Dungeness Valley Creamery’s raw milk from its Jersey cows is back on store shelves after nearly two weeks of a voluntary recall.
Staff with the Washington State Department of Agriculture gave an all clear for current samples of milk on April 22, after E. coli STEC was found in two separate samples from late March, early April.
Creamery co-owner Ryan McCarthey said they began pulling their milk products from shelves on April 9 with an expiration between April 6-20. Current “all clear” creamery milk products have an expiration of April 30.
“We did everything we can on the sanitation side from milk handling to cow milking,” McCarthey said.
That included deep cleaning all of their equipment and their bottling plant, milk parlor and barn, and further inspecting their cows.
Ryan and Sarah McCarthey sent samples from the recalled batch and a newer batch of samples to a third party food inspection company and learned on April 20 that the new batch was clear of E. coli.
“We wanted some piece of mind,” McCarthey said.
“After our remediation cleaning, we wanted to see if they can detect anything.”
On Facebook, the couple said they believe they “isolated the actual problem to a failed rubber gasket inside a milk pump.”
To further their cleaning effort, the McCartheys also announced they plan to test milk of each of their 60-plus Jersey cows to learn more about their health.
A quarterly inspection was moved up to April 8 by the state and the Creamery’s barn came back with a positive rating of 100 percent for the bottling plant and 99 percent for the barn with a point taken off for some wear in concrete outside the barn, McCarthey said.
WSDA reported that no illnesses have been found related to the recalled product.
Due to state regulations, the 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.
Following the recall, the couple estimates they lost about $40,000 in sales and one supplier with two stores but “the generous contributions of our community have significantly mitigated these losses and so far will provide approximately 1,000 gallons of milk that will be donated to local food banks over the coming months.”
A GoFundMe account for the Creamery created by supporter Patti Bostwick at www.gofundme.com/life-on-a-raw-milk-dairy has raised nearly $7,000 as of April 23. The McCartheys said the fundraiser will remain active for a little while to help distribute products to local food banks at wholesale delivery pricing.
The Creamery’s raw milk is now 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.
Through the recall process, McCarthey said he feels good about uniting his staff.
“Everyone worked so hard and got cleaning. Everyone was really helpful, and we got a lot of positive support from people stopping by,” he said.
“(Overall), I think it’s going to give us an opportunity to update some things again and look at some on-farm equipment for environmental testing.”
For more information and updates on the Dungeness Valley Creamery, 1915 Towne Road, call 360-683-0716 or visit www.facebook.com/dungenessvalleycreamery.
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.