FDA Investigates Listeria Outbreak Linked to Soft Cheese Produced by Vulto Creamery
May 3, 2017
On this page:
- Fast Facts
- What is the Problem and What is Being Done About It?
- What are the Symptoms of Listeriosis?
- Who is at Risk?
- What Specific Products were Recalled?
- What Do Consumers Need To Do?
- What Do Restaurants and Retailers Need To Do?
- Who Should be Contacted?
- Additional Information
- On Wednesday, May 3, 2017 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the outbreak appears to be over. Eight people were infected from four states and two of these people died.
- The FDA along with the CDC and state and local officials identified Ouleout cheese from Vulto Creamery of Walton, New York, as the likely source of an outbreak of listeriosis in eight people from four states.
- 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 11 Vulto Creamery expanded its recall to include all of its products on the market: Ouleout, Andes, Blue Blais, Hamden, Heinennellie, Miranda, Walton Umber and Willowemoc.
- In response to the outbreak, the FDA initiated an inspection at Vulto Creamery on February 28, 2017, and issued an FDA form 483 at the close of the inspection describing the investigators’ inspectional observations. An FDA Form 483 represents the observations of an FDA inspector, and does not represent the agency’s final conclusions regarding the conditions at a firm.
The FDA, CDC, and state and local officials investigated a multi-state outbreak of listeriosis linked to soft cheese produced by Vulto Creamery.
The CDC reported that eight 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 March 13, 2017. All eight people were hospitalized and two people died. Ill people ranged in age from less than one year to 89 years, with a median age of 52.
Information gathered from ill individuals’ interviews, along with testing of cheeses collected from someone linked to the outbreak, from a retail location, and from Vulto Creamery, indicates that Ouleout soft cheese was 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. 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.
On March 11, 2017 Vulto Creamery expanded its recall to include all products on the market: Ouleout, Andes, Blue Blais, Hamden, Heinennellie, Miranda, Walton Umber and Willowemoc.
In response to the outbreak, the FDA initiated an inspection at Vulto Creamery on February 28, 2017, and issued a ten-page, 14-point FDA form 483 at the close of the inspection on March 22, 2017, describing the investigators’ inspectional observations. Among the observations noted were poor employee hygiene practices, black and/or green mold in several places within the facility, and equipment in disrepair.
On Wednesday, May 3, 2017 CDC reported that the outbreak appears to be over.
For a complete list of recalled products, including product photographs, linked to Vulto Creamery, see Vulto Creamery Issues Voluntary Recall of All Soft, Wash-Rind Raw Milk Cheeses Because of Possible Health Risk.
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.
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.
Vulto Creamery 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.
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 table spoon 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.
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.
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.
- CDC Vital Signs Listeria
- FoodSafety.gov on Listeria
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