Rachel Moon with the Dungeness Valley Creamery bottles raw milk on June 10. A product sample found with E. coli in one milk sample was discovered on June 4 but a later sample was cleared. Creamery products weren’t on store shelves for about three days. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Rachel Moon with the Dungeness Valley Creamery bottles raw milk on June 10. A product sample found with E. coli in one milk sample was discovered on June 4 but a later sample was cleared. Creamery products weren’t on store shelves for about three days. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Creamery cleared after third sample of E. coli found in raw milk

Raw milk from Dungeness Valley Creamery is back on store shelves again after Washington State Department of Agriculture staff found Escherichia coli bacteria, E. coli, in one raw milk sample dated June 5.

Ryan McCarthey said they learned on June 4 about the sample and they notified vendors to pull their raw milk, skim milk and cream with expiration dates of June 5-14.

Three days later, state officials had tested another sample and gave the creamery approval to sell its product once again.

Sarah McCarthey said they had milk on delivery trucks on Friday, June 7, just in case they were given an all clear. By Saturday, Clallam and Jefferson County suppliers were stocked again, she said.

McCarthey said the latest results were a surprise considering their continued testing through an independent lab since April and the amount of cleaning measures they’ve taken.

“We were really confident because we had done private testing before and after,” he said.

Ryan McCarthey said other state samples with expiration dates on June 2 and 4 along with independent lab testing results of products expiring on June 7, 10, 11 and 12 were found clear of E. coli.

Previously, the creamery was given an all clear in its samples on April 22, after E. coli was found in two separate samples from late March and early April leading to an extended recall in April to what owners said cost them tens-of-thousands of dollars.

Cleanliness

During their previous recalls, Ryan McCarthey said they deep cleaned their whole facility and further inspected their cows including the additional lab testing.

This week the McCartheys begin installing more than $20,000 worth of cleaning and sanitation equipment, which Ryan McCarthey said will improve hot water temperatures for cleaning and automate more of the cleaning process.

Sarah McCarthey said they want customers to feel comfortable with them and that’s why they’ve gone to such great lengths to rectify any issues.

On the creamery’s Facebook page, she wrote, “We take any positive pathogen test very seriously regardless of any doubts we may have. Customer safety first.”

She said their independent lab results turned up negative but “we have to be diligent for public safety and look towards solving any possible contamination problems.”

In reply to another customer comment, she wrote, “I wish we could sell the milk from the dates tested clean by our independent FDA approved lab but the state won’t recognize them. We have a great reputation with our inspectors and they’ve complimented us on our facilities and cleanliness. In the mean-time, we’ve notified everyone to remove our product from their shelves until the state gives us the green light. All of this is for our customer’s safety which we take very seriously.”

Sarah and her son Wade McCarthey lead a newborn calf into a pen after it was born on June 8 during the Dungeness Valley Creamery’s 13th anniversary celebration. The farm was allowed to sell its raw milk product again on June 7 after WSDA officials reportedly found one milk sample with E. coli the previous week. A later sample was cleared and the farm’s raw milk products are back in stores. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Sarah and her son Wade McCarthey lead a newborn calf into a pen after it was born on June 8 during the Dungeness Valley Creamery’s 13th anniversary celebration. The farm was allowed to sell its raw milk product again on June 7 after WSDA officials reportedly found one milk sample with E. coli the previous week. A later sample was cleared and the farm’s raw milk products are back in stores. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Celebrate anyway

The McCartheys held their 13th anniversary celebration last Saturday commemorating the farm beginning to sell raw milk.

“We didn’t want to cancel,” Ryan McCarthey said before the event. “We think it’ll be a good chance for people to be supportive, see the farm and what we do. We’re excited to be doing it.”

Sarah McCarthey said they believe there was record attendance for the event, and there was a constant line for ice cream cones.

Legal warnings

Between the recalls, the WSDA reports that no illnesses have been found related to the recalled products.

State health officials urge customers not to drink or eat the creamery’s products from June 5-14 and return it to the place of purchase for a refund.

Consumers can call the creamery at 360-683-0716 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. with questions.

State health officials say Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infections may cause severe diarrhea, stomach cramps and bloody stool. Symptoms generally appear three-four days after exposure, but can take as long as nine days to appear. In some cases, the infection causes hemolytic uremic syndrome where red blood cells are destroyed resulting in kidney failure.

Because of to state regulations, Dungeness Valley Creamery must put warnings on each product that it’s not pasteurized and may contain harmful bacteria. Health officials also caution infants, younger children, senior citizens, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems from consuming raw milk.

The creamery’s raw milk is typically available in about 50 retail stores across Western Washington, including Nash’s Farm Store, Sunny Farms Country Store, Agnew Grocery and the creamery’s store in the Sequim area.

For more information and updates on the Dungeness Valley Creamery, 1915 Towne Road, call 360-683-0716 or visit www.facebook.com/dungeness valleycreamery.

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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