February 19, 2008
Kansas Department of Agriculture
(785) 296-2653 phone
Consumers warned about homemade cheese sold in Garden City
TOPEKA - The Kansas Department of Agriculture is warning consumers in the Garden City area not to eat soft white cheese sold in unmarked packages because it came from an unapproved source and may be contaminated with Salmonella.
Food safety inspectors found the cheese being sold last week at Panaderia Real, 107 North Jennie Barker Road, in Garden City. The cheese was destroyed after testing confirmed that it was made from unpasteurized milk and that it was contaminated with Salmonella.
An investigation into the cheese's origin revealed that it was being made in the home of Guadalupe Valadez, who is not licensed to manufacture food. To be licensed, Valadez would need to use a commercial kitchen to make the cheese and to undergo routine food safety inspections.
Valadez was selling the cheese to neighbors, to coworkers at Tyson Foods and to two stores, Panaderia Real on Jennie Barker Road and at Panaderia Alexis at 146 Stevens Avenue. She reports she had been making and selling the cheese for about a month.
The cheese was sold in hand-formed balls and disc shapes that were wrapped in plastic. The packages had no identifying marks to indicate where the cheese was made.
Consumers who purchased the cheese should throw it away.
Consuming food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. Salmonella infections can be life-threatening, especially to those with weak immune systems, such as infants, the elderly and persons with HIV infection or undergoing chemotherapy. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within eight to 72 hours. Additional symptoms may be chills, headache, nausea and vomiting that can last up to seven days.
To learn more about Salmonella and salmonellosis, visit http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Salmonella_Questions_&_Answers/index.asp.
The illegal cheese was identified during a two-month pilot project to monitor the safety of imported and domestically produced foods offered for sale in Kansas. It was launched by the Kansas Department of Agriculture late last month. Inspectors are collecting up to 10 products from each facility they visit as part of the project. Products are tested for Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes and E. coli, the most common causes of foodborne illness.
The Kansas Department of Agriculture promotes public safety by regulating the production and sale of meat, poultry, dairy products and eggs, and by licensing and inspecting grocery stores, restaurants in grocery stores, food processors and manufacturers, food wholesalers and warehouses, convenience stores, mobile ice cream vendors, and food vending machine companies and dealers.