A listeriosis outbreak has been associated with soft cheese products distributed by Karoun Dairies, Inc. of San Fernando, California, according to the CDC. The FDA has now found the outbreak strain of Listeria in the facility that made the cheese, which is owned by Central Valley Cheese Inc.
Prompted by the outbreak and after the recall, investigators collected environmental samples from the Central Valley Cheese Inc. facility and testing was done. Listeria bacteria was found in some of the samples, and whole genome sequencing tests on two of the samples showed they closely resembled strains cultured from those who became ill.
“Listeria is the most deadly of the foodborne bacteria. Thus, producers should have a heightened level of vigilance to keep it out of American’s food chain.”
The finding of Listeria in the cheese plant is significant because DNA testing has revealed that the strain found in samples taken from the plant closely resembles the outbreak strain of Listeria that sickened 24 people in 9 states: California (14), Colorado (1), Illinois (1), Massachusetts (2), Michigan (1), New York (2), Ohio (1), Tennessee (1), and Washington (1). This is “smoking gun” evidence that the cheese is the source of the outbreak of illnesses. Tests results from samples collected from the same facility in 2010 also found strains of Listeria bacteria that were highly related to the outbreak strains.
The 2010 test results are important because this outbreak involves illnesses contracted from 2010 to the summer of 2015. To date 24 people in 9 states are part of this outbreak: California (14), Colorado (1), Illinois (1), Massachusetts (2), Michigan (1), New York (2), Ohio (1), Tennessee (1), and Washington (1).
If you were sickened in 2010 or at any time by this cheese product, you may have the right to sue both Karoun Dairies, Inc. and Central Valley Cheese Inc. As you may know, there is a limited time in which to file a lawsuit, generally less than 5 years. But in this case, the cause of the illnesses was not known until 2015, so it is likely that the “statute of limitations” will not start running until this year.