E. coli Prompts Recall of all Sally Jackson Cheese Products

Sally Jackson Cheese of Oroville, Washington, is recalling all of its cheese products, including cow, goat, and sheep cheeses, because they may be contaminated with <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/food_poisoning">E. coli O157:H7, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just announced. All Sally Jackson cheeses on the market should be avoided because the products were processed under conditions that create a significant risk of contamination, and have been identified as one possible source of several cases of E. coli O157:H7 infections. All Sally Jackson cheese is made from unpasteurized raw milk.

According to the FDA, Sally Jackson brand cheeses made from raw cow, goat, and sheep milk were distributed nationwide to restaurants, distributors, and retail stores in California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. The cheeses are all soft raw milk cheeses in various sized pieces and do not have labels or codes. The cow and sheep milk cheeses are wrapped in chestnut leaves, the goat cheese is wrapped in grape leaves; all are secured with twine. The cheeses may have an outer wrapping of waxed paper.

The problem was revealed as a result of follow-up by the FDA of a report of an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections. The notification came from the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), Washington Department of Health, and the Oregon Public Health Division. Earlier this month, FDA was informed of an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections by the Oregon Public Health Department (OPHD), WSDA, and the Washington Department of Health (WDOH). An investigation by these three state agencies and Public Health, Seattle and King County identified eight ill persons with the outbreak strain who were ill between September and November. Of the seven patients for whom food history is available, one reported consuming Sally Jackson cheese, and four others may have consumed Sally Jackson cheese. Three of the four who may have consumed Sally Jackson cheese ate cheese from two restaurants serving Sally Jackson cheese, while the fourth tasted several cheeses that may have included Sally Jackson cheese. The remaining two consumed artisanal cheeses, but do not know if it was Sally Jackson cheese. Analysis of cheese samples is currently underway.

Customers who have purchased Sally Jackson cheeses are urged to return the recalled cheese to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1.509.429.3057, Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time.

Consumers who have any Sally Jackson cheese should not eat it. Restaurant operators and any other food-service operations that have any Sally Jackson cheese should not serve it. Distributors should stop distribution. To prevent people or animals, including wild animals, from eating the cheese, cheese that is not returned to the place of purchase should be disposed of in a closed plastic bag placed in a sealed trashcan.

People infected with E. coli O157:H7 can develop diarrhea (often bloody) and abdominal cramps for about three-to-four after ingesting the organism, but some illnesses may last longer and are more severe. Infection is usually diagnosed by culture of a stool sample. While most people recover within a week, some may develop a severe infection. A type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) can begin as the diarrhea is improving; this can occur among persons of any age but is most common in children under five years of age and the elderly. Signs and symptoms of HUS may include: fever, abdominal pain; pale skin tone; fatigue and irritability; small, unexplained bruises or bleeding from the nose and mouth; decreased urination and swelling of the face, hands, feet, or entire body. Persons who experience these symptoms and believe they are at risk for HUS should seek emergency medical care immediately as HUS can lead to serious kidney damage and even death.

FDA just completed its inspection of the Sally Jackson facility and issued a Form 483, Inspectional Observations, which is not a final agency determination regarding compliance. FDA collaborated with an investigation being conducted by the WSDA, which identified conditions that create a significant risk of contamination including problems related to the sanitation of the facility, its employees, equipment, and utensils, as well as problems with facility construction and maintenance.

Unpasteurized raw milk in raw milk cheese is obtained from cows, sheep, or goats and is not pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria. This raw, unpasteurized milk can carry dangerous bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria, which are responsible for causing numerous foodborne illnesses. These harmful bacteria can seriously affect the health of anyone who drinks raw milk or eats cheese and other foods made from raw milk. The bacteria in raw milk can be especially dangerous to pregnant women, children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems.

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