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

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.

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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.