Cheese Recall, Vente E. coli Latte and Swiss Cheese
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Cheese Recall, Vente E. coli Latte and Swiss Cheese

By Robert Cohen, NotMilk.com

My illness is due to my doctor's insistence that I drink milk, a whitish fluid they force down helpless babies.
- W. C. Fields

On Thursday (5/26/2011), New York City health department Investigators found "fecal organisms" (E. coli) on half of the Starbuck$ milk dispensers which were tested.

Last week, I thought of my buddy Ron Paul, the doctor/congressman who promotes raw dairy products. A doctor should know better. I thought of him on the same day I read about the Starbuck$ dairy contaminations after a New Jersey cheese distributor had to recall a large inventory of cheese that had tested positive for listeria contamination.

You will be happy to know that if you consume listeria-tainted cheese, you can take 30 days or more to develop the first sometimes-lethal symptoms. According to USDA:

Listeria monocytogenes can 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 infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Just about now, you might be wondering what the odds are of eating cheese which contains live listeria organisms. If it's Swiss cheese, would you believe that the odds are: 100 percent?

Here's the real science which Notmilk first reported in 2003:

Every Portion of Swiss Cheese is Infected with Listeria

In a previous column, you read that Listeria monocytogenes can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, pregnant women, and individuals with weakened immune systems. Listeria infections can also cause miscarriages

A few readers of the column were angry. One dairy farmer suggested that the incidence of Listeria is so small as to be almost nonexistent. He suggested that one out of every one million packages of dairy products contain live Listeria. In order to check out this claim, a bit of research was necessary.

One of the many tasks I assign myself each day is to spend some time (sometimes a few hours) searching and reading Medline abstracts. There is no way any one person can read every study published in every scientific journal. I located the revealing summary of a recently published study in a French journal, referenced as Rev Epidemiol Sante Publique. 2003, Oct;51(5):493-503.

A group of scientists (Schaffner, et. al.) measured the level of exisiting Listeria bacteria in Swiss cheese samples and came up with astonishing results. Every sample tested contained traces of live Listeria.

These researchers discovered that the processing of Swiss cheese leads to a probability of contamination. In their words:

"Elevated bacterial concentrations are mainly due to cases of mastitis involving Listeria monocytogenes."

Depending upon the level of heat treatment, various samples tested resulted in anywhere from one to ten Listeria monocytogenes per portion of cheese. The authors conclude: 

Based on the presented data and estimations, it is concluded that the consumption of traditionally/artisanal manufactured Swiss Emmental hard cheese presents an extremely low, but existent risk, especially for people with a deficient or diminished immune system.

What this all means is that all Swiss cheese contains detectable levels of live Listeria. Depending upon storage (loading dock, truck, warehouse, supermarket, your home), those bacteria have the opportunity to multiply. What are the odds of you being infected with Listeria? Russian Roulette, anybody?



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