3-year Salmonella Outbreak in Utah Traced to Homemade ‘Queso Fresco’ from ‘Mr. Cheese’
Utah Public Health investigators have linked more than 2,000 cases of salmonella since 2009 to homemade “queso fresco,” a popular Mexican cheese, that officials say was made by a man they are referring to as “Mr. Cheese.”
Health official were concerned about a high number of salmonella Newport cases in six Utah counties and tracked the outbreak through 2011, the Deseret News reported, and after an investigation and several test, were able to find a common source of the bacteria at an undisclosed restaurant/deli-type facility in Salt Lake City last July.
That’s when the District Attorney’s office got involved and KSL Radio reported that officials identified a dairy and a man they believed to be responsible for the cheese, which is sometimes refereed to as ‘bathtub cheese.’ The cheese did not have labels and was often sold out of the back of a car.
“We put together a photo lineup and took it to the operator of the facility,” Dr. Royal DeLegge, director of Salt Lake Valley Health Department’s Environmental Health Division, said during a press conference. “He identified the individual as Mr. Cheese, who was a supplier to him.”
Raw milk and unsanitary conditions seem to be the main causes of the salmonella, KSL-TV reported. And KSL Radio says that the conversation between health investigators and Mr. Cheese was continuously interrupted by flies buzzing around the facility where the cheese was made.
Utah health officials say the illness often goes unreported because it leads to nausea, vomiting and diarrhea and is mistaken for a stomach virus, the News reported.
Officials have ordered the deli to stop purchasing cheese from illegal sources but will not release the name of the deli until pending discipline against its license is complete, according to a Salt Lake Tribune article. Mr. Cheese has not been charged, and officials are not releasing his name.
The Department of Agriculture issued a cease and desist order to Mr. Cheese on Oct. 12, according to the article.Tell us what you think in the comments below or on:
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