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FDA NEWS RELEASE

UPDATE: November 7, 2012:  On October 24, 2012, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington at Tacoma granted summary judgment for the Government against the Estrella Family Creamery LLC of Monsanto, Wash., and its owners. In its order, the Court condemned the articles seized from the Estrella Family Creamery on October 21, 2010. The Court also issued an order of permanent injunction, which prevents the creamery and its owners from manufacturing or distributing cheese or other foods in interstate commerce unless and until they take corrective action to ensure that their products will not be adulterated. The Court’s order of permanent injunction also provides the government with authority to inspect the creamery as necessary to enforce the terms of the injunction.

UPDATE: On Oct. 21, 2010, the United States Marshals Service seized all cheeses, including in-process and finished products (labeled and unlabeled), held on the premises of the Estrella Family Creamery, pursuant to a warrant issued by Judge Benjamin H. Settle on Oct. 21, 2010. Judge Settle issued this warrant at the request of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington, which filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington alleging that cheese and other articles of food held at Estrella Family Creamery are adulterated under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act because they have been held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have become contaminated with filth or whereby they may have been rendered injurious to health. 

DOJ Press Release (external link)

FDA Inspection Report
 

For Immediate Release: Sept. 4, 2010

Media Inquiries: FDA Office of Media Affairs, 301-796-4540, fdaoma@fda.hhs.gov
Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA
                                                
FDA cautions consumers about Estrella Family Creamery cheeses
All Estrella cheeses put consumers at risk for Listeria monocytogenes
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Fast Facts
  • This advisory affects all lots of Estrella Family Creamery cheeses, including cheeses identified as soft, semi-soft, semi-hard and hard.
  • The cheeses have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes (L. mono) and may cause serious illness.
  • L. mono is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.
  • Listeria infections can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
  • Healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
  • Consumers who have the cheeses should throw them away.
  • Consumers with symptoms of Listeria should consult their health care professionals.
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What is the Problem?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers to discard cheeses from Estrella Family Creamery of Montesano, Wash., because they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.  Environmental samples and one product sample collected by the FDA during an August 2010 inspection at the facility have tested positive for L. mono. 
 
The company had previously recalled cheeses due to L. mono contamination, but resumed marketing in May 2010. 
 
Previous recall notices for Estrella products:
 
2/10/10: Estrella Family Creamery Recalls Red Darla Cheese Due to Possible Health Risks
 
2/17/10: Estrella Family Creamery Expands Recall Of Various Cheeses Because Of Possible Health Risk
 
3/5/10: Estrella Family Creamery Recalls Old Apple Tree Tomme Cheese Due to Possible Health Risks
 
What are the Symptoms of Illness/Injury?
Listeria monocytogenes is an organism, which ca cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, 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 infections can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
 
For more information on Listeria: http://www.foodsafety.gov/poisoning/causes/bacteriaviruses/listeria.html
 
Who is at Risk?
All individuals are at risk. However, unborn babies, young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk.

What Do Consumers Need To Do? 
Consumers should discard the cheeses in the trash in a sealed container so that children and animals, such as wildlife, cannot access them.Consumers who are concerned about illness from L. mono should consult their healthcare professionals.

 
What Does the Product Look Like?
Estrella manufactures at least 18 varieties of soft ripened, semi-soft, semi-hard and hard cheeses made from raw cow or goat milk and aged 60 days or longer. The cheeses are sold in wheels or cut to order for retail markets, and do not contain lot codes.
 
While a complete product list is not available, some of the varieties that have been produced by Estrella include:
 
  • Black Creek Buttery
  • Dominoes
  • Guapier
  • Grisdale Goat
  • Subblime
  • Partly Sunny
  • Wynoochee River Blue
  • Caldwell Crik Chevrette
  • Old Apple Tree Tomme
  • Valentina
  • Vineyard Tomme
  • Brewleggio
  • Red Darla
  • Reposée
  • Bea Truffled
  • Jalapeño Buttery
  • Weebles
  
Where is it Distributed?
Estrella cheeses are sold at specialty cheese shops, farmers markets, the company’s farm store in Montesano, Wash., and through the internet. The company also sells to restaurants and takes part in cheese contests where its products are sold.
      
What is Being Done about the Problem?
FDA will continue its investigation, working with state and local officials, and will consider taking any further action that may be necessary.
 
Who Should be Contacted?
Consumers who have experienced symptoms of illness from the consumption of Estrella cheeses should contact their health care professionals.
 
Consumers may also contact their local FDA complaint coordinator in their state or call 888-INFO-FDA to report problems or illnesses related to the cheese.
 
The information in this press release reflects FDA’s best efforts to communicate what the manufacturer has reported to FDA.
 
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