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Listeria: Cheese Enemy #1

For cheesemakers, there are some things that just come with the job: farm animals (win), large vats of milk (yum), extensive sanitation practices (eh), and bacteria (yay! but also, yuck).

In most cases, bacteria is what makes cheese, cheese—from the cultures to the aging, we can’t have cheese without bacteria. But, in some cases, a mean, harmful, doesn’t-play-nice-in-the-creamery bacteria rears its ugly microscopic head and messes up everything.

The bacteria-bully we’re talking about is listeria. Listeria is tough: it can survive in the cold, find its way into food production from various sources, and, in some cases, it can be fatal). It isn’t only an issue with cheese, either. We’ve seen plenty of recent attacks on ice cream, even some on smoked salmon (definitely not a dairy product), and now it’s making headlines with cheese too. Ahhh, not the cheese!

As of June 18, 2015, Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery in Sonoma County, California, has voluntarily recalled their 3-pound Raw Goat Milk Feta in Brine buckets (lot code #14000610) due to the presence of listeria.

At this time the recall only includes the 3 pound, wholesale buckets sold to three distributors at four stores: the Cowgirl Creamery shops in Point Reyes Station and the San Francisco Ferry Building, the Good Earth Natural Foods in Fairfax, and at Bom Dia Market in San Francisco.

In their official statement, Redwood Hill Farms says,

“Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery is not aware of any illness complaints to date in connection with this notice and lot code #14000610. The recalled product is 3lb Raw Goat Milk Feta in Brine buckets—no other products are included in this recall. This product is a wholesale item and was sold to three distributors in Northern California.

“While this product is a wholesale item sold by Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery, four store locations in Marin and San Francisco Counties (only) have purchased and re-packed this feta in clear, deli-style containers. The containers may be labeled Raw Goat Milk Feta – Redwood Hill on the store’s own labels and dated between April 28th and June 18th, 2015.”

As a spokesperson for Redwood Hill Farm told the Food Poison Journal (such a mystery what they report on), all products have been pulled from shelves, and stores have put up signs to alert customers. They are urging customers to discard the product and contact the store for a refund.

Since listeria has only been detected in the three pound wholesales buckets at the four stores, we hope this will clean up quickly and not cause another dairy black market.

Feature Photo Credit: “Lactobacillus Bacteria” by Royalty Stock Photo | Shutterstock

Amy Fukuizumi

Amy loves few things more than writing and cheese. As a testament to these loves, she drove across the country to join culture: the word on cheese. Her goal as Social Media Manager is to make the world (digitally) feel this love (and 'Like' it a lot).