Hartmann Dairy Farm, Gibbon, Minn., has been embargoed from selling dairy products following confirmation that E. coli bacteria in raw milk that sickened five people came from the farm. The embargo prohibits movement or release of products off the farm.
Four cases of illness were reported last week, and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) reported this afternoon that a fifth case has been subsequently confirmed in a young child who was not hospitalized. One toddler, who had been hospitalized for over a week, was released yesterday.
The specific strain of E. coli 0157:H7 found in the ill patients has also been found in three animals and from five environmental sites on the Hartman farm, says Michael Schommer, MDA director of communications. The strain of E. coli has not previously been found in Minnesota. In addition, cheese samples collected from the farm last week contained another form of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli.
"Raw milk presents a serious health threat,” says Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Sanne Magnan. "This isn't a matter of personal opinion; it's an established scientific fact. Drinking raw milk or eating products made from raw milk can expose consumers to a variety of organisms that can result in anything from a few days of diarrhea to kidney failure and death. Raw milk is especially dangerous for children, whose immune systems can't fight off infection as well as healthy adults.”
Nicole Neeser, with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, says the investigation of the Hartmann Farm is on-going. She therefore could not say whether criminal charges or civil action will be brought against the farm, but she did not rule out that possibility.