Raw Milk Cheesemaker Pleads Guilty to Listeria Outbreak Charges

Vulto Creamery and founder Johannes Vulto pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a deadly Listeria outbreak linked to raw milk cheese. Sentencing will be scheduled at a later date.

2017 Deadly Vulto Creamery Listeria Outbreak

In 2017, Vulto Creamery cheeses made from unpasteurized milk were identified as the source of a Listeria outbreak that sickened eight people including a newborn baby. Two people died. 

Pregnant mothers and babies are also at very high risk, as pregnant women are 20 times more likely than other people to contract Listeria infections.

Symptoms of a Listeria infection include:

  • High fever, stiff neck, and other muscle aches
  • Headache, loss of balance, confusion or convulsions
  • Upset stomach or diarrhea

The Outbreak Investigation

Whole genome sequencing tests showed the patients were all infected by the same strain indicating they were exposed to the same source of contamination. The six patients (or their families) who were interviewed by health officials all said they had eaten soft cheese before they became ill. Vulto cheese was sold at stores where they purchased cheese.

Investigators found the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes bacteria in samples taken from three intact wheels of Ouleout cheese collected from Vulto Creamery during a joint inspection by the New York Division of Milk Control and Dairy Services and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Connecticut Department of Public Health found the same strain in leftover cheeses collected from the home of one of the deceased patients.

On March 7, 2017, Vulto Creamery recalled all lots of Ouleout, Miranda, Heinennellie, and Willowemoc soft wash-rind raw milk cheeses.

Vulto Creamery Ouleout Cheese Recal

Permanently Enjoined

One year after the outbreak,  U.S. District Court Judge Brenda Sannes permanently enjoined Vulto Creamery LLC from making or distributing cheese. A March 19, 2018, complaint filed at the FDA’s request, alleged that the creamery and its founder violated the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act by making and distributing ready-to-eat cheeses contaminated with Listeria.

Johannes Vulto and his company, Vulto Creamery LLC, each pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of causing the introduction of adulterated food into interstate commerce. Vulto oversaw operations at Vulto Creamery manufacturing facility in Walton, New York, including those relating to sanitation and environmental monitoring. In pleading guilty, Vulto and Vulto Creamery admitted that between December 2014 and March 2017, they caused the shipment in interstate commerce of adulterated cheese.

Guilty Plea

On March 5, 2024, Johannes Vulto and Vulto Creamery each pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of causing the introduction of adulterated food into interstate commerce.


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Category: Food Poisoning, Listeria
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