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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Missouri Attorney General seeks destruction of Morningland Dairy cheese

Screen shot 2010-10-30 at 9.29.34 PM.pngAnnounced through a press release, Attorney General Chris Koster has asked the Howell County Circuit Court to require Morningland Dairy, located in Mountain View, to destroy contaminated cheese products that were produced at the facility between January 1 and August 26, 2010.

Morningland Dairy makes cheese products and sells them nationwide. The state of California notified the Missouri State Milk Board in August that samples of Morningland Dairy’s cheese products tested positive for the bacterial pathogens Listeria Monocytogenes and Staphylococcus Aureus. The company voluntarily recalled all of the cheese it produced from January 1 through August 26. 

After the recall, Morningland Dairy, under the supervision of the State Milk Board, sent 14 samples of Morningland Dairy’s cheese to a St. Louis laboratory to be tested. All 14 samples tested positive for Staphylococcus Aureus and 6 of the samples tested positive for Listeria Monocytogenes. The State Milk Board on October 1 condemned all cheese products the company manufactured between January 1 and August 26 and ordered that they be destroyed. Morningland Dairy refused to destroy the condemned cheese.

“Testing in California and Missouri confirms that the cheese produced during the January 1 to August 26 timeframe is contaminated with dangerous pathogens,” Koster said. “The safety of Missouri consumers is paramount. Because this company refuses to destroy the contaminated product we are asking the court to order them to do so.”

Koster said he is asking the court to issue a preliminary and permanent injunction ordering Morningland to destroy the condemned cheese and prohibiting the company from any further violations of the Missouri Dairy Law. Koster is also asking the court to require Morningland to follow established State Milk Board regulations for the production of cheese products and to pay the costs of the court proceedings.

Link to Morningland Dairy’s Response.

  • http://www.healthyfoodcoalition.org Harry Hamil

    Paragraph 3 seems to be damning evidence; however, there is no source cited for this information. There are no links to releases from the regulatory bodies involved. Also, when I reviewed the Morningland Dairy Response link, it was not mentioned clearly.
    Are the 14 samples described in paragraph 3, the samples that Morningland Dairy argues were not taken according to mandated procedures?
    Finally, how does the destruction of all of the recalled cheese increase “the safety of Missouri consumers?” It has been recalled and the dairy is closed. Why is this additional step needed? Is there evidence that Morningland Dairy is breaching the strictures of the recall? Of course, if it is all destroyed, then Morningland Dairy will find it more difficult to track down the alleged problems. Also, there won’t be any way for Morningland Dairy to fully defend itself against the allegations nor demonstrate as clearly errors on the part of the regulators.
    As a small business person who has experienced the retaliatory power of government on more than one occasion, I know one thing is certain: Morningland Dairy will pay a terrible financial and public relations price even if the state of MO is completely wrong. And it will have no reasonable chance to win a judgment that will cover even part of its damages.
    How is this due process of law?

  • http://www.marlerclark.com/wmarler.htm Bill Marler
  • Doc Mudd

    The product in question has been identified as contaminated, it has been recalled…but not destroyed! What would be the reasoning behind holding tainted product, if not to eventually re-introduce it into the market thereby risking the public health?
    The listeria-laden cheese cannot be safely disinfected or reclaimed as food. It’s garbage, destroy it and move on. Be more careful manufacturing in the future,,,and try to give a rip about the safety of paying customers.