Natural Foods Merchandiser

Families sue Whole Foods over tainted raw milk

Raw milk purchased at a Connecticut Whole Foods Market in 2008 sickened three small children, according to lawsuits against Whole Foods and Simsbury Town Farms Dairy.

The suits allege that after drinking raw milk contaminated with E. coli 0157, 3-year-old Evan Piccioli developed hemolytic uremic syndrome and renal failure.
Evan’s 12-month-old sister Grace and Emma Barringer, 3, whose mother was caring for Grace, also fell ill with HUS. Emma and Evan required dialysis.

The suit seeks unspecified damages against Whole Foods Markets Inc. and Community Farm of Simsbury Inc., a nonprofit that took over the Town Farms Dairy, which stopped producing milk in 2008.

"There were real concerns about the children's survival. They all ended up in intensive care under the care of pediatric renal specialists," attorney James D. Bartolini told the Hartford Courant.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health confirmed seven cases of E. coli infection and another seven probable cases among people who drank Town Farms Dairy raw milk in 2008. Officials found unsanitary processing practices and matching E. coli 0157 bacteria in one of its 28 Jersey cows.

About a dozen of Connecticut’s 150 licensed dairy farms sell raw milk, the Courant said.

Seattle attorney William Marler, who represents two other Connecticut residents sickened by Town Farms milk, says retailers assume considerable risk when they sell raw milk.

“Most, if not all, raw milk farmers have limited insurance and very few assets that are not owned solely by the bank," said Marler. "Is a retailer, like Whole Foods, liable for paying millions of dollars to its customers if they are sickened by raw milk? The short answer is--hell yes.”


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