James Zenker never imagined his young son would battle for his life at just two-years-old.
His son William got E. coli after drinking raw milk linked to French Broad Farm. Zenker said a nutritionist recommended the raw milk to help William fight allergies.
“He’s not able to speak and not able to do the same activities as before he was ill,” Zenker said.
The vast majority of nutritionists, dieticians and physicians I encounter – and it’s frequent with my brain status and trips to emergency – know shit about microbial food safety.
The odd ones do, and they are food safety heros.
But when hospitals continue to serve raw sprouts to immunocompromised people, when they won’t be sold at WalMart in the U.S., I gotta question their food safety credibility.
To reiterate, I stared the Food Safety Network (the original FSN) over 25 years ago as an incoming graduate student in 1993 in the wake of the Jack-in-the-Box outbreak, combining my science and journalism learnings, and because a constant refrain I observed was, I never knew foodborne illness could be so serious.
That’s why I continue to do it as a form of community service (I haven’t been paid since 2016).
Of the 15 children sick with E. coli in Tennessee that has now been linked to consumption of raw milk and contact with ruminants from French Broad Farm, William is the last one left in the hospital. His father said East Tennessee Children’s Hospital saved his son’s life.
The Knox County Health Department said an investigation concluded that the outbreak was caused by two separate sources, the exposure to farm animals and exposure to raw milk.
“While it is rare, it appears we had two sets of children sickened by two different strains of E. coli O157 at the same time. The epidemiological evidence overwhelmingly supported the two-source theory: consumption of raw milk and some type of contact, most likely indirect, with ruminant animals,” said KCHD Director Dr. Martha Buchanan.
William has had several blood transfusions during his recovery and still needs more. His home church Temple Baptist in Powell (no relation – dp) hosted a replacement drive Tuesday for William and the community.
“It’s so encouraging to see people take time out of their busy day and donate from their own life to help Will and others affected by E. coli,” Zenker said.
If you would like more information about future blood drives click here:
Blood drives scheduled to help children infected with E. coli.