MONTESANO, Wash. - The U.S. Marshal’s Service seized all cheese products at Estrella Family Creamery (Estrella) in Montesano, Washington, Thursday, October 21, 2010, after repeated tests by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Washington State Department of Agriculture (WADA) over the last several months showed the persistent presence of a pathogen, Listeria monocytogenes, in Estrella’s cheese products and facilities. The pathogen can cause the illness listeriosis which can be life threatening for the aged, infirm, very young or immune compromised individuals. The pathogen can be especially dangerous for pregnant women. U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle authorized the seizure.
According to the FDA affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, the WADA collected samples of cheese and cheese ingredients from production areas at the farm on February 1st, 9th, and March 1, 2010. Testing revealed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in the cheese, in the salt brine used in processing the cheese, and in production and storage areas throughout the farm. Estrella recalled a variety of cheeses in February and March 2010 following the test results.