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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

What the Hell Does Listeria in Cheese have to do with God, Guns and Slavery at the Estrella Family Creamery?

A few facts first: Listeria can cause fever, headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Healthy individuals may experience only short-term symptoms but those with weakened immune systems, including young children and frail or elderly people, are particularly at risk. Listeria infections can result in miscarriages or stillbirths among pregnant women. 100 to 1,000 Listeria cells can cause infection. The incubation period (time between ingestion and the onset of symptoms) for Listeria ranges from three to 70 days and averages 21 days.  The most recent data suggest that about 2,500 illnesses and 500 deaths are attributed to listeriosis in the United States annually. To my knowledge no illnesses have been reportedly linked to Estrella Family Creamery. A few more facts:

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On October 22 Kelli Estrella posted, in part, on the Estrella Family Creamery website:

… Last night at about 5:30 three cars pulled into the yard with FDA and Federal Marshals, alarming our kids. They posted a seizure order that named all cheeses on the property. …

On the 25th she posted, in part (the full text was deleted sometime after I posted the below, but I saved her full post – see comment 4 below):

… Thinking about how terrible it is that in this great nation we can hardly get something as basic as a simple unadulterated glass of health giving milk. And of course that’s not all the freedoms we’re losing, can you imagine they’re trying to take our guns away. The list goes on. …

… Am I supposed to keep pouring my heart and soul labors into these cheeses when gestapo like people are allowed to come in here and interrogate me? Pollute my cheese caves with their cameras and their testing tools and just their presence? …

… What’s happening to us isn’t just the result of some individual or agency that’s greedy and immoral. This is part of what’s already happening to our whole nation. …

… This is happening to us because we live in a nation that, as a whole, has rejected God’s commandments. Check out the 10 commandments found in Deut. 5:6-21 if you don’t know them. What part of “Do not kill” do we not understand? …

I think the question Ms Estrella is the correct one. Listeria can kill, and your products contain it. What part of “Do not kill” do YOU not understand?  And, no one is going to take your guns away.  However, we should take away your right to produce and sell contaminated products.  That is not slavery.  It is common sense.

  • JOE

    FDA…USDA….IT IS LIKE THE WAR ON DRUGS….NOT PROACTIVE TO STOP …BUT EFFICIENT ON A RAID !.

  • http://eFoodAlert.blogspot.com Phyllis E.

    Well said, Bill. The problem is that Ms. Estrella and other of like mind DO NOT BELIEVE that there is anything wrong with their products, and DO NOT BELIEVE anything that a government representative tells them.

    Phyllis

  • Mark

    I appreciate your perspective on the situation with Estrella Creamery. I found Kelli Estrella’s October 25 comments very revealing, but when I clicked on the link to her website I was surprised to see the text was deleted. Did you copy her full post? And, if so, would you post it on your website?
    I think many of Estrella Creamery’s customers will be surprised to learn that the FDA raid was “because we live in a nation that has rejected God’s commandments.”

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

    I saved it:
    10/25/2010
    Dear Friends,
    This morning I woke up at about 2:30 AM. Thinking about all this stuff. So many people are either heartbroken or outraged. Everyone asking “How could this happen? Why? What can we do?” And up until now I’ve mostly been thinking about my industry, and how can we get protection not just for us but Morningland dairy too- in the same predicament, and all the raw milk producers being harassed. Thinking about how terrible it is that in this great nation we can hardly get something as basic as a simple unadulterated glass of health giving milk. And of course that’s not all the freedoms we’re losing, can you imagine they’re trying to take our guns away. The list goes on…
    And when day breaks the phone will start ringing and, as a result of the efforts of our wonderful loyal customers, we’ll be talking to the media and others about what has happened here and then attempt to organize for this giant task of trying to keep our farm and business intact. The thought of it all is overwhelming to me. Even if we get enough support to fight this and pay our bills until we can start selling cheese again, will that be enough? Will I be still be subject to FDA inspectors? Am I supposed to keep pouring my heart and soul labors into these cheeses when gestapo like people are allowed to come in here and interrogate me? Pollute my cheese caves with their cameras and their testing tools and just their presence!?. Will anything really change? This year has been flat out brutal. In fact to be honest, this latest assault seems like small potatoes in comparison. Many, many times this year I have dreamed of a tiny humble little cabin somewhere in the hills where I could just keep a couple goats, I don’t need much! And whatever happens with this, our family will be fine, we will be content wherever we are. I have a giant treasure in my heart that no one can ever take away. Because my God has promised to never leave me or forsake me.
    And then, suddenly my whole perspective changed as I was thinking while still in bed. Of course, our pastor laid it all out for us just that day. ( well that’s yesterday now). What’s happening to us isn’t just the result of some individual or agency that’s greedy and immoral. This is part of what’s already happening to our whole nation. It’s exactly what we were warned against in the sermon we heard on Deuteronomy 4:15-43. It was after Moses had led the Isrealites out of Egypt and slavery, after they had seen so many miracles, and were just then about to enter the Promised Land. He strongly warned the people to take heed, lest they forget the covenant with their God and his commandments, and lest they fall into idolatry. They were warned that if they did so they would be scattered among the nations and go back to serving others.
    “You shall therefore keep His commandments which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which the LORD your God is giving you for all time” Deut. 4:40
    This is happening to us because we live in a nation that, as a whole, has rejected God’s commandments. Check out the 10 commandments found in Deut. 5:6-21 if you don’t know them. What part of “Do not kill” do we not understand? Everybody knows in their heart that the unborn are living human beings. Do we think that God doesn’t see the carnage? Do we really think that our nation will continue to be blessed if we ignore his laws? I would suggest that if our nation does not repent, we will soon be reduced to losing a whole lot more than special cheeses. We will be like the prodigal son who found himself reduced to eating out of a pig trough.
    Those of you praying for us, thank you, but pray for repentance in our nation. See how we are already falling into slavery.
    “But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart, and with all thy soul. When thou art in tribulation,and all these things are come upon thee…if thou turn to the Lord your God, and shalt be obedient to his voice; (For the Lord thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee”… Deut. 4:29-31
    It is not to late for our nation to be healed.
    Kelli Estrella

  • Greg Pallaske

    Perhaps the pastor can come out and lay his hands on the cheeses and cast out the devil (or the listeria)

  • Tami Parr

    I wondered if you or anyone at FSN can shed some light on the context of the Estrella plant closure. Yes, Estrella has had positive Listeria tests in the past…but what’s the FDA procecure/threshold for closing a cheese plant? From what I understand, the Estrellas have been working w/ the FDA for months on fixing the problems and they say they’ve had no recent positive listeria tests. Sure, listeria can kill, but what if the positive tests are in the past?

  • Sam

    This whacko makes (deadly) cheese. Imagine what will happen when our houses of congress are populated by similarly dangerous individuals!
    Keep your sense of humor Bill, and you really will be laughing all the way to the bank.

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

    Tami – that is a good question. I am not sure I know the answer. In the past when FDA or a State agency has shut down a facility it has been because of positive tests (product or environmental) or environmental conditions that can lead to contamination that have not been repaired. Hopefully, FDA or WA Dept of Ag will say something.

  • http://www.marlerblog.com Bill Marler

    Listeria clever at finding its way into bloodstream, causing sickness
    by bjs on October 25, 2010 in Blog Entry
    WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Pathogenic listeria tricks intestinal cells into helping it pass through those cells to make people ill, and, if that doesn’t work, the bacteria simply goes around the cells, according to a Purdue University study.
    Arun Bhunia, a professor of food science, and Kristin Burkholder, a former Purdue graduate student who is now a postdoctoral researcher in microbiology and immunology at the University of Michigan Medical School, found that listeria, even in low doses, somehow triggers intestinal cells to express a new protein, heat shock protein 60, that acts as a receptor for listeria. This may allow the bacteria to enter the cells in the intestinal wall and exit into a person’s bloodstream. Bhunia and Burkholder’s findings were published in the early online version of the journal Infection and Immunity.
    “It’s possible that host cells generate more of these proteins in order to protect themselves during a stressful event such as infection,” Burkholder said. “Our data suggest that listeria may benefit from this by actually using those proteins as receptors to enhance infection.”
    Listeria monocytogenes is a foodborne bacteria that can cause fever, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhea, as well as headaches, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions if it spreads to the nervous system. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it sickens about 2,500 and kills 500 people each year in the United States and primarily affects pregnant women, newborns, older adults and those with weakened immune systems.
    The findings suggest that listeria may pass between intestinal cells to sort of seep out of the intestines and into the bloodstream to cause infection.
    “That can expedite the infection,” Bhunia said.
    Measurable increases of the heat shock 60 protein were detected when listeria was introduced to cultured intestinal cells.
    Bhunia and Burkholder also introduced listeria to intestinal cells in the upper half of a dual-chamber container and counted the number of bacteria that passed through the cells and appeared in the lower chamber.
    The bacteria moved to the lower chamber faster than it is known to do when moving through cells, and did so even when a mutant form of the bacteria that do not invade the intestinal cells was used. This suggests the bacteria are moving around the cells, Bhunia said.
    “The infective dose is very low. Even 100 to 1,000 listeria cells can cause infection,” Bhunia said. “We believe that these mechanisms are what allow listeria to cause infections at such low levels.”
    Bhunia said he next would try to understand how listeria and the heat shock 60 protein interact and work to develop methods to protect intestinal cells from the bacteria. The Center for Food Safety Engineering at Purdue funded part of the research.
    Writer: Brian Wallheimer, 765-496-2050, bwallhei@purdue.edu
    Sources: Arun Bhunia, 765-494-5443, bhunia@purdue.edu
    Kristin Burkholder, 734-763-5639, kburkhol@umich.edu

  • http://www.goodnaturepublishing.com Tim Colman

    Hi from Seattle. I have been a customer of the Estrella dairy folks for several years.

    They are religious folks and they also make some great cheeses. Isn’t it possible that they could have some in tests that come back negative later?

    I am agnostic about God, but feel your characterization of them and ridicule is a bit over the top.

    And I am sure they do not intentionally try and add listeria to cheese.

    Good to find your blog — and know that I am kindred spirit to your focus on healthy food.

    These people are not Wal Mart or some corporation that is making a mistake intentionally to cut corners and make a profit.

    best ,

    Timothy

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

    Tim, I am not trying to ridicule them for their religious beliefs. I am only pointing out that they appear to not be dealing with the real food safety issues. They can produce listeria free cheese and you as a consumer should expect that. Just because they are not Wal-Mart does not mean that they should get a free pass.

  • http://graceharborfarms.com Tim Lukens

    Greetings Everyone,
    First off I would like to suggest that in this incredibly emotionally charged political cycle we are all enduring, that everyone calm down. The Estrella’s are a family operation and as far as I can tell from reading what is available that there was an ongoing process attempting to identify the source of the contamination. The FDA apparently has jurisdiction in this case due to products being shipped across state lines. My family went through a recall having to do with E-coli in raw milk a few years ago. And I will testify that it is a traumatizing event. Even trained media communication professionals would have to carefully consider what they say to the media, let alone a wife and mother, potentially facing the loss of their family livelihood. If your statements, about this family business, are a result of your personal political hatred for the Tea Party movement I would respectfully ask you to re-evaluate and give this small business the respect it deserves. Until all the facts are available and rational judgements can be made in regards to cooperation or non cooperation etc. Lynch mobs have never solved anything.

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

    Tim, thanks for weighing in.

  • http://www.marlerblog.com Bill Marler

    From the Seattle Times a few moments ago:
    Feds seize raw-milk cheese from Montesano creamery
    The Associated Press
    MONTESANO, Wash. —
    Federal authorities say they’ve seized all the cheese from a creamery in Montesano after the company refused to recall items contaminated with listeria.
    Prosecutors announced Monday that U.S. marshals seized the cheese last week from the Estrella Family Creamery.
    The creamery makes its cheeses with raw milk from cows that graze on its organically maintained pastures. It sells them at farmers markets around Western Washington.
    Authorities say tests by the Washington State Department of Agriculture early this year came back positive for listeria, a pathogen that can be fatal to the elderly, young children or people with compromised immune systems.
    The creamery recalled several cheeses in the spring. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration conducted follow-up tests in August and found that the bacteria remained, but the creamery refused to recall all of its cheeses.
    The company says the seizure could put it out of business.

  • http://graceharborfarms.com Tim Lukens

    Bill,
    Part of the responsibiltiy of a food producer, of any size, is to be able to act appropriately in the event of a pathogen contamination. That means recall. None of us are exempt from this reality. Whether or not the business survives or not will depend on how everyone responds. I sincerely hope they make good decisions and survive this. If they do they will be better operators, but it will be a tough learning experience. Thanks for the post.

  • Jones

    Mark,
    There have been no illnesses associated with this recall, so what is the purpose of the article addressing Listeria infection models? For that matter, why is a personal injury attorney concerned when there are no victims? I have been reading through your blog to try to get a feel for your bent on the issues and give you the benefit if the doubt. Unfortunately after doing so this post feels like scare tactics to get people more fired up about the Estrella recall.
    Why not post an article on how hard it is to get rid of Listeria once it is established in a processing environment? Or what measures can be taken to prevent Listeria in processing environments? Or the environmental sources of Listeria (it doesn’t come from milk, it gets into milk)? Or what testing methods are being used by the FDA for detecting Listeria?
    As a food safety scientist I attest that there are much more relevant pieces of information out there that might actually have some relevance to a non-illness related recall.
    Not that this blog entry had much real information in the first place. You simply informed your followers that a recall was ordered and a lady made some comments that you found ignorant (whether you admit it or not, its obvious).

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

    I try to talk about Listeria at http://www.about-listeria.com. Hope that helps.

  • http://graceharborfarms.com Tim Lukens

    Mr Jones brought up some interesting points for discussion. I have a question concerning the AP article. The creamery did recall some cheese in the spring. It states that follow up tests were conducted in August and it was found “the bacteria remained” but that the dairy refused to recall all it’s cheeses. We are left to assume that the Listeria was found in the cheese inventory. But it doesn’t specifically state that was the case. I would be interested in knowing specifically where the positive tests came back from. I have had plant managers tell me that most large dairy manufacturing plants would probably fail a listeria test if a swab was taken from inside a drain pipe, for example. So would that justify a total recall of that plants products, if the rest of the plant equipment and surfaces, and inventory were negative? I think that some reasonable questioning needs to be added onto this discussion in regards to what was tested etc. Also, does the fact that this creamerys product being a raw product have anything to do with the expediency of the demand for total recall. In view of the fact that no illnesses have been reported? Or associated with this companies products. Raw cheese if aged properly has had a very low incidence of illnesses associated with it. It doesn’t make sense to me that a company would refuse a recall on products that tested positive. But it would make sense if the products tested negative and various environmental samples were positive, from soil outside the plant for example, but in the operators view didn’t pose a significant product contamination risk. It would be useful I believe for everyone to know these kind of details, if possible. It would be a learning experience and I’m sure all parties involved would welcome procedure protocal review.

  • http://Www.marlerblog.com Bill Marler

    Most recent information from FDA:
    http://media-newswire.com/release_1130758.html

  • http://www.marlerblog.com Bill Marler

    Full FDA Press Release:
    FDA cautions consumers about Estrella Family Creamery cheeses
    All Estrella cheeses put consumers at risk for Listeria monocytogenes
    Fast Facts
    This advisory affects all lots of Estrella Family Creamery cheeses, including cheeses identified as soft, semi-soft, semi-hard and hard.
    The cheeses have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes (L. mono) and may cause serious illness.
    L. mono is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.
    Listeria infections can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
    Healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
    Consumers who have the cheeses should throw them away.
    Consumers with symptoms of Listeria should consult their health care professionals.
    What is the Problem?
    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers to discard cheeses from Estrella Family Creamery of Montesano, Wash., because they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Environmental samples and one product sample collected by the FDA during an August 2010 inspection at the facility have tested positive for L. mono.
    The company had previously recalled cheeses due to L. mono contamination, but resumed marketing in May 2010.
    Previous recall notices for Estrella products:
    2/10/10: Estrella Family Creamery Recalls Red Darla Cheese Due to Possible Health Risks
    2/17/10: Estrella Family Creamery Expands Recall Of Various Cheeses Because Of Possible Health Risk
    3/5/10: Estrella Family Creamery Recalls Old Apple Tree Tomme Cheese Due to Possible Health Risks
    What are the Symptoms o Illness/Injury?
    Listeria monocytogenes is an organism, which ca cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infections can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
    For more information on Listeria: http://www.foodsafety.gov/poisoning/causes/bacteriaviruses/listeria.html
    Who is at Risk?
    All individuals are at risk. However, unborn babies, young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk.
    What Do Consumers Need To Do?
    Consumers should discard the cheeses in the trash in a sealed container so that children and animals, such as wildlife, cannot access them.Consumers who are concerned about illness from L. mono should consult their healthcare professionals.
    What Does the Product Look Like?
    Estrella manufactures at least 18 varieties of soft ripened, semi-soft, semi-hard and hard cheeses made from raw cow or goat milk and aged 60 days or longer. The cheeses are sold in wheels or cut to order for retail markets, and do not contain lot codes.
    While a complete product list is not available, some of the varieties that have been produced by Estrella include:
    Black Creek Buttery
    Dominoes
    Guapier
    Grisdale Goat
    Subblime
    Partly Sunny
    Wynoochee River Blue
    Caldwell Crik Chevrette
    Old Apple Tree Tomme
    Valentina
    Vineyard Tomme
    Brewleggio
    Red Darla
    Reposée
    Bea Truffled
    Jalapeño Buttery
    Weebles
    Where is it Distributed?
    Estrella cheeses are sold at specialty cheese shops, farmers markets, the company’s farm store in Montesano, Wash., and through the internet. The company also sells to restaurants and takes part in cheese contests where its products are sold.
    What is Being Done about the Problem?
    FDA will continue its investigation, working with state and local officials, and will consider taking any further action that may be necessary.
    Who Should be Contacted?
    Consumers who have experienced symptoms of illness from the consumption of Estrella cheeses should contact their health care professionals.
    Consumers may also contact their local FDA complaint coordinator in their state or call 888-INFO-FDA to report problems or illnesses related to the cheese.
    The information in this press release reflects FDA’s best efforts to communicate what the manufacturer has reported to FDA.

  • Rob

    Bill, you seem like a reasonable person with whom I would normally agree on a lot of things. Unlike some of the idiots making comments here, you’re not making stupid, unwarranted, and pretty tiresome jokes or statements.

    But why do you (a) assume Kelli doesn’t understand “do not kill” (I know, obviously you mean “do not sicken your customers”; I’m aware you meant it in that way and not as something anti-religious); (b) imply that she _hasn’t_ been dealing with the Listeria problem; and (c) not recognize that this is a woman whose business and family are in huge danger? Of course she should not be allowed to sell cheese that is likely to sicken people. But you know that she would be personally and financially devastated if she did so. She’s not stupid and she’s not greedy and she wants her customers to stay healthy and love her cheese.

    There is some gray area here, and any product has some risk. The FDA should enforce a sensible level of control over small-scale producers who have clean operations (I’ve seen hers and it looks like a nice, clean, working dairy.) I eat Estrella cheese every week and the riskiest part is the drive to buy it. That’s a level of risk I tolerate, and I suspect it’s far lower than the risk from eating mass-produced eggs, junk food, or all the other large-scale crap that is probably protected more by political donations than by actual science and cleanliness.

    Anyway, my real point is (c). The Estrellas have a great business they’ve built over 10 years. They have six kids to feed and hundreds of animals to care for. No, of course that’s not a license to poison people, but please use your heart and your head and assume that’s not what they’re trying to do (or what they _have_ been doing). They’re trying to make a wonderful product that makes hundreds of people like me really, really happy, they’re raising a beautiful family, they’re obeying their religious beliefs (I’m a lifelong, commited atheist, but the strength they seem to draw from it makes me happy for them). They’re fighting for their survival. Can’t you cut them some slack and assume they _are_ trying to do the right things? What do you gain by helping to fuel animosity against them for something irrelevant and perhaps foolish they say in a moment of high stress?

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

    Rob, here is some more detail about why this all happened – http://www.foodsafetynews.com

  • Doc Mudd

    Rob wonderfully illustrates the double standard (and double-talk) that maliciously clouds our food safety discussions; compare and contrast these statements from his comment above:
    “… I suspect it’s far lower than the risk from eating mass-produced eggs, junk food, or all the other large-scale crap that is probably protected more by political donations than by actual science and cleanliness.”
    followed by
    “…of course that’s not a license to poison people, but please use your heart and your head and assume that’s not what they’re trying to do (or what they _have_ been doing). They’re trying to make a wonderful product that makes hundreds of people like me really, really happy… Can’t you cut them some slack and assume they _are_ trying to do the right things? ”
    Vindictive sophistry with one breath and a soppy plea for leniency with the very next. A dangerously unbalanced thought process, unless it is merely deceitful and disingenuous. Either way, our discussion is hamstrung.

  • J in seattle

    This blog post is really disappointing and I feel does little to address the actual problem at hand. From what I have read in other articles, the Estrella family was working with the FDA to aggressively address their Listeria problem. They recalled all cheese (which you list links to above) that was contaminated or at risk of exposure to Listeria. The problem was the farm refused to recall ALL their cheese as was recommended by the FDA. Apparently they have more than one cheese aging facility and they were willing (and did) recall their cheeses aged in the facility that tested positive to Listeria. However, they have cheese that is aged in another facility that tested negative for Listera, and they didn’t see a need to recall those cheeses. This refusal is what caused the seizure. I believe this is very likely a misunderstanding between the FDA and the farm. I’m sure the FDA does not have the ability or desire to take the time to understand the various stages and complete process of artisian cheese making and therefore mandated they recall all cheese as a precaution, while the cheese makers know the process and are confident that the cheese they were still selling was not exposed.
    Very unfortunately, Kelli from Estrella farms posted her very emotional response on the farm’s web site that has ignited a backlash. Her response is unfortunate because she does not address the Listeria concern, rather it’s a lengthy emotional response to what I’m sure has been a very stressful year (many recalls and a battle against Listeria). However, the farm has been dealing with the Listeria and willingly recalled many of their cheeses which tells me that they understand and appreciate the risk of selling contaminated products to their consumers and are doing what they can to eliminate it. This is a small family run sustainable farm. They do not have a professional spokesperson to make sure that every word is carefully crafted for the media, which these days is so essential. They care about their products and their customers (I am one of them) and I’m sure this seizure is a tremendous blow to them on many levels thus eliciting her response. I don’t necessarily agree with her political or religious views, however they do not matter to me as a customer. What matters to me is if they are addressing their contamination issue – which seems like they are if you look at their response throughout the year to the positive Listeria tests. Kelli removed her letter from the web site for a reason, I don’t see a good reason to keep it posted here. I’m still trying to get the story straight, and it’s difficult because of the heated response to her letter. I feel that the ridicule of her letter in this post and comments are over the top. I’m sure this has been a very difficult year for them and I encourage people to look beyond this post and figure out what the situation really is. What we eat has a profound impact on our well being, the economy and the environment. Small family farmers need support from the community. It’s frustrating to me that most of our food is grown and produced by a handful of companies that have issues far worse that this, yet we choose to support them daily. I encourage people to cut this family a little slack regarding this letter and take some time to get your facts straight.

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

    Thanks for the comment. I would suggest that you look at today’s post and the attached affidavit.

  • Sarah

    I’d suggest that the contamination is now coming from the people. After a time the parasites will exit the body of their hosts, sometimes through the skin. I’m not sure about this parasite, but if there was work done to clean the facility, but not the people there is still a possibility that they have a chronic listeria infection in their bodies. I suggest reading up on parasites. “Guess What Came to Dinner? Parasites and Your Health” by Ann Louise Gittleman is a good place to start.

  • Jim F

    A conclusion that could be drawn from the many comments above, and other local discussions, is that small local sustainable producers (the good guys?) are not to be held to the same standards for things like food safety as are large distant corporate producers (the bad guys?). This then suggests that food safety isn’t really all that important, that it’s more of an expectation around convenience – or rather the inconvenience of getting sick, or maybe something that can be traded off against other measures of sustainability . The reality is that the consequences of food borne illness are way-way too severe for that.

    In this particular case all the small local creameries should be hoping the “system” works and any/all careless producers either clean up their act or get weeded out. I don’t think that I am especially unusual — I really love their products but I won’t knowingly risk the lives of my family, guests or even myself for them. But I don’t have the ability to know and keep track of who is taking it seriously (and being successful in that regard) and who isn’t. So if I can’t be confident in the whole community of small creameries, then I’ll just end up steering away from all of them. That’s unfortunate for me but if there are very many people like me in their broad customer base it’s very unfortunate for all the small creameries. We and they don’t need for them to be given some slack, we and they they need to be fully confident in their products.

    By the way, personally, I’d like to see Mr. Marler get entirely out of the food safety litigation business — but only when food borne illness becomes rare enough that it won’t support a law firm.

    JF

  • reen

    Thank you, Tim Lukens, for your thoughtful observations and words on this subject (and for products which I enjoy). As someone who went through a similar experience with the FDA, I feel Tim has spoken well by telling us to calm down and listen to the dialogue carefully before jumping to conclusions about those whose life views and faith differ from our own. I also agree that this is an instance where high stress and passion impacted the immediate reaction by Kelli; however, I believe that, as producers and consumers of raw cheeses and products alike, we all must be aware that there are heavy risks associated with such products. As someone who has worked making farmstead cheese myself, who currently works in a retail capacity, and who prides myself in being a consumer of artisinal and farmstead products, I have to have a strong awareness that I am working with the freshest and most safe products possible. My hope is that this can be an opportunity for raised awareness of food safety when it comes to artisan products which will hopefully be plentiful in stores and farmer’s markets for years to come.

  • Polski

    The FDA is well known for their raids. They also raid Alternate Medicine doctors. And normal MDs who do not do the “Sick Industry’s” (known in the media as the “health industry”) orders. This is simply an expansion of their attacks on legitimate businesses on behalf of the larger companies who control the FDA to get rid of the independent businesses.

  • Judith

    Good Lord. This outfit refused to recall product for the safety of the public, refused to comply with simple health regulations, and then hides behind the flag and the Bible? Take responsibility for your own actions, Estrella family. Why in the world would you put profit before the safety and respect of your customers? Incredible.
    I’m a farmers’ marketer (plants & soap), and while I understand the attraction of buying local, and hope people do, I also expect customers at our market to be sold only safe food. If you cannot produce safe food, you should be selling something else. The same is true for any food sold to the public; it is our responsibility as vendors to not endanger our customers or the community at large.

  • Kyrin

    I really don’t care about anything other then the fact that they make some of the
    BEST CHEESE in the world, and so what if I got the shits from the blue cheese,once, I’m an adult and I have the right to eat it if I want. The FDA has no right to tell me whats safe or unsafe. I have 20 years of culinary experience telling me that spiders and all, there cheese is amazing. There is no way to explain how profoundly delicious all of their cheeses are. Red Darla is so good. Removing Red Darla from our markets is criminal. I don’t care if there are spiders in the cheese, I want to eat Estrella cheeses. And I know it’s safe from eating as much as I have. ( I will….I have a three pieces in my fridge and I’m so going to enjoy them with my friends,)

  • Cheeseman

    I agree with Kyrin, Estrella makes yummy cheese. I love the taste of spiders, flies, hair, and wood chips in my cheese – it gives it a nice crunch! So what if 99% of people find those things repulsive? Kyrin and I think it tastes good, ergo, Estrella should be allowed to sell it.
    Further, the FDA has no right to tell me what is safe – I should have the right to eat anything I want, and feed anything to my children. Why does the FDA tell me that my pregnant wife should not eat raw cheese anyways? And on that subject, why does everyone throw a fit when I let my four-year-old drink beer?
    Since I have not died yet from eat Estrella cheese, it must be safe. And even if I do get sick, whatever doesn’t kill me will make me stronger, right?

  • michael

    IF there’s a problem with their cheese- then it’s oK to pull it. But, many times the goverment gets ham-fisted and singles out raw milk products without a trace of proof. Seen it many times over the past 10 years. And many pastureized products infect more ppl than raw milk products. I did the research out of the CDC’s information.
    All over the world cheese is made unpasturized and ppl don’t have issues. It’s an ancient preservation technique and properly done- it’s very safe and HEALTHY.
    I haven’t toured their production to have any idea on how things were done… does peeling paint on a handle a means to shut down production? Is it over or beside the cheese to where it doesn’t matter? A holding room and a spider? Who cares…really. All the milk is contained in a giant Stainless steel vessel which is refrigerated.