually.
With 22 people sick and 1 dead from E. coli O157 linked to raw milk cheese produced by Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm in Salmon Arm, British Columbia, Canadian media have chosen to focus on the alleged benefits of raw milk cheese.
Citing Michael Pollan as an influence, one writer says“there is magic in traditional methods … It has been known for some time that excessive hygiene can cause more trouble than it prevents.”
Another says my cows are clean so the milk is clean, and another says “Raw milk has all the enzymes still in it and a lot of immunoglobulin in it which helps the immune system of the baby to be developed and it helps the growth factors.”
Magical food, hmmm, where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, that would be when 140 people got sick with Salmonella from sprouts on Jimmy John’s sandwiches beginning in Dec. 2010.
Shouldn’t the focus be on the sick people? And using science to evaluate risk, not magic?
“In light of such a tragedy, it’s easy to panic, and to view cheese made from unpasteurized milk — which is legal to sell in Canada — with a jaundiced eye. Ban it! Bring on irradiation! This sort of fear-based attitude is a mistake.
“Foodborne pathogens exist. They are a fact of life — always have been, always will be. But to blame, or move to eliminate, an entirefood culture, in existence for thousands of years, stimulating both the palate and the economy, would be an overreaction.”
Kevin Allen, a microbiologist at the University of British Columbia and aging hockey player, had some sensible comments, such as, “We can’t keep saying that, historically, there is a 60-day aging period. It’s not necessarily based on E. coli O157, which we didn’t recognize as a foodborne pathogen until 1982. … The longer the cheese is aged, the more inactivation you will have. But it’s hard to put an exact (time) on that. We don’t have the data.”
One solution, says Allen, is to conduct research into how long it takes for a pathogen to be rendered inactive. Or he says you could just pasteurize the milk used in the cheese, a heating process which, properly done, kills pathogens.
Well, that sounds simple enough. Heat the bejezus out of the stuff, and eliminate the worry, the risk, right?
The owner of a cheese shop says, “Anyone working with raw milk products has safety systems and precautions, and a system of vigilance against the proliferation of bad bacteria … and that is regulated at a federal and provincial level.”
And so are the bacteria-seeing goggles.
As usual, the Public Health Agency of Canada provides completely irrelevant information to this outbreak, and wants “to remind Canadians to follow proper hygiene and safe food handling and preparation practices to prevent the spread of all food-borne illness including E. coli. For example:
Wash your hands before and after cooking;
Keep knives, counters and cutting boards clean;
Keep raw meats separate from other foods when you store them; and
My friend and hockey goon Kevin Allen at the University of British Columbia makes some good points about policy after one person died and 16 others were sickened with E. coli O157:H7 via raw milk cheese in Canada.
Dr. Robert Parker, the chief medical officer for the B.C. Interior Health Authority, makes some lousy points about policy and when to go public.
According to CBC, health officials suspected an E. coli outbreak was linked to a B.C. cheese farm as early as last Friday, but waited until Tuesday to warn the public because they had to be certain of the source. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed one person has died and 10 people are ill from consuming raw milk cheese products from B.C. Gort’s Gouda has been linked to an outbreak of E. coli in B.C. and Alberta
Parker says media attention can destroy a business, and authorities wanted to be certain. He says people do not need to stop eating cheese made from raw milk, since there have not been several outbreaks. “I think if we start seeing repeated outbreaks in unpasteurized cheese products, it might be worthwhile to review again,” said Parker.
There have been endless and a disproportionately high number of outbreaks associated with raw milk cheese. Parker should know that.
Publicly available guidelines for when to go public with health information that are consistently followed by health types, would remove many conspiratorial elements.
Edmonton’s Annemarie McCrie ate at Gort’s Farm on Sept. 1 on her way back home from vacation in B.C. with a friend. “We wanted to stop and there’s a little sign that said ‘cheese farm’ – so I thought ‘oh, let’s go to the cheese farm,’ because everybody wants to visit a cheese farm.”
Kevin Allen, a University of British Columbia microbiologist, says this recall highlights the problems associated with consuming raw milk and its products. “Obviously we have a failure here,” says Allen. Allen says currently Canadian law requires raw milk cheese to be aged for 60 days in order to eliminate pathogens and make it safe, but E. coli O157 can survive well past that time and aging is not a guarantee of safety. “The problem is we have a modern-day food chain with modern-day pathogens that seem tolerant to these conditions that we use to render it safe,” says Allen. “I think it’s maybe time to look at our policy and maybe amend it.”
A Calgary cheesemaker whose family has been in the cheese business for roughly 300 years wants to see unpasteurized cheese banned in Canada.
Gouda Cheese with Jalapeno Peppers Quaso de Prato.
Smoked Gouda Cheese Quaso de Prato.
Gouda Cheese with Red Peppers, Ginger, Onions & Garlic Quaso de Prato.
Peppercorn, Ginger, Paprika, Onion & Garlic Quaso de Prato.
Parsley, Celery, Onion, Garlic, Dill & Chives Quaso de Prato.
An alert from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency states the affected products have lot codes 122 to 138 and were sold at the manufacturer’s outlet, at retail stores in Alberta and B.C, and through Internet sales from May 27 to Sept. 14, 2013, inclusive.
Some product packages may not bear a lot code or indicate that the cheese was made with raw milk, and CFIA advises consumers who are unsure if they have purchased the affected product to contact their retailer.