Vulto Creamery LLC, a Walton, N.Y.-based raw milk cheese company, was ordered by a federal court not to manufacture its ready-to-eat aged soft, semi-soft and hard cheeses until it complies with food safety regulations. Earlier this year, the FDA, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local officials, investigated a multi-state outbreak of listeriosis that was eventually linked to soft cheese produced by Vulto Creamery. Eight people were infected from four states, and two people died, the FDA said.
On March 30, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York entered a consent decree of permanent injunction against Vulto Creamery and its owner and manager, Johannes "Jos" H. Vulto. The defendants cannot prepare, process, manufacture, pack and/or hold FDA-regulated food products until they can ensure that Listeria monocytogenes is not present in the facility and the food products.
"We have an obligation to make sure that foods are safe for people to consume,” said Melinda K. Plaisier, FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “The FDA moved quickly after a L. mono outbreak to get the company to recall and destroy all its cheese products and cease production to prevent any more tainted food from harming consumers. FDA investigators also found unsanitary conditions at Vulto Creamery's facility, and this consent decree prevents the company and its owner from resuming operations until they can demonstrate to the FDA that their products are safe."
Vulto Creamery's ready-to-eat cheeses are considered adulterated because they contain Listeria monocytogenes — a pathogenic bacterium that can cause listeriosis, a rare but potentially life-threatening illness. People with compromised immune systems, the elderly, pregnant women and developing fetuses are particularly susceptible to listeriosis. In addition, the products were prepared, packed and/or held under unsanitary conditions, and the food may have become contaminated with filth or otherwise be harmful to health, the FDA said.
Before the company can resume operations, the consent decree requires it, among other things, to retain an independent laboratory to collect and analyze environmental and finished samples for the presence of Listeria monocytogenes, retain an independent expert and develop a program to control Listeria monocytogenes and eliminate unsanitary conditions at its facility.