Food

FDA Investigates Listeria Outbreak Linked to Soft Cheese Produced by Vulto Creamery

March 11, 2017

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Fast Facts

  • Vulto Creamery has expanded its recall to include all products on the market: Ouleout, Andes, Blue Blais, Hamden, Heinennellie, Miranda, Walton Umber and Willowemoc.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local officials, has identified Ouleout cheese from Vulto Creamery of Walton, New York, as the likely source of an outbreak of listeriosis in six people from four states. Two of the six people have died.
  • The agencies have been investigating this outbreak since January 31, 2017. After gathering evidence about various cheeses eaten by the people who became ill, CDC identified Ouleout cheese from Vulto Creamery as the likely cause of the outbreak.
  • After being informed of a positive test conducted on a retail sample of Ouleout cheese by the FDA, Vulto Creamery began contacting its customers to return Ouleout cheese on March 3, 2017, and on March 7 announced a recall of its Ouleout cheese along with its Miranda, Heinennellie, and Willowemoc cheeses. On March 10, Vulto expanded its recall to include all of its cheeses.
  • On March 8, 2017, FDA received positive test results from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets confirming samples of Ouleout cheese that matched the genetic fingerprint of Listeria monocytogenes in the outbreak. On March 10, 2017 FDA received an additional positive test result from the retail cheese sample that matched the same fingerprint of Listeria monocytogenes.

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What is the Problem and What is Being Done About It?  

The FDA, CDC, and state and local officials are investigating a multi-state outbreak of listeriosis linked to soft cheese produced by Vulto Creamery.

The CDC reports that 6 people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from Connecticut, Florida, New York and Vermont. Illnesses started on dates ranging from September 1, 2016, to January 22, 2017. All six people were hospitalized and two people died. Ill people ranged in age from less than one year to 89, with a median age of 55.

Information gathered from interviews asking about foods eaten by individuals taken ill, along with testing of cheeses collected from an individual linked to the outbreak, from a retail location, and from Vulto Creamery, indicates that Ouleout soft cheese is the likely source of illnesses associated with this outbreak. An open consumer sample was collected and tested by the Connecticut Department of Public Health. The sample matched the outbreak strain and was identified as Ouleout soft cheese from Vulto Creamery. On March 3, 2017 a retail sample collected by FDA was found to be positive for Listeria monocytogenes. After being informed of the link between the illnesses and soft cheese, Vulto Creamery announced a recall of Ouleout cheese on March 7, 2017. Out of an abundance of caution, the company also recalled additional soft cheeses, including Miranda, Heinennelli, and Willowemoc varieties.

Testing of samples of Ouleout cheese collected from Vulto Creamery by New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets identified the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes. On March 10, 2017 FDA received an additional positive test result from a retail cheese sample that matched the same fingerprint of Listeria monocytogenes. This laboratory testing provides additional evidence that the people in this outbreak became ill from eating cheese produced by Vulto Creamery.

For a complete list of recalls linked to Vulto Creamery, see Vulto Creamery Issues Voluntary Recall of All Soft, Wash-Rind Raw Milk Cheeses Because of Possible Health Risk.  

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What are the Symptoms of Listeriosis?

Listeriosis is a rare but serious illness usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes. Anyone who experiences fever and muscle aches, sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms, or develops fever and chills after eating any of the recalled products listed below, should seek medical care. Symptoms can appear from a few days up to a few weeks after consumption of the contaminated food.

Who is at Risk?

Listeriosis can be fatal, especially in certain high-risk groups. These groups include the elderly and people with weakened immune systems and certain chronic medical conditions (such as cancer). In pregnant women, listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature labor, and serious illness or death in newborn babies.

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What Specific Products were Recalled?

Vulto Creamery has recalled all lots of Ouleout, Andes, Blue Blais, Hamden, Heinennellie, Miranda, Walton Umber and Willowemoc cheeses. The cheeses were distributed nationwide, with most being sold at retail locations in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic States, California, Chicago, Portland, Ore., and Washington, DC.

What Do Consumers Need To Do?

The FDA urges consumers not to eat any of the recalled products and to check their homes for the recalled soft cheese products. Vulto Creamery directs any consumers who have purchased any of the recalled products to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Consumers should follow these simple steps:

  • Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.
  • Wash the inside walls and shelves of the refrigerator, cutting boards and countertops; then sanitize them with a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of hot water; then dry with a clean cloth or paper towel that has not been previously used.
  • Wipe up spills in the refrigerator immediately and clean the refrigerator regularly.
  • Always wash hands with warm water and soap following the cleaning and sanitization process.

Additional recommendations for preventing listeriosis are available at the CDC Listeria Prevention.

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What Do Restaurants and Retailers Need To Do?

Retailers and restaurants should not serve or sell any of the recalled products and should return them to Vulto Creamery. If they do not know the source of their cheese products, they should check with the supplier.

Wash and sanitize display cases and refrigerators where potentially contaminated products were stored.

Wash and sanitize cutting boards, surfaces, and utensils used to cut, serve, or store potentially contaminated products.

Wash hands with warm water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process.

Retailers, restaurants, and other food service operators who have processed and packaged any potentially contaminated products need to be concerned about cross-contamination of cutting surfaces and utensils through contact with the potentially contaminated products.

Regular frequent cleaning and sanitizing of cutting boards and utensils used in processing may help to minimize the likelihood of cross-contamination.

Listeria can grow at refrigeration temperatures in foods. Listeria can also cross-contaminate other food cut and served on the same cutting board or stored in the same area.

Retailers, restaurants, and other food service operators may wish to consider whether other foods available for sale could have been cross-contaminated from the potentially contaminated products, and should be discarded.

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Who should be Contacted?

Consumers who have questions about the Vulto Creamery recall may call the company’s consumer hotline at 607-222-3995 Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm Eastern Standard Time.

The FDA also encourages consumers with questions about food safety to call 1-888-SAFEFOOD Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Eastern time, or to consult the fda.gov website: http://www.fda.gov.

Additional Information

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Page Last Updated: 03/13/2017
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