Pure Eire Dairy in Washington state has closed down for good. State officials linked the dairy to an outbreak of E. Coli infections beginning in May.

As of June 24 there were 17 confirmed patients in the outbreak. Ten of the patients are younger than 10 years old. Ten of the 17 patients have had such severe symptoms they had to be admitted to hospitals. The Washington health department has not released the ages of those who have hospitalized.

Of the 17 outbreak patients, four have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure that can be fatal. Three of the patients live in Arizona and are thought to have become infected through person-to-person contact by visitors from Washington.

Most of the sick people reported eating organic yogurt made by the Pure Eire Dairy in Othello, WA. Both PCC brand and Pure Eire brand yogurt have been recalled.

In a Facebook statement the owners of the dairy thanked supporters and said they would be selling their cows. Following is their statement in its entirety. 

“As you are probably aware, our family has decided to move on to a new ‘era’ and have closed our dairy. 

“We feel so fortunate to have gotten to live our little dream and run a successful business based on our personal beliefs. A true testament to our practices came up as we were sorting cows this past week. We are proud to say we have a large handful of beautiful cows that are 18 years old and have been on this entire journey with us. They’ll stay with us and enjoy a retirement full of lush pastures. Our special practices gave us the opportunity to love on these special girls for so many years. 

“We were not shut down by any of the state agencies, nor did we ever find an issue on the dairy. We decided it was time to focus on our family life. Many of you met our children as toddlers and now they are working on high school and college!  It’s amazing how time flies!

“We couldn’t be more thankful for the support we’ve received over the years. You all are the reason we could dairy the way we did. Thank you so much for the kind messages of support and encouragement. We want to thank all of you who made donations and let you know that we are hoping to use those funds to support our amazing employees as they are working through this transition too.  

“I’ll try to continue to post information (such as cows we have available) as we work through this transition. Again, we are so grateful for your support over the years and as our family moves on to new ventures. You never know what the future will bring!”

The state continues its investigation.

A civil lawsuit filed by the parents of two children, aged 3 and 1 years old, says both children required hospitalization and one developed HUS. Both children ate some of the implicated yogurt before becoming ill with the outbreak strain of E. coli, according to the legal complaint. The children’s recoveries are ongoing and their futures are uncertain, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit filed in the Superior Court of Washington says the PCC brand yogurt from Pure Eire Dairy was contaminated with E. coli when it left the dairy. The complaint alleges that the dairy owners were negligent when they offered the implicated yogurt for sale.

“The minor plaintiffs are in the class of persons intended to be protected by these statutes and regulations, and the minor plaintiffs were injured as the direct and proximate result of the defendant’s violation of applicable federal, state, and local food safety regulations,” according to the legal complaint.

Another civil lawsuit, also in the Superior Court of Washington, has been filed by the parents of a minor child. She ate the implicated yogurt before becoming ill. The child was admitted to a hospital and developed HUS. Her recovery is ongoing with her future uncertain.

The second lawsuit also alleges that the dairy owners were negligent.

“The defendant had a duty to manufacture and sell food products that were from reliable sources and that were clean, wholesome, free from adulteration and fit for human consumption, but failed to do so, and therefore breached that duty,” according to the lawsuit.

“. . . The minor plaintiff’s injuries proximately and directly resulted from the defendant’s breach of express and implied warranties, and the plaintiffs are thus entitled to recover for all actual, consequential, and incidental damages that flow directly and in a foreseeable fashion from these breaches.”

Both lawsuits ask the court to “award such other and further relief as it deems necessary and proper in the circumstances.”

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