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Recall says organic cheeses could be dangerous products

Finding organic food options has become important to many people here in New Jersey and across the country. In response to consumer demand, many companies are offering selections of produce, meats and cheeses that are certified organic, which can mislead consumers into believing that they are safer to eat. In many cases, this might be the case, but a family-owned organic cheese maker, Grassfields Cheese LLC, was recently forced to issue a recall of approximately 20,000 pounds of its products because they could be dangerous products.

Several different types of cheeses are affected by the recall, and all of them were manufactured from Dec. 1, 2015 through June 1, 2016. Testing discovered the presence of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), which can lead to a serious or deadly bacterial infection in some consumers. The contamination became known after several incidents of illness were reported.

In the majority of cases, individuals suffer abdominal cramping, diarrhea (can be bloody) and vomiting that lasts approximately five to seven days. A low-grade fever will often accompany the illness. However, 5 to 10 percent of the population that contracts an STEC infection develops a condition called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can be life threatening.

HUS is characterized by fatigue, decreased urination and loss of color in the cheeks and lower eyelids. It is possible to lose kidney function and face other serious health issues, so anyone exhibiting these symptoms should seek medical attention right away. It takes most people up to five weeks to recover from HUS, but some suffer permanent damage or even die from the condition.

New Jersey residents who purchased cheeses from the Michigan company should contact the company to determine if their cheese is part of the recall and what to do. Anyone who is suffering from any of the symptoms of STEC and/or HUS should get to a hospital. If it turns out that an individual suffered serious damage or died as a result of ingesting these potentially dangerous products, a products liability claim might be appropriate.

Source: mlive.com, "Michigan cheesemaker recalls 10 tons of organic product after E.coli bacteria is discovered", Jim Harger, Aug. 3, 2016

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