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If you have cheese in your refrigerator, go check it right now.
If it came from Vulto Creamery, sit down before reading on. That's because Vulto cheese, previously distributed by Whole Foods and throughout New York, has caused at least eight people to fall ill to listeriosis -- including two who died.
A federal court has ordered the shut-down of the artisanal creamery, but that's only part of the story. This has been going on for years.
Johannes Vulto never meant to hurt anybody. He didn't even plan on becoming a cheese maker.
But after half a year of experimenting with cheeses, he decided to start a creamery. Despite some successes, that experiment was the problem.
Vulto didn't know what he was doing. In court documents, he "acknowledged that he did not understand the significance of the environmental sampling results that tested positive" for listeria.
The contamination first came out in 2016. It has taken two wrongful death lawsuits and multiple government agencies to deal with the problem.
After the Food and Drug Administration discovered listeria bacteria at the creamery, Vulto issued a recall early last year. He also ceased production of his products pending the government investigations.
But Vulto didn't seem to get it, according to the complaint filed in the Northern District of New York. The lawsuit says the cheese-making facility had a "heavy build-up of mold," rust, and other unsafe conditions.
"The presence of this dangerous bacteria at a cheese manufacturing facility in Upstate New York is of grave concern," said U.S. Attorney Grant Jaquith.
According to USA Today, some employees failed to wash their hands before stirring and breaking up cheese curds by hand.