May 20, 2019

Les Freres Cheese Listeria Inspection Involves Two Agencies

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture has joined the Food and Drug Adminstration in an inspection of  Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Company in Waterloo, Wisconsin. The dual-agency review of Crave Brothers’ facilities is part of a “fast-breaking investigation” of a multi-state outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes that has resulted in one miscarriage and the death of an older adult from Minnesota. The linkage between the health threat and Crave Brothers soft cheese was drawn to a point by preliminary pathogen testing of cheese samples taken from separate retail locations by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Crave Brothers Les Frères cheese and Petit Frère with Truffles were the two cheeses where Listeria was found.

Les-Freres-CheeseListeriosis, a life-threatening foodborne disease, is especially threatening to pregnant women and older adults who have weakened immune systems. When the outbreak was announced early this month by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), five people were confirmed as victims. All were initially hospitalized in Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana or Ohio. The FDA has food safety jurisdiction over cheese production in the U.S. and it immediately announced that it would be inspecting the operation at Crave Brothers. The same notice said Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture was cooperating in the review.

“We recognize that people will be concerned about this outbreak, and we will continue to provide updates and advice,” the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said July 5. No updates have been issued since then, but Whole Foods Market announced its own recall of Les Freres cheese — sold by the pound and wrapped in stores — in 30 states and the District of Columbia.

Listeria lawyer Fred Pritzker, who currently represents a Listeria survivor sickened by imported cheese wrapped and sold by a Whole Foods store, said there is already strong epidemiological evidence to support a Les Freres Listeria lawsuit. But families and individuals affected by the food poisoning in this case deserve to know more about the cause for discussions about fault and liability and Pritzker’s Bad Bug Law Team will submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to examine the latest Crave Brothers inspection results as soon as they are available. The law firm already has reviewed FDA documents relating to the 2010 recall by Crave Brothers of 4,000 pounds of fresh mozzarella cheese, Nicaraguan style string cheese, Mexican string cheese and Mexican melting cheese . “The product is manufactured under insanitary conditions, which can lead to micro-contamination,” a July 2010 FDA enforcement report said.

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