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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Sally Jackson Cheese recalls all cheese due to link to E. coli O157:H7 Illnesses

In what has hit the dozen mark of raw milk and/or raw milk cheese outbreak and/or recall 2010, this press release landed in my inbox as I was packing to head home to Seattle from Washington D. C.  According to a press release by Sally Jackson Cheese of Oroville, Washington, the company is recalling all cheese products, including cow, goat, and sheep, because they may be contaminated with Escherichia coli O157:H7 bacteria (E. coli O157:H7).

cheeses4.jpgSally Jackson brand cheeses made from raw cow, goat, and sheep milk were distributed nationwide. The cheeses were distributed to restaurants, distributors, and retail stores.

The three types of cheese are all soft raw milk cheeses in various sized pieces. The products do not have labels or codes. The cow and sheep milk cheeses are wrapped in chestnut leaves, the goat cheese is wrapped in grape leaves and all are secured with twine. The cheeses may have an outer wrapping of waxed paper.

The products have been identified as a possible source of E. coli infections currently under investigation.

The problem was revealed as a result of follow-up by the FDA of a report of an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections. The notification came from the Washington State Department of Agriculture, Washington Department of Health, and the Oregon Public Health Division.

It has been a busy year for E. coli, Listeria, Salmonella and Campylobacter in milk and cheese (mostly raw) and it is not over yet – recalls, outbreaks or the year.  You can download the entire chart with links.  I need to update the chart.  Also, here is a link to stores that received the cheese and inspection reports on the Cheese Makers.

  • John Jackson

    Marler; please note that this recall is a VOLUNTARY RECALL. It is irresponsible at best to print an article with a headline stating that there is a link between Sally Jackson Cheese and E. Coli. At this point, the FDA has CORRELATED Sally Jackson Cheese with three of these illnesses but has NOT POSITIVELY LINKED THIS PARTICULAR STRAIN OF E. COLI TO SALLY JACKSON CHEESE via laboratory testing. Sally Jackson Cheese has chosen to issue this recall for the safety of consumers. This is very different from a mandatory recall which would be issued if this definite link existed. Please consider your headlines more carefully.

  • Mr. Jackson, I assume no relation? FDA does NOT have mandatory recall authority. ALL recalls are voluntary. I am quoting from your press release regarding the recall and information from various Health Departments that have epidemiologically linked your cheese to eight illnesses. The headline is accurate.

  • John Jackson

    Mr. Marler, of course you are correct. The headline is accurate but is intentionally misleading in that it implies that this positive link has been established. It has not been. If you are seeking to sensationalize this in the interest of generating business for yourself I can see the point in doing this. However, consider the damage you inflict by intentionally twisting something by wordsmithing. If you are going to report something, do it without twisting it for your benefit please. Incidentally, this is NOT my press release (you say “I am quoting from your press release…”.

  • John Jackson

    Mr. Marler,
    Perhaps you will find this FDA press release helpful. This tells the story as it is currently understood.
    http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm237381.htm

  • I don’t want to speak for John, but I believe he is Sally and Roger Jackson’s son.
    As I understand the situation, the FDA has the DNA footprint for the e coli that made people sick. They have swabbed the Jackson’s facility, but they have not completely cultured or tested the swabs as of today (12/17). So there is not yet any definitive match between the e coli that sickened people – and Sally Jackson’s farm.
    Also not being mentioned in news reports is the fact that there are at least 7-8 cheeses from farms all over the country under suspicion as the source of the e coli outbreak.

  • Mr. Jackson, your comment “seeking to sensationalize this in the interest of generating business for yourself ” shows how little you know about me or my motives. I have just landed from DC where I have been working on helping create a safer food supply.
    How would you like it if I used the inspection reports (attached to another post) to impugn the Jackson’s integrity? Perhaps claim that the conditions that they made cheese under were so bad that they intentionally poisoned 8 people? Three States with the best health departments in the nation have linked these cheeses to illnesses. Where is the concern for the customers? The recall was voluntary, because that is all we have in this country. This is the Jackson’s press release that was put out on the FDA website.

  • John Jackson

    Mr. Marler: you HAVE used the inspection reports linked to another post to impugn the Jackson’s integrity and in doing so have implicated Sally Jackson Cheeses in intentionally poisoning 8 people. You are a lawyer and you understand the concept of libel I assume. Again, there does not at this time exist a definite link between Sally Jackson Cheese and these illnesses. Until this link definitely exists, I strongly urge you to reconsider your statements to that effect. Sally Jackson Cheese has shown concern for the customers by pursuing this voluntary recall after being informed by the FDA. You are speculating at this point. Neither you or anyone else has the benefit of all of the facts at this point.

  • Mr. Jackson, and I assume you are a relation to the Cheese Jacksons. The inspection reports speak for themselves. Please download them and read them yourself. Please contact the Health Departments in Minnesota, Oregon, Washington and Vermont yourself too and discuss with them the link to your parent’s (I understand they are your parents) cheese. Please have your lawyer contact me directly if you intend to threaten me in anyway with claims of libel. You sound so much like the Cargills, ConAgras, McDonalds of the world. Give me a break.

  • John Jackson

    Mr. Marler, it is obvious that you have absolutely no comprehension of who you are dealing with. I understand that you would like to represent yourself as being representative of “the every day joe” and I assure you that you ARE NOT doing so in the same way that someone like Glenn Beck is not. Allow me to educate you since you have obviously not bothered to do so on your own behalf. Sally Jackson Cheese is a 2 person operation that produces something on the order of 20 pounds of cheese per week. You are attempting to assert that you are squaring off with the giants of industry who have nothing in mind except the dollar they make from the hard working individual. This is so incredibly far from the truth as to be laughable. I am struck by the disregard for intellect in your readers. You have taken what started out as a simple disagreement in use of linguistics into the gutter.

  • No, I am dealing with you. I understand that you are the Jackson’s son and I can understand why you are coming to their defense. I am sorry that this has happened to them, as I am also sorry that at least eight people are now likely ill (at least one hospitalized) from eating that cheese. Just because they are a two person operation, does not mean they can produce a food product for human consumption under the conditions shown in the reports. I absolutely know that your parents are not ConAgra, etc. My point, which you appear to have missed, is that the excuses you are making are the same ones I hear all the time from mass producers when there is an outbreak that they want to deny is their fault. I am talking to you, not your parents, who I understand are very nice people. But, you know, just because they are nice, does not mean that they can sell cheese under those conditions.

  • John Jackson

    Mr. Marler, again you are asserting something that is not supported by fact and I assure you I did not miss your point. Again, I urge you to wait until this fact is established before attacking as you are so obviously inclined to do. Obviously, being nice does not preclude one from responsiblity for harm incurred on another. Your pointing this out does not prove that you are an avenging angel as you make yourself out to be. There are no excuses being made. The recall is proof of this. I assure you that Sally Jackson herself is devastated by this and it doesn’t help that ambulance chasers are waiting in the wings to benefit from this significant problem. She is not selling cheese at this time and is cooperating fully with the FDA and CDC in finding a fact based conclusion. You state definitively that eight people are likely ill from eating her cheese. This is ABSOLUTELY not supported by fact. Whatever you feel you stand to gain from this is not worth it, I assure you.

  • Melanie

    Mr. Marler; Your statement “How would you like it if I used the inspection reports (attached to another post) to impugn the Jackson’s integrity? Perhaps claim that the conditions that they made cheese under were so bad that they intentionally poisoned 8 people?” sounds kind of like a threat. And your statement “Just because they are a two person operation, does not mean they can produce a food product for human consumption under the conditions shown in the reports.” is a little (a lot) unfounded. In reading Mr. Jacksons remarks, I can’t find where he is implying that at all. It sounds like he is merely suggesting that you seem to be implying that Sally Jackson Cheese is a corporation on the scale of the” Cargills, ConAgras, McDonalds of the world. Give me a break.” And I hadn’t detected any sarcasm until your posts, which sounds to me like a tactic to make people mad and start something. Mr. Jackson seemed to be, of course, defending his family’s business, but he was also merely asking for fact-based reporting. I wonder why you didn’t mention the other cheese makers under investigation in your headline…
    I’m curious as to why you ‘assumed no relation’ and then said in the very same post ” I am quoting from your press release…”
    My first thought when I saw this article was “Wow that’s a way to drum up business…”
    And your question “Where is the concern for the customers? ” seems to have already been answered by the recall itself. Sounds to me like the company is showing concern for the customers and someone else is trying to scandalize it.
    Shoot, I spilled my coffee and burned myself while typing this. I was distracted because of your article. I am going to sue you for that burn….. See? I can do it too…. (sarcasm, not the suing but it still shows a point…but hey, it’s a living, right?)
    And you spelled “Link” wrong in your headline…

  • Here is the most recent news from the FDA:
    http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm237381.htm
    Fast Facts
    • Sally Jackson Cheese of Oroville, Wash., has agreed to voluntarily recall all of its cheeses.
    • All Sally Jackson cheeses on the market should be avoided because the products were processed under conditions that create a significant risk of contamination, and because Sally Jackson cheeses have been identified as one possible source of several cases of Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157:H7 infections. All Sally Jackson cheese is made from unpasteurized raw milk.
    • Consumers who have any Sally Jackson cheese should not eat it. Restaurant operators and any other food-service operations that have any Sally Jackson cheese should not serve it. Distributors should stop distribution. To prevent people or animals, including wild animals, from eating the cheese, cheese that is not returned to the place of purchase should be disposed of in a closed plastic bag placed in a sealed trash can.
    • People infected with E. coli O157:H7 can develop diarrhea (often bloody) and abdominal cramps for about 3-4 days, after ingesting the organism, but some illnesses may last longer and are more severe. Infection is usually diagnosed by culture of a stool sample. While most people recover within a week, some may develop a severe infection. A type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) can begin as the diarrhea is improving; this can occur among persons of any age but is most common in children under 5 years old and the elderly. Signs and symptoms of HUS may include: fever, abdominal pain; pale skin tone; fatigue and irritability; small, unexplained bruises or bleeding from the nose and mouth; decreased urination and swelling of the face, hands, feet, or entire body. Persons who experience these symptoms and believe they are at risk for HUS should seek emergency medical care immediately.
    • FDA is inspecting the facility in collaboration with an investigation being conducted by the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA). This inspection has identified conditions that create a significant risk of contamination.
    What is the Problem?
    The FDA, in cooperation with other state and local public health agencies, is warning consumers not to eat any Sally Jackson cheeses. The products were processed under conditions that create a significant risk of contamination of the unpasteurized raw milk and finished cheese, and Sally Jackson cheeses have been identified as one possible source of eight cases of E. coli O157 infections in an ongoing investigation.
    Earlier this month, FDA was informed of an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections by the Oregon Public Health Department (OPHD), WSDA, and the Washington Department of Health (WDOH). An investigation by these three state agencies and Public Health – Seattle and King County has identified eight ill persons with the outbreak strain who were ill between September and November. 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.
    FDA completed its inspection today and issued a Form 483, Inspectional Observations, which is not a final agency determination regarding compliance. The inspectional observations include problems related to the sanitation of the facility, its employees, equipment, and utensils as well as problems with facility construction and maintenance.
    Unpasteurized raw milk in raw milk cheese is obtained from cows, sheep, or goats and is not pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria. This raw, unpasteurized milk can carry dangerous bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria, which are responsible for causing numerous foodborne illnesses. These harmful bacteria can seriously affect the health of anyone who drinks raw milk or eats cheese and other foods made from raw milk. The bacteria in raw milk can be especially dangerous to pregnant women, children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems.
    What are the Symptoms of Illness/Injury?
    Most people who develop illnesses caused by E. coli O157:H7 develop diarrhea (often bloody) and abdominal cramps for about 3-4 days, after ingesting the organism. Some illnesses may last longer and are more severe. Infection is usually diagnosed by culture of a stool sample. While most people recover within a week, some may develop a severe infection. A type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) can begin as the diarrhea is improving; this can occur among persons of any age but is most common in children under 5 years old and the elderly. Signs and symptoms of HUS may include: fever, abdominal pain; pale skin tone; fatigue and irritability; small, unexplained bruises or bleeding from the nose and mouth; decreased urination and swelling of the face, hands, feet, or entire body. Persons who experience these symptoms and believe they are at risk for HUS should seek emergency medical care immediately.
    What Do Consumers Need To Do?
    Based on currently available information and as a precaution to safeguard public health, FDA, OPHD and WSDA recommend that consumers not eat any Sally Jackson cheeses. To prevent people or animals, including wild animals, from eating the cheese, cheese that is not returned to the place of purchase should be disposed of in a closed plastic bag placed in a sealed trash can.
    Where is it Distributed?
    Sally Jackson cheeses have been distributed in several places, listed below. This list may not be complete. Numerous resellers can be found on the internet. The products include cow, sheep and goat cheeses produced by Sally Jackson Cheese of Oroville, Wash. The products do not have labels or codes, and are wrapped in plain brown paper, twine and either grape or chestnut leaves.
    Places where Sally Jackson cheeses are known to have been distributed or subdistributed include:
    • California
    • Colorado
    • Connecticut
    • District of Columbia
    • Hawaii
    • Illinois
    • Massachusetts
    • Minnesota
    • Missouri
    • Montana
    • New York
    • Oregon
    • Pennsylvania
    • Rhode Island
    • Texas
    • Virginia
    • Washington

  • Curious George

    A correlation is a link. For example, you can say that there is a link between fast food and obesity. This is based on correlative data that shows regular fast food consumers tend to be overweight. There is also a link between lack of sleep among children and poor grades. Again, this is based on correlations. Thus, there is nothing deceptive about stating that the Sally Jackson Cheese recall is linked to E. coli O157:H7 illnesses. That is, after all, the reason why the company recalled their cheese.
    By the way, the statements in the original post were: “may be contaminated,” “possible source of E. coli,” and “under investigation.”