Listeria Event Triggers Nine Cheese Recalls

By Kevin T. Higgins, Managing Editor

Mar 03, 2017

Listeria monocytogenes contamination triggered 18 of the 43 FDA recalls announced in February, including a dozen tied to cheese. Nine of those recalls involved branded and private label cheese produced by Deutsch Kase Haus in Middlebury, Ind.

Founded in 1979 to provide an outlet for milk from Amish dairy farmers, Deutsch Kase Haus was sold in November to Michigan Milk Producers Association by Guggisberg Cheese Inc., Millersburg, Ohio. Recalled cheeses were produced over a five-month period, beginning Sept. 1.

The Deutsch Kase issue came to light during in-store testing by public health inspectors in a food store in Trenton, Tenn.

Deutsch Kase processes 400,000 lbs. of milk per day. The plant has an annual finished-goods capacity of 20 million lbs.

At least two customers—Sargento and Dietz & Watson—have severed their relationships with the company as a result of the recalls.

Colby and Colby Jack cheeses accounted for most of the recalled product, though MDS Foods Inc., Massillon, Ohio, extended its recall to include Muenster, Monterey jack, provolone and other styles. MDS extended its recall to include cheeses sourced from other cheesemakers but packaged on the same lines at its Tullahoma, Tenn., facility.

The first two recalls were announced Feb. 10 and involved store-branded cheeses sold at Meijer Inc. service delis and packaged cheeses sliced at Sargento’s Plymouth, Wis., plant. Four days later, Guggisberg issued its recall of cheeses distributed to retail stores in seven states.

Sixteen more states were affected three days later when Dutch Valley Food Distributors Inc. recalled product packaged at its Schlabach, Ohio, facility. A week later, supermarkets in Arizona that took delivery of cheeses distributed by Lakeview Cheese in Las Vegas, Nev., were affected. Two more western states were caught up in the recall Feb. 28 when Yoke’s Fresh Markets withdrew store-brand cheeses from stores in Washington and Idaho.

Production has been suspended at the Middlebury plant. “It will be resumed as soon as we are confident we can provide a safe product to our customers,” according to a spokesman for the owner. “We take food safety very seriously.”

Deutsch Kase has won numerous national and international awards for its cheese, including a 2002 World Cheesemakers championship and a 2003 U.S. Cheesemakers citation. The Middlebury plant is SQF Level 2 certified and employs 55. More than 70,000 individuals visit the on-site store each year.

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