Vulto Creamery Food Poisoning Outbreak and Recall
On or about March 6, 2017, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced they discovered a link between the Vulto Creamery cheese products and a Listeria monocytogenes outbreak. The link was discovered after six people, ranging in ages from newborn to 89 years, reported severe cases of Listeriosis. All six victims required hospitalization, and two died as a result of their illness. The illnesses began on September 1, 2016 and the latest victim’s illness began on January 22, 2017. The victims are from four states: Vermont, New York, Connecticut and Florida according to the CDC.
The federal agencies, in conjunction with local state health departments, found similar genetic isolates of Listeria monocytogenes in the samples of the six victims. The similarities lead the agencies to conclude that a common contaminated food source may be the link they needed. After conducting interviews, the agencies found they were right – all six people claimed to have eaten soft raw milk cheeses made by New York cheesemaker, Vulto Creamery.
With this discovery, the agencies contacted the victims to see if any cheese was still in their possession. The family of the deceased Connecticut victim graciously provided an unfinished leftover Ouleout soft raw milk cheese from Vulto Creamery to them. The federal agencies in conjunction with the New York Division of Milk Control and Dairy Services obtained samples of three separate cheese wheels of Ouleout soft raw milk cheese from Vulto Creamery’s cheese-making facility. All of the samples were tested. Their results confirmed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes, and the samples obtained from Vulto Creamery yielded a similar strain map to that of the victims. The link was confirmed.
The federal and state agencies contacted Vulto Creamery. The company immediately halted production of its cheese products. A subsequent recall, via press release, was commenced by Vulto Creamery. In its release, the company mentioned:
“Vulto Creamery, Walton, New York, is recalling all lots of Ouleout, Miranda, Heinennellie, and Willowemoc soft wash-rind raw milk cheeses out of an abundance of caution due to testing result from the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), which found Ouleout lot # 617 positive for Listeria monocytogenes and New York Department of Agriculture and Markets finding the possible contamination of Ouleout lot #623. Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, pregnant women and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths and fetal infection among pregnant women.
Product photos of all four cheese items being recalled along with a brief description are shown. If you have any of this soft, wash-rind raw-milk cheese, please do not consume it. The soft raw milk cheeses were distributed nationwide, with most being sold at retail locations in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic States, California, Chicago, Portland and Washington, DC.”
The company’s soft raw [unpasteurized] milk cheeses are sold and distributed nationwide. The company reports that they are primarily sold in sold at retail locations in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic States, California, Chicago, Portland and Washington D.C. For pictures and descriptions of the products involved, you can visit the FDA’s recall website here.
The company is asking that consumers and retailers return the product to them in lieu of disposal. Their recall notice mentions:
“Consumers that have any of these soft raw milk cheeses from Vulto Creamery should return the cheese to the purchase location for a refund. Food and cheese wholesalers and retailers with any of the Vulto Creamery soft, wash-rind raw milk cheeses on hand should immediately remove these products from common storage coolers and quarantine these cheeses in a secured area of a cooler. Any wholesaler or distributor that has any of the four cheeses should contact Vulto Creamery to receive instructions on what to do with the cheese. No recalled cheese should be destroyed until Vulto Creamery has been notified and agrees.”
The company has not yet posted the recall notice on its website or Facebook page.