Brucellosis linked to raw milk cheese, coupled with Lyme disease, leaves woman bedridden

Reve Fisher of Opposing Views writes a vacation in Greece may have been the factor that left an English woman in debilitating pain.

brucellosis.cheeseWhile in Kos, Greece, with her family in 2013, Sam Philpott ate a “significant amount” of unpasteurized goat cheese in sandwiches, on pizzas, and as part of salads.

A few weeks later, she experienced a number of troubling symptoms, such as constant vomiting and nausea, migraines, intense weakness, fevers, exhaustion, and horrific pain. Three years later, she is barely able to walk.

“Who knew that [unpasteurized] cheese; that is delicious and has brought me much momentary happiness, could cause the mind numbing and wanting to end my life type of pain that I have been suffering with,” she said, as reported by The Mirror. “With each mouthful, to my unfortunate complete lack of knowledge and utter surprise, I was ingesting the bacteria that has led to my being bedridden.”

Sam is receiving intravenous therapy treatment at Sponaugle Wellness Institute in Oldsmar, Florida, a facility with an “incredible” success rate for treating patients with Lyme disease, as said on the family’s Go Fund Me page.

However, it is recommended that patients with Lyme disease be diagnosed within six months for the clinic’s regular treatment to be effective. The 22-year-old has been struggling with health ailments for six years.

In 2010, she was bitten by a tick while in Weimar, California, and developed intense joint pain, nausea, anxiety, depression, and poor concentration afterwards. By 2012, she needed a walking frame. Her 51-year-old mother became her full-time caregiver.

“At the clinic, they have said she is one of the worst patients they have seen, in terms of how far her illness has progressed,” said Joe Philpott, Sam’s 24-year-old brother. “It’s a kick in the teeth, but she has faith they’ll be able to help. She just wants to go back to studying and get her life back.”

Sam is receiving medication for both Brucellosis and Lyme disease, as her symptoms match both conditions.

“Doctors believe that she more than likely contracted brucellosis the summer she was in Kos – so they think it is linked to eating cheese,” Joe explained.

Salmonella in Chapel Hill creamery milk same strain as illnesses

Chapel Hill Creamery released a press release with some more info related to the outbreak.

Chapel Hill Creamery in Chapel Hill, NC, has announced a voluntary recall of all Chapel Hill Creamery cheese products because of a potential association with an outbreak of Salmonella infections. Health officials have identified recent cases of Salmonella infection in persons who consumed Chapel Hill Creamery products. A matching strain of Salmonella has been identified in the milk from the creamery that was used during preparation of the cheese products.Unknown-2

Also, some interesting messages in this coverage from chapelboro.com:

Orange County Health Department director Dr. Colleen Bridger said the investigation began because of local numbers that were out of sync with normal figures.

“Orange County, Durham County, Wake County and Chatham County were all noticing that we had higher-than-usual reported cases of Salmonella,” Bridger said.

Bridger said “it’s not unusual” to see spikes in Salmonella throughout the year but these spikes were out of the ordinary. That caused officials to ask those who had tested positive for Salmonella about their eating habits in an attempt to pinpoint the source.

“In doing that questionnaire,” Bridger said, “we had one person identify that they had eaten cheese from Chapel Hill Creamery.”

Bridger said that the state Department of Agriculture reached out to the Orange County Health Department around that same time to report that they had a sample from Chapel Hill Creamery test positive for Salmonella. Bridger said further testing determined the same strain found in the sample from Chapel Hill Creamery was found in those testing positive for Salmonella.

Bridger said Chapel Hill Creamery responded immediately by issuing a voluntary recall of all Chapel Hill Creamery cheese products.

“I can’t state enough how proactive Chapel Hill Creamery has been in this investigation, how cooperative they have been,” Bridger said. “They have done everything they were supposed to do in the preparation of their cheese. These things sometimes happen.

“They did not do anything wrong.”

Bridger added that “there is always a risk” when using raw milk to make cheese, which she characterized as a one percent risk.

Bridger said Chapel Hill Creamery goes “above and beyond” federal guidelines in most cases when processing and aging cheeses.

Data on practices and one-percent risks would help support these statements.

A select list of cheese/pathogen incidents can be found here.

2 stricken with Listeria in France, unpasteurized cheese recalled

The Puillet cheese factory, located in Roanne, France withdrew its products from sale after detection of Listeria monocytogenes. Two people from the retirement home of Belmont-de-la-Loire have been infected.

camembert_franceListeria has been detected in Camembert cheese made from cow’s milk from a local dairy.

The presence of bacteria was detected after 2 people from the retirement home of Belmont-de-la-Loire, returned after a meal on June 23, 2016. The investigation by the DDPP Loire (Department for Protection of Populations) revealed that the infection had come from cheese consumed during the meal.

The manager of the dairy remains dubious: “We do not know where it comes from or how it could be contaminated. It’s been over 20 years since we started (the business) and it never happened before. It is really hurting our business.”

Food fraud: Ireland wants to separate its cheese from Brits

Provenance of processed foods is a significant quality attribute for many consumers and one for which they are willing to pay a price premium. As a consequence, the fraudulent mislabeling or adulteration of high-value foods now occurs on a global scale.

Artisan_cheese_cover_200Regulatory authorities and food businesses are focusing greater efforts in combating food fraud which can have serious ramifications for both revenue and reputation.

A number of provenance verification schemes have been established in other countries with the express purpose of protecting the denomination of quality associated with particular food products. This includes the Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano protected designation of origin status for artisan cheeses in Italy. There is currently no such scheme for artisan or “farmhouse” cheeses produced on the island of Ireland and yet it is desirable to facilitate a system of provenance confirmation which can provide confidence to consumers in the true geographical origin of artisan cheeses branded as produced on the island of Ireland. It is therefore prudent at this point in time to investigate analytical methods that could be applied to provide consumers with the necessary assurance of the claimed island of Ireland origin of such products.

The concentration and relative ratios of key analytes in a food products such as cheese are mainly influenced by animal diet and geographic location. Several reports from other countries or regions have shown that the use of multivariate analysis of analytical data comprising elemental and isotopic ratio values can provide confirmation of claimed geographic provenance. Given that food animals on the island of Ireland are largely fed a grass-based diet and reside within a discrete insular geographical area, there is potential for developing robust fingerprint models that can characterise indigenous farmhouse cheeses.

Ultimately, the development of robust models will require the demonstration of two properties: (a) models should correctly classify the provenance of all island of Ireland-produced artisan cheeses as originating on the island of Ireland, and (b) models should correctly identify that farmhouse cheeses produced outside the island of Ireland are not of island of Ireland provenance. These two objectives are inseparable in the context of the provenance testing desired and must be demonstrated before any such model can be confidently used in practice. Before this juncture is reached the application of analytical methodologies for the purposes of robust fingerprinting must be investigated.

Artisan_cheese_640_90This project was a technology viability study that set out to do just that. The strategy pursued generated a considerable quantity of baseline analytical data on the elemental and isotopic composition of island of Ireland artisanal cheese as well as a selection of artisanal cheeses from Great Britain and mainland Europe. While it was not possible to confirm the geographic provenance of island of Ireland artisanal cheeses with 100% accuracy, nonetheless trends in some of the data, especially the isotope data, suggest the possibility of effective segregation of island of Ireland from mainland European, if not Great Britain, cheeses.

Therefore the analytical methodologies investigated have been scoped out for this purpose and can now be taken forward and applied in more focused investigations involving artisan cheeses and other foods produced on the island of Ireland.

Listeria and raw milk cheese: A risk assessment involving sheep

Semisoft cheese made from raw sheep’s milk is traditionally and economically important in southern Europe. However, raw milk cheese is also a known vehicle of human listeriosis and contamination of sheep cheese with Listeria monocytogenes has been reported.

sheep.milk.cheeseIn the present study, we have developed and applied a quantitative risk assessment model, based on available evidence and challenge testing, to estimate risk of invasive listeriosis due to consumption of an artisanal sheep cheese made with raw milk collected from a single flock in central Italy.

In the model, contamination of milk may originate from the farm environment or from mastitic animals, with potential growth of the pathogen in bulk milk and during cheese ripening. Based on the 48-day challenge test of a local semisoft raw sheep’s milk cheese we found limited growth only during the initial phase of ripening (24 hours) and no growth or limited decline during the following ripening period. In our simulation, in the baseline scenario, 2.2% of cheese servings are estimated to have at least 1 colony forming unit (CFU) per gram. Of these, 15.1% would be above the current E.U. limit of 100 CFU/g (5.2% would exceed 1,000 CFU/g). Risk of invasive listeriosis per random serving is estimated in the 10−12 range (mean) for healthy adults, and in the 10−10 range (mean) for vulnerable populations.

When small flocks (10–36 animals) are combined with the presence of a sheep with undetected subclinical mastitis, risk of listeriosis increases and such flocks may represent a public health risk.

Risk assessment of human listeriosis from semisoft cheeses made from raw sheep’s milk in Lazio and Tuscany

Roberto Condoleo, Ziad Mezher, Selene Marozzi, Antonella Guzzon, Roberto Fischetti, Matteo Senese, Stefania Sette, Luca Bucchini

Risk Analysis, June 2016, doi:10.1111/risa.12649

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/risa.12649/abstract;jsessionid=519D74728E4A34E1CE300B856B99D54B.f04t04

Doering: Label raw milk cheese

Ronald L. Doering, BA, LL.B. MA, LL.D., a past president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and now counsel in the Ottawa offices of Gowling WLG, writes in his Food in Canada column that the science keeps piling up.

ron.doeringIt is not safe to consume raw milk and its products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced studies that show again that pathogens from raw milk including tuberculosis, diphtheria, typhoid, Salmonella, Listeria, and many other bacterial infections make it unsafe for human consumption. A comprehensive study was released last month by Belgian authorities that concluded that “raw milk poses a realistic health threat due to possible contamination with human pathogens.” Interestingly, the same study found that there was “no substantial change in the nutritional value of raw milk or other benefits associated with raw milk consumption,” but that’s a story for another day. And, of course, the unfortunate proof keeps coming, with hundreds of outbreaks, many deaths and thousands of illnesses just in the last few years due to raw milk and raw milk cheese.

Just because raw milk and raw milk cheese are not as safe as if they were pasteurized doesn’t necessarily mean that they should be banned. That is why regulations around the world are so inconsistent. The sale of raw milk is illegal in Scotland, but legal in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (indeed our future king will drink nothing else, a fact that could be used by both sides of the debate!). South of the border the states are roughly evenly divided, but interstate commerce is banned. Raw milk and most raw milk cheeses are banned in Australia but legal in New Zealand. In Canada, the sale of raw milk directly to consumers is prohibited by a variety of provincial provisions and it is a federal crime to sell unpasteurized milk under B.08.002.2(1) of the Food and Drug Regulations.

Canada continues to allow the sale of raw milk cheeses aged over 60 days, but provides this clear warning: “Health Canada’s ongoing advice to pregnant women, children, older adults and people with a weakened immune system is to avoid eating cheese made from raw milk as it does present a higher risk of foodborne illness than pasteurized milk cheeses. If consumers are unsure whether a cheese is made from pasteurized milk, they should check the label or ask the retailer.”

raw-milk-cheeseWhen I first wrote about this issue three years ago I pointed out the regulatory absurdity of the last sentence in the Health Canada (HC) warning. There is no requirement to label and most retailers have no idea if the cheese is made from raw milk, and have no means to determine if it is. At the time I received an informal response to my article from a senior official advising me that before moving to mandatory labelling, HC was going to partner with FDA to do a risk assessment of raw milk cheese, focusing specifically on the risk of illness from Listeria monocytogenes. The results of this risk assessment were released last summer: “The risk of listeriosis from the consumption of soft-ripened cheese made from raw milk is substantially larger than that for consumption of soft-ripened cheese made from pasteurized milk and the 60-day aging regulation actually increases the risk of listeriosis for consumption of raw milk cheeses.” The risk was found to be from 50 to 160 times greater. This resulted in HC issuing a Voluntary Guidance to manufacturers that included suggestions to industry to do regular testing of both the raw milk and the cheese and that “Manufacturers should consider labelling their products with the words ‘made from raw or unpasteurized milk’ on the front panel display and/or in the list of the ingredients.”

The Guidance document seeks feedback from stakeholders before developing new “policy and/or regulatory options.” Here’s mine, again: stop the bureaucratic dithering and do what the Americans, Brits and Europeans have already done – make it mandatory for all manufacturers to label their raw milk cheeses. It’s useless, as they say, to try to reason someone out of something they didn’t reason themselves into, so if we can’t stop people from consuming raw milk and its products, then let’s at least ensure that it is not consumed unknowingly particularly by children, the elderly or expectant mothers. HC now requires unpasteurized juice to be labelled. Who’s against mandatory labelling of raw milk cheese?

Salmonella cases spike: California health types warn against illegally made Mexican-style cheese 

California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith today warned the public about the danger of consuming illegally manufactured Mexican-style soft cheeses, often sold by street vendors. 

quesofresco-complete“These cheeses are often made with raw, unpasteurized milk and under unsanitary conditions,” said Dr. Smith. “We are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of reported Salmonella cases, particularly in the Hispanic community.” 

Since November 2015, at least 50 patients have been infected with three different strains of Salmonella. No deaths have been reported, but hospitalization has been required in several cases. The investigation into these cases is ongoing, but several patients have reported consuming potentially unpasteurized Mexican-style cheese purchased from street vendors before they became ill. 

Love of goats is the secret to award winning cheese, NZ farmers say

Australians make fun of New Zealanders and their sheep.

goat.cheese.nzGoat love provides a whole new canvas.

Love is the secret ingredient for John and Jeanne van Kuyk​, who own Aroha Organic Goat Cheese and took home the Milk Test NZ champion cheesemaker award at the New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards on March 1.

They also took home the 180 degrees champion goat cheese award for the second year in a row for their Aroha Raw Milk Jubilee which achieved a rare score of 100.

“We care so much about the girls and what we do. We know every single one,” Jeanne van Kuyk said.

“We’ve always loved goats. The love for goats has brought it all on.”

It’s the girls that make the cheese so good, she said.

7 sickened, 1 death in 2014 Listeria outbreak; cheese plant fined $100k

A federal judge has ordered a Delaware cheese company that was the source of a listeria outbreak in 2014 to pay a $100,000 fine.

roos-foods-logo-300x187The judge issued the sentence Thursday after Roos Foods Inc. pleaded guilty in January to a misdemeanor criminal charge. The company also agreed to a permanent injunction prohibiting it from distributing any food products unless it proves compliance with federal food safety laws.

Court records show that federal investigators found significant sanitation problems at Roos Foods after a listeria outbreak killed one person in California and sickened seven others in the Maryland suburbs of Washington.

The Kenton-based company ceased operations in 2014 after the Food and Drug Administration suspended its food facility registration. It has not reopened.

Blessed are the cheesemakers, as lawmakers, question FDA standards for raw milk cheese

Many of Wisconsin’s federal lawmakers signed a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration questioning recently finalized standards limiting the level of non-toxigenic E. coli allowed in raw milk cheese.

cheesemakersThese lawmakers and some producers are worried about how the stricter standard could affect cheese production.

Non-toxigenic E. coli is not a bacteria that causes illness but it’s measured to test the overall cleanliness of cheese.

Before a 2009 rewrite of the regulations, the FDA allowed up to 10,000 colony-forming units per gram. But now they’ll take disciplinary action if a product contains over 10 units of the bacteria in three out of five samples.

Licensed cheesemaker Marieke Penterman makes gouda from raw milk. She said unpasteurized cheese has to age longer to meet those standards.

“That’s going to have a tremendous (economic) impact for a lot of smaller cheese creameries like us that cannot afford to have so much cheese, aging cheese in our inventory,” she said.