Food News

Update: Tons of Contaminated Cheese Sold in Florida, Texas, California, New York

Yesterday I described what might have been the largest cheese bust in history. Eighty-five tons of the stuff, most of it contaminated with staph, was sold to at least 30 people.

Today I learned some of the cheese made it out of Miami to Texas, California, and New York. The FDA has issued a warning, pasted below, which describes how the packages look, the brands, and where to call to report if you find any.

The cheese had been bought from Nicaragua for $322,000 by a Miami company, Lacteos Factory. The feds ordered it returned because of the contamination and lack of pasteurization. Two Hondurans were arrested after they tried to trick authorities. They face up to five years in jail and a large fine.

The U.S. Attorney's Office, which made the arrests, declined to comment about the case, and no one answered the phone at the Lacteos Factory this afternoon, for a second straight day.



Food and Drug Administration

Florida District

555 Winderley Place

Suite 200

Maitland, Florida 32751

Telephone: 407-475-4700

FAX: 407-475-4768

Nationwide Consumer Warning: Contaminated Cheese

The Food and Drug Administration is alerting consumers not to purchase or consume Naturally Aged White Cheese, Dry Cheese, or Hard Dry Cheese manufactured by Lacteos Nueva Guinea, Empalme El Verdun Nueva Guinea Raas, Nueva Guinea, Nicaragua. Products were imported and distributed by The Lacteos Factory, Miami, FL 33142.

The Lacteos Factory, Miami, FL 33142 is believed to have distributed the cheese products to retail stores in Florida, Texas, California, and New York, between January 2010 and April 2010 in 1 lb clear plastic vacuum bags. The product labeling does not contain a product code or expiration date.

FDA laboratory analysis has confirmed the products to be adulterated with Staphylococcus aureus (Staph). Staph infections can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, headache and muscle cramping. The greatest health risk is to the very young, the very old, and those with compromised immune systems.

No illnesses are known to be associated with the products at this time.

Retail grocery stores are asked to check and remove any products labeled as The Lacteos Factory or Lacteos Nueva Guinea White, Dry, or Hard Cheese products from their inventory. Consumers are advised to dispose of any products of this type in their possession. If they are experiencing adverse health problems from the consumption of these products, they should promptly contact a physician. FDA requests consumers and physicians to report adverse events to FDA's MEDWATCH 1-800-332-1088.

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Chuck Strouse is the former editor in chief of Miami New Times. He has shared two Pulitzer Prizes and won dozens of other awards. He is an honors graduate of Brown University and has worked at newspapers including the Miami Herald and Los Angeles Times.
Contact: Chuck Strouse