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UPDATE: On May 1, 2012, Judge John Gleeson in the Eastern District of New York signed a consent decree of permanent injunction in this case. The consent decree prohibits Mexicali Cheese from receiving, preparing, processing, packing, holding or distributing any articles of food until it has completed FDA-approved measures to correct deficiencies, decontaminate their facility and comply with the law. The company must also hire an outside sanitation expert to ensure that the company's food processing procedures are safe. The firm may not resume operations until it receives FDA's permission.

 

For Immediate Release: Jan. 31, 2012
Media Inquiries:  Pat El-Hinnawy, 301-796-4763, patricia.el-hinnawy@fda.hhs.gov 
Consumer Inquiries: 1-888-INFO-FDA
 
FDA takes action against New York cheese manufacturer
Company failed to correct violations despite federal, state warnings

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is asking a federal court to prevent a New York cheese manufacturer from operating because of a history of unsanitary conditions and producing cheese in a facility contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria.

According to a complaint for permanent injunction filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, Mexicali Cheese of Woodhaven, N.Y., and two of its officers, Edinson Vergara and Claudia Marin, produced cheese under persistent unsanitary conditions that contributed to widespread Listeria monocytogenes contamination in Mexicali Cheese's facility.

In addition, the complaint, filed January 30 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, says that the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets, Division of Milk Control and Dairy Services found similar unsanitary conditions in addition to product contamination.

Mexicali Cheese makes and distributes a variety of soft Mexican cheeses to grocery stores and supermarkets in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Mexicali Cheese’s products include queso fresco [fresh cheese], queso oaxaca [Oaxacan cheese] and queso para freir [cheese for frying].

If entered by the court, the injunction would stop the company and its officers from manufacturing and distributing food until they can bring their operations into full compliance with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and FDA food safety regulations.

"FDA filed this complaint to protect the health of consumers," said Dara A. Corrigan, associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “Working closely with New York’s Department of Agriculture and Markets, we took this step to ensure that consumers do not eat potentially dangerous foods from this company.”

Consumers can report problems with FDA-regulated products to their district office consumer complaint coordinator.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation's food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

For more information:

Warning Letter, October 27, 2010

NY State announces Mexicali cheese product recall, August 6, 2010

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