The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to consumers not to consume Organic Pastures raw cream after testing revealed the product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium that can cause food poisoning. The FDA stated in its warning:
This product, marketed by Organic Pastures Dairy Company ("Organic Pastures"), Fresno, Calif., may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause a serious and sometimes fatal disease called Listeriosis in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeriosis can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
The product was sold in retail stores throughout California and was also available worldwide via phone orders, and is not pasteurized. Pasteurization, a process that heats milk to a specific temperature for a set period of time, kills bacteria responsible for diseases such as listeriosis, salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, diphtheria and brucellosisis. The California Department of Food and Agriculture issued an order to Organic Pastures on September 7 to withdraw the raw cream from retail distribution after routine product sampling at the facility detected the bacteria. As of September 20, 2007, the California Department of Agriculture has now permitted Organic Pastures to sell and distribute raw cream within the state of California.
FDA advises consumers to throw away product labeled as "ORGANIC PASTURES Grade A RAW CREAM" with code dates "SEP 14" through "SEP 21".
It is believed that ingestion of as few as 1,000 cells of Listeria bacteria can result in illness. After ingestion of food contaminated with Listeria, incubation periods for infection are in the range of 3 to 70 days, usually 4 to 21 days.
Five days to three weeks after ingestion, Listeria has access to all body areas and may involve the central nervous system, heart, eyes, or other locations. Fetuses of pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to the Listeria bacterium. A person with listeriosis usually has fever, muscle aches, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or diarrhea. If infection spreads to the nervous system, symptoms such as headache, stiff neck, loss of balance, confusion, obtundation or convulsions can occur. With brain involvement, listeriosis may mimic a stroke.
Infected pregnant women will ordinarily experience only a mild, flu-like illness; however, infection during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth. The perinatal and neonatal mortality rate is 80%.