The Valley Voice Newspaper reports that Bravo Farms has resumed selling cheese after closing in the wake of an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to its gouda cheese. After the original shutdown, Listeria was found in the production environment. No illnesses were known to be associated with the Listeria finding, but at least 38 confirmed E. coli illnesses occurred in 5 southwestern states due to the E. coli O157:H7 contamination.
The contaminated cheese that caused Bravo Farms’ E. coli outbreak was made from raw milk. Raw milk based cheeses have to be aged 60 days according to FDA rule, set forth at Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations, section 58.439.. No word yet whether Bravo observed the 60 day rule, or whether it even matters if they did. The former issue will probably be reported on when the FDA’s 483 inspection report becomes available, but what of the latter?
Raw milk based cheeses undoubtedly had a poor year in 2010, being associated with 15 outbreaks and recalls. Hopefully cheese producers and their supportive organizations are doing their R & D on ways to produce a safer product. Hopefully they’ve read Bill Marler’s 5-part series on the 60 day aging requirement. Read Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV , and Part V.