A recent contamination of a batch of blue cheese with Salmonella enteritidis has highlighted the danger around cheese and blue cheese in particular.
A case which took place in Georgia and Florida in The United States highlights the risks associated with Blue Cheese. Although no illnesses were directly linked to the recall, authorities have warned consumers to be aware and cautious,
Flat Creek Farm & Dairy of Swainsboro, GA, has recalled 200 pounds of Heavenly Blue cheese because of potential Salmonella enteritidis contamination. As of 11 a.m., Nov. 27, 2013, all purchasers had been notified and more than 90 percent of the product was collected or destroyed, according to Flat Creek.
When it was announced, no illnesses were associated with the recall.
Heavenly Blue is distributed in certain parts of Alabama, Georgia and Florida, and there were three online orders, which have all been notified. The product is packed in clear plastic and ranges in size from half a pound to whole wheels. The recall is specific to product marked with the lot code 130912XHB, which can be found on the front of the package.
The recall was the result of a routine sampling program conducted by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, which revealed that the finished products were contaminated. The company has identified the source of the problem and has eliminated it from future batches.
It was reported that the recalled product is potentially contaminated with Salmonella enteritidis. This is significant because it is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhoea. What many people may not be aware of is that illness can also carry long-term complications which may include severe arthritis.
Soft cheeses particularly blue and veined cheeses have been identified by American authorities as high risk.
Blue cheese and other cheeses made with unpasteurized milk is a food poisoning risk. Although in the case above Salmonella contamination was suspected, blue cheese and other soft cheeses most often are infected with Listeria.
It is very important that certain sectors of the population are particularly cautious when it comes to these soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk – these include babies and small children, old people, pregnant women and people with a lowered immune system including sick people, people recovering from illness, people with terminal diseases such as HIV.
The American Centres for Disease Control had this to say about it,
Soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk are estimated to be 50 to 160 times more likely to cause Listeria infection than when they are made with pasteurized milk. Although pasteurization of milk kills Listeria, contamination can occur in milk products made from pasteurized milk if they are produced under unsanitary conditions.