Seven E. Coli Illnesses in Maryland Linked to Unpasteurized Apple Cider

Baugher’s apple cider has been linked thus far to seven E. Coli infections in Maryland.  Three people have been hospitalized, and so far there have been no reports of HUS (hemolytic uremic syndrome), which is the leading cause of kidney failure in those with E. Coli.

The company, Baugher Enterprise, Inc. of Westminster, has voluntarily recalled the unpasteurized apple cider according to Maryland public health officials.  The company had been warned previously that the processing methods used were not sufficient to ensure against product contamination, so that consumers were not put at risk.  A letter issued to the company by the FDA in July of 2006 to the president of Baugher Enterprise warned that serious violations were found during an inspection that took place during the time period of March-April 2006.

Among the violations found at this time, the company did not have a written HACCP plan to control food safety hazards that were likely to occur with unpasteurized apple cider.  This plan is a requirement.  Additionally, the letter stated that sanitation control records must be kept that document monitoring and corrections; these records were not maintained by the company.  Sanitation control records relate to the general cleanliness and condition of the processing environment, including food contact surfaces, water safety, cross contamination hazards, food packaging materials and hand washing and sanitizing procedures.

According to Frances Phillips, Deputy Secretary for Public Health from the DHMH, five of the seven who became ill were children under 18 years of age.  Those three who were hospitalized have now been discharged.  While the links between the E. Coli illnesses and the apple cider have not been confirmed, the product is being tested and results will be forthcoming in the next few days according to Cheryl Vural, director of orchard retail operations at the company.

Baugher’s has ceased production of the apple cider for the time being, and it is not known when production will start back up according to Vural.  She stated that they are primarily concerned with the health of those affected by the E. Coli strain at the present time.

Food poisoning is commonly characterized by nausea, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.  Vomiting or fever may also occur.  Most healthy individuals experience only mild illness lasting for a few days, but some people are at increased risk of developing serious or even fatal complications.  These individuals include the frail or elderly, young children, pregnant women and those with a weakened immune system.

Individuals at a high risk for complications should seek medical attention at once if symptoms develop. Learn more about O’Connor Law, Kansas City injury attorneys, assisting individuals with complex food poisoning and other cases.

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