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CDFA dairy foods investigators join sheriff’s department to seize 600 pounds
SACRAMENTO – January 27, 2006 – CDFA dairy foods investigators, working with local law enforcement on a multi-agency rural crime task force, have seized 600 pounds of illegally produced soft, fresh cheese, also known as “bathtub cheese,” at a ranchette near the community of Perris.
The seizure, one of the largest on record in California, included additional evidence pointing to a sizable production operation, including wooden cheese presses, molds and other items commonly used in illegal cheese production. Two men detained at the property received citations for violations of the State Food and Agricultural Code, which requires that cheese for sale in California be manufactured by licensed processors according to statutory standards for cleanliness and wholesomeness.
“Illegally produced cheeses pose a serious public health risk,” said CDFA Secretary A.G. Kawamura. “Our dairy foods investigators are dedicated to stopping the distribution of illegal product. We commend them for their work with local task forces throughout the state and with federal authorities at the U.S./Mexico border, where they work to stop unlicensed cheeses from entering our state and country.”
Bathtub cheeses are often made under unsanitary conditions that can encourage the growth of harmful bacteria such as salmonella and listeria, which can cause severe illness and even death. Infants, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems are most vulnerable. CDFA is testing the contraband cheese for the presence of harmful bacteria.
Other agencies joining CDFA on the multi-agency task force were the Riverside and San Bernardino county sheriff’s departments, the Ontario Police Department, and the Riverside County departments of environmental health and code enforcement.