fda-cheese-350.jpgAccording to a Press Release from Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, four individuals who were involved in shipping more than 110,000 pounds of Mexican cheese in 2007 were indicted (See, Full Indictment PDF) on federal charges for allegedly conspiring to distribute the cheese throughout the United States despite Food and Drug Administration orders that it be held for inspections, which later determined that samples were adulterated with Salmonella, E. coli and other illness-causing bacteria. One defendant owned the Illinois Company that imported the dried Mexican cheese to the U.S., and another defendant owned a Wisconsin company that had a facility in suburban Elmhurst and distributed the cheese to customers nationwide. All four defendants were charged with conspiring to illegally distribute the cheese, to “wash” cheese returned by dissatisfied customers by scrapping off mold and fungus so that it could be resold, and to cover up their distribution of the cheese by lying to an FDA inspector and by creating and sending a false document to the food safety agency.