At least 25 Minnesotans have been sickened with salmonella linked to eating queso fresco that health department investigators believe was sold on a Minneapolis street corner.
Queso fresco is a raw Mexican-style cheese.
The Minnesota Department of Health said many of the people sickened with salmonella purchased or received the cheese from someone who made it in their home. The homemade cheese was delivered to people and may have been sold on a street corner along East Lake Street in Minneapolis.
MDH confirmed 18 cases of infection with the same strain of salmonella. An additional seven cases occurred among family members or other contacts of confirmed cases, but no laboratory specimens were available.
The individuals became ill between March 28 and April 24. Of the 25 cases, 15 were hospitalized. All have recovered.
The outbreak and the source of the raw milk used to make the cheese were detected in late April. Samples of unpasteurized queso fresco collected from the cheese maker
were found to contain the same strain of salmonella as the illnesses
Anyone who may have purchased or received this product recently should not eat it but should throw it away.
KNOW THE LAW
Investigators determined the milk used to make the cheese was purchased from a Dakota County farm. Unpasteurized milk samples collected at the farm were also found to match the outbreak strain.
Minnesota law allows consumers to purchase raw milk directly from a farm for their own consumption, but it may not be further distributed or sold. Additionally, cheese production facilities need to follow proper food safety laws and regulations, including licensure.
MORE BOOTLEG CHEESE?
While this particular outbreak may be over, health and agriculture officials are concerned this may not be an isolated incident -- that there may be other instances of people buying foods like unpasteurized queso fresco prepared by neighbors, friends or family.