On Thursday, November 4, 2010, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a press release announcing that the state of Maryland was conducting an investigation of a cluster of seven Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 infections that had been reported in a short time span starting on October 22, 2010.
Of those seven persons who tested positive for E. coli O157:H7, three required hospitalization with one possible case of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). DHMH was particularly concerned about the number of confirmed E. coli O157 infections that had been reported in the span of only a week or so since there are typically only 20-40 E. coli O157 cases reported throughout Maryland in the entire year.
After completing hypothesis generating questionnaires via interviews with those persons with confirmed E. coli O157:H7 infections, DHMH learned that all victims shared one common connection—they had all consumed unpasteurized apple cider from Baugher’s Orchard & Farm of Westminster, Maryland. The product was bottled in gallon and one-half gallon plastic jugs and was sold to consumers in Maryland through the farm directly and in the Gettysburg area of Pennsylvania through retail stores. Based on the investigation, DHMH linked the outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses to unpasteurized apple cider from Baugher’s Orchard & Farm.
In response to this ongoing investigation by DHMH, Baugher’s Orchard & Farm issued a voluntary recall on November 4, 2010, recalling all its apple cider product. Following the outbreak, Baugher’s announced that it will begin pasteurizing its apple cider products when production resumes.