Ex-Cheese Manufacturer Pleads Guilty After Listeria Outbreak

Ex-Cheese Manufacturer Pleads Guilty After Listeria Outbreak

(RepublicanView.org) – A former cheese manufacturer has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges linked to a listeria outbreak. The Department of Justice indicted Johannes Vulto and Vulto Creamery of Walton on charges of causing the introduction of adulterated food into interstate commerce between 2014 and 2017.

US Attorney Carla B. Freedman for the Northern District of New York said in a statement that the prosecution held Vulto to account for its unsafe practices that left two people dead and hospitalized eight.

The outbreak occurred in February 2017, and Vulto Creamery was found to be responsible. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigators found that employees at the creamery did not wash their hands before using them to stir ingredients. They noted an employee with cuts on his hands who was still using them to stir milk. Swabs furthermore found listeriosis.

A federal court shut the company down and barred Mr. Vulto from the dairy industry and from making or distributing food. The FDA instituted a recall, but it was not enough to prevent the death of two people from listeriosis, which can be fatal, particularly to vulnerable groups such as the elderly or pregnant women.

This year, January saw a similar recall of cotija Mexican grating cheese manufactured by California-based company Rizo-López Foods after listeria was found in a sample. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 26 people in eleven states have been hospitalized, as of early February.

Not only did a nationwide recall apply to the cheese, but also to ready-to-eat enchiladas, snacks, dips, dressings, wraps, salads, and taco kits sold by major retailers, including Walmart and Trader Joe’s.

Listeriosis is caused by ingestion of food contaminated with listeria bacteria. The World Health Organization calls the disease “serious but preventable and treatable.” The bacteria is most often found in deli meats and cheeses but can also contaminate soil, water, and vegetation. Infection can be transmitted from human to human and from pregnant mothers to their babies. It is also sometimes found in animal feces.

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