Chapel Hill Creamery recalls all the cheese after link to salmonellosis illnesses

Cheese is probably my favorite food. Today’s meals included a bit of goat cheese with a breakfast taco and cheddar on a roast turkey wrap. We’re international when it comes to cheese, eating stuff from North Carolina, New York, France, Belgium –  and procure them from traditional grocery stores, a couple of local cheese shops or the farmers market.

All food can be contaminated; all food is at risk for foodborne illness.Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 5.45.13 PM

Eating is a trust-based event. I trust that the folks I buy stuff from/who make it are managing hazards so I don’t have to worry about it.

A local creamery, whose products are mainstays at the places I shop, according to ABC 11, recalled what all of their products. From the text it sounds like epi has linked the cheesemakers to a yet-to-be public number of illnesses.

Chapel Hill Creamery in Chapel Hill has announced a voluntary recall of all cheese products due to a possible connection with a recent Salmonella outbreak.

Health officials said recent cases of Salmonella were identified in people who had consumed Chapel Hill Creamery products.

The company said the products involved in the voluntary recall include all codes, packages, and sizes of the following varieties of cheese manufactured by Chapel Hill Creamery and distributed through retail locations, Farmer’s Markets, or restaurants throughout North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia:

  • Quark
  • Danziger
  • Swiss
  • Paneer
  • Calvander
  • Hot Farmers Cheese
  • Dairyland Farmers Cheese
  • Smoked Mozzarella
  • Fresh Mozzarella
  • Burrata
  • Hickory Grove
  • Carolina Moon
  • Smoked Farmers Cheese
  • New Moon
  • Pheta

“Although there is not yet a definitive link between the CHC cheese and the illnesses, there is enough evidence to implicate the cheese and we are asking customers to not consume these cheeses or use them in food service,” said Portia McKnight, co-founder of the Creamery.

Salmonella and cheese are not new to each other. Back in 1984 hundreds of hosers got sick after eating contaminated cheese. In 1998 more Canadians were ill after contaminated cheese in Lunchables led to over 800 salmonellosis cases. A Louisiana cheese maker was linked to a cluster of illnesses in 2012. Soft cheeses were identified by California officials as a likely source of salmonellosis earlier this year. There are lots others.

There are hard cheeses, semi hard cheeses and soft cheeses on Chapel Hill Creamery recall list.

Lots of questions on this one: Is pasteurization a factor or Is this a raw milk cheese issue? Are there concerns with handling during packaging? Aging? Why are all the products being recalled.

From Chapel Hill Creamery’s website:

We milk and make cheese year-round. We’re classified as a farmstead cheesemaking facility, meaning that we use milk only from our own herd and not from any other sources. Our delicious Farmhouse Cheese is hand-crafted in small batches, producing 6 to 8 different varieties from fresh to aged. 

Making cheese is a blend of art and science with a dose of intuition. It is physically demanding, but always miraculous. 
We monitor the PH of the product throughout the cheese make and keep records for ourselves and for our inspectors from the Department of Agriculture. 

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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.