Report faults unsanitary Wash. cheese company

Editor’s Note:  Well thank goodness for Harry Reid protecting us from artisan cheese.

art credit: Hazel McKinley

Shannon Dininny
Associated Press

YAKIMA, Wash. — An artisan cheese maker who is known as a pioneer in the industry wore manure-soiled clothing during cheese production and milked livestock and stirred cheese curds with bare hands that went unwashed, according to a federal inspection report released Wednesday.

Sally Jackson Cheese of Oroville, Wash. voluntarily recalled all of its cheeses Friday after the Food and Drug Administration warned that the products should be avoided because they could be contaminated by E. coli. Eight people in Washington, Oregon, Minnesota and Vermont have been sickened, one of whom was briefly hospitalized.

Owner Sally Jackson disputes findings in the report, but said she plans to shut down her business. She said Washington state had ordered her to upgrade her aging, wooden facility a month ago.

“My argument then was that I have never made anybody sick in 30 years. That’s what breaks my heart now, that this is how it ended,” she said. “This has never happened.”

The FDA confirmed Wednesday that the company’s cheese had been linked to the eight illnesses.

A small farm business in rural north-central Washington, just south of the Canadian border, Sally Jackson Cheese opened 30 years ago and makes cheese from unpasteurized, raw milk from cows, sheep and goats.

Its products are distributed nationally to high-end retail shops, markets and restaurants. Whole Foods Market announced a recall of several Sally Jackson varieties, including some cheese that had been repackaged with a Whole Foods label. 

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