Cheese’s high level of contaminant fuels worries
By Mike DeDoncker
Posted Apr 16, 2009 @
confirmed “gross contamination” in samples of cheese believed to have
sickened at least three people in Winnebago County.
What you can do
believe you have been infected by eating illegally manufactured cheese, call
your doctor and the Winnebago County Health Department’s
communicable-diseases section, 815-720-4061.
report vendors illegally selling uninspected cheeses by calling 815-720-4100.
Department reported three confirmed cases Tuesday of Campylobacter jejuni,
one of the most common causes of diarrheal illness in the U.S.
Spokeswoman Sue Fuller said Wednesday that results of testing at the Illinois
Department of Public Health laboratory also confirmed Listeria and fecal
coliform contamination in the illegally manufactured cheese.
Tests to link the Campylobacter infection to the cheese are more complicated
and may not be completed until next week.
“We did find out that the Listeria is Listeria monocytogenes, one of the more
severe types,” Fuller said, “and the fecal coliform is quite high, 150,000
colonies per gram, so this is considered gross contamination.”
Dr. Robert Bales, the agency’s medical director, said Campylobacter jejune is
usually not a severe ailment for otherwise healthy adults, “but we always
worry about diarrhea in children and the elderly because of the dehydration
associated with it. Listeria is a different problem. In adults, it causes
diarrhea, and we do not have any confirmed cases of Listeria.
“The problem we need to emphasize is that, in pregnant women, Listeria can
cross over to the baby through the placenta and then can cause problems with
Four other cases are being investigated in connection with the cheese, and
Fuller said health inspectors and food sanitation personnel checked 20
locations in the county Tuesday.
The cheese, which is white, shaped into rounds and packaged in unmarked
food-storage bags, was usually sold out of cars and trucks in parking lots
near such locations as churches or markets, but inspectors found the cheese
at one unidentified retail outlet.
Fuller said its operators probably would not be fined, but they would receive
an education program.
Thirty to 50 other locations were being checked Wednesday.