After samples of Sally Jackson Cheese tested positive for E. coli O157:H7, confirming that it was the source of an outbreak that sickened eight people in four states, the Oroville, WA. cheesemaker announced she was going out of business.
A week ago, Sally Jackson recalled all of her rustic, raw-milk cheeses, a gourmet product sold in high-end restaurants and cheese shops. Subsequent inspection by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration revealed numerous sanitation infractions at the small, remote dairy. Among them:
• Failure to use water which is of adequate sanitary quality in food and on food-contact surfaces. Specifically, the well water supply for the facility is not currently in microbiological compliance. The most recent water analysis was unsatisfactory for total colifom as evidenced by a test report from 10/4/10 observed at the facility. The well has not been retested.
• Failure to clean non-food-contaet surfaces of equipment as frequently as necessary to protect against contamination. Specifically, the wood fixtures, walls and floors were generally soiled and stained with grime/dirt. The floors also showed an accumulation of manure, mud. straw.
• Suitable outer garments are not worn that protect against contamination of food, food contact surfaces, and food packaging materials. Specifically, the owner wore manure-soiled outer clothing during the production of cheese; handling utensils and direct handling of finished product. Owner was observed kneeling in fresh cow manure, while milking a cow outside, then brushed pants with a bare hand and was later observed standing over a bucket of drained curd in the cheese room with the soiled pants coming in to contact with the edge of the bucket.
Washington State Department of Agriculture had much earlier identified sanitation issues at the Oroville farm and, after working with the owners for months to correct them, had in November given them a 30-day deadline to upgrade the facility or close.