Some McBee Dairy Farm customers not concerned about E. coli risk

Some McBee Dairy Farm customers not concerned about E. coli risk

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Betsy Thomas and her family drink two gallons of McBee's raw milk a week. She switched to this raw milk six months ago and bought into the cow share operation in order to get the milk. Betsy Thomas and her family drink two gallons of McBee's raw milk a week. She switched to this raw milk six months ago and bought into the cow share operation in order to get the milk.
Betsy Thomas says she is not concerned about the alert issued Monday and will continue to drink the raw milk she picked up last week from McBee Dairy Farm. Betsy Thomas says she is not concerned about the alert issued Monday and will continue to drink the raw milk she picked up last week from McBee Dairy Farm.
"I realize the risk. I think they are small and I am willing to accept that as my responsibility in making the choice to drink raw milk," said Betsy Thomas. "I realize the risk. I think they are small and I am willing to accept that as my responsibility in making the choice to drink raw milk," said Betsy Thomas.
"They're right, it is absolutely their choice to drink raw milk, but it's my job to protect people from getting sick," said Knox County Health Department Director Dr. Martha Buchanan. "They're right, it is absolutely their choice to drink raw milk, but it's my job to protect people from getting sick," said Knox County Health Department Director Dr. Martha Buchanan.
Betsy Thomas wants the cease and desist order lifted so she can get another two gallons of raw milk from McBee Farm next week. Betsy Thomas wants the cease and desist order lifted so she can get another two gallons of raw milk from McBee Farm next week.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The Knox County Health Department has issued an alert advising people to dispose of raw milk or dairy products from McBee Dairy Farm due to the potential for E. coli.

Some who drink the raw milk say they're not concerned with possible contamination.

The health department has confirmed three cases of E. coli and is still investigating six others. Officials say the only link is raw milk from McBee dairy farm in Mascot. Knox County Health Department officials say they get a case or two of E. coli every month, but rarely find a link.

They say nine potential cases with a link are uncommon, which is why they felt the need to warn the public. However, some customers believe it was wrong to issue the alert.

Betsy Thomas and her family drink two gallons of McBee's raw milk a week. She switched to this raw milk six months ago and bought into the cow share operation in order to get the milk.

"The raw milk was better for you and wasn't pasteurized or homogenized," said Thomas.

Thomas says she is not concerned about the alert issued Monday and will continue to drink the raw milk she picked up last week from McBee Dairy Farm.

"I realize the risk. I think they are small and I am willing to accept that as my responsibility in making the choice to drink raw milk," said Thomas.

The Tennessee Department of Health began investigating last week a cluster of E. coli illnesses associated with raw milk consumption.

The first batch of test results from McBee Farm has come back negative for E. coli bacteria, but officials with the health department say these tests have limitations because older batches couldn't be tested and E. coli is not evenly distributed. For example, only a portion of a gallon of milk may be contaminated.

Knox County Health Department Director Dr. Martha Buchanan says the only common link between all the confirmed and possible cases of E. coli is that each patient drank raw milk from McBee Dairy Farm. She says that is enough to issue an alert.

"They're right, it is absolutely their choice to drink raw milk, but it's my job to protect people from getting sick," said Buchanan.

Owner of McBee Dairy Farm Marcie McBee says those who consume raw milk from her farm are made aware of the risks. Thomas says taking the risk is her choice. She wants the cease and desist order lifted so she can get another two gallons of raw milk from McBee Farm next week.

"McBee Farm is still having to milk their cows, feed their cows, care for their cows, and I'm still paying for that, but then they're pouring my milk down the drain," said Thomas.

Health department officials say they will not allow McBee Dairy Farm to distribute milk until all 200 people who may have consumed the contaminated raw milk are contacted and all test results are returned. The health department has not released a timeframe for the raw milk at McBee Dairy Farm to be distributed.

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