The families of three children believed to be sickened by yogurt from an organic, family owned dairy north of the Tri-Cities have sued the dairy.
Pure Éire Dairy of Othello, 40 miles north of Pasco, is suspected of selling yogurt contaminated with E. coli that sickened 11 people in Washington state.
Six were under the age of 10, and the outbreak included a person in Benton County and another in Walla Walla County, said the Washington State Department of Health.
The owners of the dairy, Richard and Jill Smith, posted on social media that “if you know us, you know we are beside ourselves at the moment.”
They say on their website that the dairy has entirely grass-fed cows, which benefits not only the animals but also provides a healthier milk product that is minimally processed.
Pure Éire Dairy, which also sells yogurt under its own label, has voluntarily recalled all its yogurt products and has halted yogurt production until more is known.
Their website says they are “a couple of farm kids, raising a couple of farm kids” producing milk the old-fashioned way.
“The fact that Éire Dairy is a small, local dairy, and its Jersey Cows are ‘Certified Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, Animal Welfare Approved, Completely Grass-fed, and free of the A1 Beta Casein,’ is all well and good, but it is not a substitute for food safety,” said William Marler, the Seattle attorney for the families of the three children.
The parents of the two families involved thought they were doing the right thing for their children by buying organic yogurt, but it nearly killed them, he said.
Both families bought Éire Dairy-produced yogurt at PCC Community Markets, a food cooperative selling natural and organic foods in the Seattle area.
One lawsuit was filed by Jennifer and Jupiter Barton, whose daughter spent almost two weeks at Seattle Children’s hospital before being released May 14.
She also developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can damage kidneys and other organs, and required multiple blood transfusions and dialysis.
“Her symptoms are ongoing and recovery is uncertain,” the lawsuit said.
The second lawsuit was filed by Ashley and Jaret Johnson, who said their 3-year-old son developed hemolytic uremic syndrome.
He spent April 29 to May 5 in Swedish and Seattle Children’s for treatment that included a transfusion.
Their second child, a 1-year-old, also was hospitalized at Seattle Children’s after being sickened.
They also have continuing symptoms.
Both lawsuits filed in King County Superior Court ask for an unspecified amount of damages for past and future loss of enjoyment of life, medical expenses, other economic damages and emotional distress.