The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) says there have been several reports of E. coli infection linked to Sally Jackson cheese, which are all made from unpasteurized, raw milk. The Agency adds that Sally Jackson produce was processed under conditions that considerably raise the likelihood of contamination.
Restaurants and caterers have been urged not to serve the recalled cheeses, or use any of them as ingredients for food preparation. Distributors should stop distributing them immediately.
What is E. coli 0157:H7 infection?E. coli 0157:H7 infection causes diarrhea, abdominal pains (cramps) and a general feeling of malaise which can last up to four days. In some cases symptoms can be much more severe and may last a long time. Doctors can make an accurate diagnosis by taking a culture of a stool sample.
The majority of infected patients make a full recovery within a week. Some, however, can develop a more severe infection. As the diarrhea starts to get better the patient can develop HUS (hemolytic uremic syndrome), a kind of kidney failure. HUS, if it does occur, tends to do so with very young children and elderly individuals.
HUS signs and symptoms may include fatigue, irritability, fever, abdominal pain, unexplained bruising, nosebleeds, bleeding from the mouth, decreased urination, and swelling (hands, feet, face, or the whole body). Anybody with these symptoms should get emergency medical help.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture and the FDA are inspecting the facility. Inspectors say they have identified "conditions that create a significant risk of contamination."
Over the last couple of months, eight people have been reported sick with E. coli 0157:H7 infection in Washington and Oregon.
An FDA communiqué writes:
"Of the seven patients for whom food history is available, one person reported consuming Sally Jackson cheese, and four others may have consumed Sally Jackson cheese. Three of the four ill persons who may have consumed Sally Jackson cheese ate cheese from two restaurants serving Sally Jackson cheese, while the fourth tasted several cheeses that may have included Sally Jackson cheese. The remaining two patients consumed artisanal cheeses but do not know if it was Sally Jackson cheese. Analysis of cheese samples is currently in progress. This warning is to protect consumers until more information becomes available."
The FDA informs that unpasteurized milk may carry Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria, which cause a considerable number of foodborne illnesses in the United States. Raw milk bacteria may be especially hazardous for pregnant mothers, elderly people, individuals with weakened immune systems, and children.
Sally Jackson cheeses are known to have been distributed or subdistributed in California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia and Washington.
The FDA says Sally Jackson Cheese is voluntarily recalling its products and is informing all its customers directly.