February 26, 2020

Salmonella Outbreak Launches Search For Rogue Cheesemaker

A few years ago in Utah, people started getting sick with Salmonella poisoning from unpasteurized cheese. Some of them bought it from a deli, some of them got it from a woman in a parking lot, but lab tests showed all of the illnesses came from the same source. After a three-year investigation, Utah health authorities found the source- a man dubbed “Mr.Cheese,” who managed to sicken 2,100 people with his homemade queso fresco before being apprehended.

Soft-CheesesThis week in Minnesota, health authorities announced that 13 people had contracted Salmonella poisoning from cheese made with raw milk, eight of whom were so sick they were hospitalized. Now, health authorities are searching for the cheesemaker who, like Mr. Cheese, made the product in a private residence, without a license and without following food safety laws and procedures.

From interviews with those who became ill, health officials know the cheesemaker in question made home deliveries and sold the product on the street on East Lake Street in Minneapolis. Selling raw milk is illegal in Minnesota unless it is purchased on the farm where it was produced.

As this outbreak shows, Salmonella can cause serious illness. Anyone who has purchased this cheese should not eat it. Anyone who has eaten the cheese and has symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain should see a health care provider.

“We encourage people to think carefully about those risks before consuming raw dairy products from any source and know that the risks are especially high for young children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems,”  Dr. Carlota Medus, a foodborne illness epidemiologist with Minnesota Department Health said in a statement.

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