New Jersey Cheese Maker Shut Down Over Unsanitary Conditions

A unit of Quesos Mi Pueblito LLC has been shut down by federal order because of following a citation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said NorthJersey.com.

The Mexican food establishment was cited for selling <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/food_poisoning">tainted cheese, said NorthJersey.com. President and co-owner, Felix Sanchez, said the firm was looking to restart the division shortly, said North Jersey.com. Sanchez must follow federal mandates before reopening that division, which, said NorthJersey.com, employed 12. “We want to start that in the near future, not too far in the future,” Sanchez said, quoted NorthJersey.com.

We’ve been following news about Quesos Mi Pueblito’s disgusting processing conditions for some time and wrote that it manufactured and distributed a variety of soft, semi-soft, and hard Mexican cheeses in grocery stores and supermarkets in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Among Quesos Mi Pueblito’s products are queso oaxaca, queso fresco, queso requeson, and queso cotija molido.


Federal inspectors visited the location six times in August and September 2009 and found 17 alleged hazards including storing cheese in inappropriate temperatures that would produce bacteria, improper storage and cleaning of equipment, “using cheese presses with “after cleaning product residue,” and running a “cheese production room where a sewer pipe vented sewer gases,” wrote NorthJersey.com.

Four live cockroaches and a “live silverfish-like crawling insect” were also observed during one visit and were seen in the company’s raw ingredients storage room, said the FDA action report. Also, “Dead winged insects were observed in the hard cheese maturation room,” according to the inspectors’ September 30 visit, quoted NorthJersey.com. Quesos Mi Pueblito ceased cheese-making activities in August 2009.

A civil lawsuit was filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) against the cheese maker and Sanchez and seeks to permanently ban Quesos Mi Pueblito from operating a cheese company from its plant located at 89 Third Street, said NorthJersey.com. Also, according to the lawsuit, the dangerous, sometimes deadly, Listeria monocytogenes pathogen was discovered at the Third Street plant or in Quesos Mi Pueblito’s products, wrote NorthJersey.com.

According to NorthJersey.com, the state Department of Health and Senior Services has been working for three years to see to it that Quesos Mi Pueblito improve its operations, citing Alan Talarsky, coordinator of the dairy project at the department, who said that the firm had a “lengthy history of sanitary violations.”

In 2007, Quesos Mi Pueblito agreed to pay a $3,000; in 2008, $12,000, following the discovery of unsanitary conditions at three of its locations, said Talarsky. As of August 2009, the only produced small batches of cheese that could not be sold or distributed without state testing, added Talarsky. In May, the company entered into a consent decree with the federal government, which means, explained NorthJersey.com, it could not operate a cheese business at the Third Street location until it took steps to clean up the location. Now, if the company wants to produce cheese there it must provide the FDA with an independent lab’s report attesting to the firm’s new procedures and must hire an “independent sanitary expert” to monitor the location, said NorthJersey.com.

Listeriosis, the infection caused by the Listeria pathogen, is dangerous and can often be deadly, causing serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Listeriosis can result in miscarriage, stillbirth, or birth of a baby suffering from the infection. Pregnant women are about 20 times likelier than others to be infected, with about one-third of all Listeriosis cases occurring during pregnancy. Listeriosis can kill fetuses, prompt premature births, and can lead to hearing loss or brain damage in newborns and neurological effects and cardio respiratory failure in adults.

Listeria is responsible for an estimated 2,500 illnesses in the United States annually, with about 200 in every 1,000 cases resulting in death, or some 500 fatalities each year. Listeria infection can take days, even weeks, to develop and can present in anything from a mild flu-like illness to meningitis and septicemia.

Help filing claims and other legal assistance for the victims of Quesos Mi Pueblito products or Listeriosis poisoning is available at <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/listeria">www.YourLawyer.com.

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