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Salmonella outbreak linked to NC cheeses appears to be over

This is one of the photos from the Chapel Hill Creamery website that shows the company's production process.

This is one of the photos from the Chapel Hill Creamery website that shows the company’s production process.

It’s been more than a month since the last Salmonella case was confirmed in an outbreak traced to cheeses from a North Carolina company, suggesting the episode is over. Some of the implicated cheeses were made with unpasteurized, raw milk.

Chapel Hill Creamery recalled all of its cheese and ceased operations in late July.

North Carolina’s health department reports that 98 state residents have been confirmed with the outbreak strain of Salmonella typhimurium. Sixteen of those 98 required hospitalization.

The North Carolina company recalled all of its cheeses, including this and other varieties made with unpasteurized, raw milk, after samples tested positive for the outbreak strain of Salmonella.

The North Carolina company recalled all of its cheeses, including this and other varieties made with unpasteurized, raw milk, after samples tested positive for the outbreak strain of Salmonella.

Onset dates for the North Carolina victims range from April 24 through July 30, said Cobey Culton, press assistant for the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. The victims ranged in age from infancy to more than 90 years old.

“Salmonella was isolated by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services laboratory from a sample of finished cheese product collected on July 27,” Culton said. “The isolates recovered from the cheese sample matched the outbreak strain when tested at the State Laboratory of Public Health.”

Eight people from other states also became infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella typhimurium, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“… These ill people all reported travel to North Carolina during their incubation period and were likely exposed to cheese from Chapel Hill Creamery at that time. We do not have any information to indicate that exposure to the recalled cheeses occurred in other states,” said CDC spokeswoman Kate Fowlie.

Chapel Hill Creamery distributed 15 varieties of cheeses in various combinations to retailers, restaurants and farmers markets in North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Company co-founder Portia McKnight said Thursday that production has not yet resumed.

“We are working with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and with other agricultural and food safety specialists to formulate and implement a recovery plan for our business,” McKnight said.

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