Killer Cheese Recalled


A Delaware-based company has recalled 16 different cheese varieties after a death in California, and the emergence of newborn illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claim the cheeses produced by Roos Foods of Kenton, Delaware might have caused a listeria outbreak. The killer cheese brands that have been recalled include Mexicana, Amigo, Santa Rosa De Lima and Anita.

Areas these cheeses have been distributed include Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. The CDC reports one death in California and seven illnesses, three of which were newborns, that have been documented in Maryland. Listeria has been reported to be easily passed to a fetus during pregnancy.

At the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC,) Listeriosis is considered to be a serious infection usually caused by eating contaminated food. The bacterium is called Listeria monocytogenes, and it is labeled an “important public health problem within the United States.” This illness is often seen in adults, pregnant women, newborns and individuals with weakened immune systems.  The CDC notes that the risk of acquiring this bacterium can be reduced by proper food preparations and storage.

Listeria is often a deadly condition, as was found in the killer cheeses recently recalled. VitalSigns gives alarming details regarding this food poisoning. 1,600 people in the United States alone are sickened from Listeria, which is the third leading cause of death related to food poisoning.  The site also states, 90 percent of those infected are either pregnant women or their newborns, people 65 and older, or people with weakened immune systems.

Not only found in cheese

In 2011, two Colorado farmers were involved in a listeriosis outbreak which killed around three dozen Americans. The bacterium was reportedly transmitted by cantaloupe. Eric and Ryan Jensen were sentenced this year to five years’ probation and six months of in-home detention. The judge ruled that 100 hours of community service be completed along with $150,000 in restitution for what is dubbed the “deadliest food outbreak in 100 years.”

The Jensens have both apologized to the victims’ families and pled guilty to introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce. Some do not feel the sentencing was punitive enough due to the number of atrocious deaths,  but the prosecution recommended probation because the brothers were allegedly compliant during the investigation.

Food and safety experts claim listeriosis can be prevented.  Babies who are susceptible to the infection can be brought to premature birth, and this, a doctor reports, can cause blindness, deafness, heart problems, cerebral palsy or a condition like ADHD.

The brothers who had inherited the Jensen farming business had removed an antimicrobial wash during an equipment update. The many deaths could have been prevented if any one of their system alterations were changed before distribution.  A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspector had noted the “tragic alignment of facility design,” poor design of equipment and a very odd handling practice were the reasons for the contamination.

Changes for improved food safety protocol and inspections may lie ahead as the FDA is currently writing new regulations. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says to return these products for a full refund.  The cheese products the HHS believes to contain the killer bacterium include Ashgrove Tasmania Farm Cheese and Emporium Selection Bush Pepper Cheese, which also have been recalled.

By Lindsey Alexander


Washington Times
CDC VitalSigns
CNN Justice
CNN Health
Department of Health and Human Services

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