Arrests drain bathtub cheese sellers


SACRAMENTO
October 24, 2007 5:19pm


•  375 pounds of illegal cheese seized

•  ‘A significant find’


A Southern California couple is facing criminal charges after allegedly being caught with 375 pounds of “bathtub” cheese at an open-air market in San Bernardino County, the California Department of Food and Agriculture says.

The illegal soft cheese products are known to cause serious illness such as listeria, salmonella or E. coli.

Floribel Hernandez Cuenca, 29, and Manuel Martin Sanchez Garrido, 44, of Montclair, were arrested for selling a variety of unlicensed cheeses to the public. Ms. Cuenca was also arrested on felony cheese making charges.

The 375 pounds of seized illegal cheese included panela, queso fresco and queso oxaca varieties, the CDFA says. It was a significant find, the department says.

“Illegally produced is cheese is serious threat to public health,” says CDFA Secretary A.G. Kawamura.

Unlicensed products may carry a bigger price tag than consumers expect: the risk of severe illness, the state says.

Infants, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems are the most susceptible. Expectant mothers should be especially guarded, as the listeria organism can cause miscarriages.

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