Kansas consumers warned about homemade raw milk cheese

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 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.