Homemade cheese linked to Salmonella outbreak in Minneapolis

Categories: News

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Homemade food is all the rage these days, with everything from basement breweries to kimchi-making in the kitchen. However, sometimes the goods don't turn out as well as expected. Yesterday, the Minnesota Department of Health revealed that more than two dozen people in Minneapolis have gotten sick from eating homemade cheese.

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According to health officials, the cheese was a Mexican-style queso fresco made with raw milk containing strains of Salmonella. Sold via home deliveries and potentially on a corner by East Lake Street, the cheese was made by a someone in a private residence.

The cheese maker bought raw milk for the cheese from a Dakota County farm. Samples of the Salmonella strains from the contaminated cheese matched those in the farm's unpasteurized milk. While Minnesotans may legally purchase raw milk from farms, they are prohibited from selling or giving away the product to others.

Between late March and April, 25 people became ill from eating the queso fresco, with 15 of those infected going to the hospital for their symptoms. Anyone who suspects they may have purchased the cheese but has not yet eaten it should dispose of the product.

"Milking a cow is not a sterile process and even the cleanest dairy farms can have milk that is contaminated," according to the director of MDA's Dairy and Food Inspection Dr. Heidi Kassenborg in a press release. "That's why pasteurization -- or the heat treatment of milk to kill the harmful pathogens -- is so important," she said.

Salmonella poisoning is common with raw or undercooked foods like chicken and can lead to fatal consequences if untreated. Illness may start within three days, but may take up to a week to appear, with symptoms including abdominal pain, diarrhea, and fever.

For more information on food safety, visit the MDA's website.

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