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California Department of Food and Agriculture

Media Contact: Steve Lyle, Director of Public Affairs, (916) 654-0462

California Department of Food and Agriculture
Release #07-088
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CDFA inspection results in a significant find

SACRAMENTO, Wednesday, October 24, 2007 - A Southern California couple is facing criminal charges after allegedly being caught with 375 pounds of illegal soft cheese (often referred to as “bathtub” cheese) at an open-air market in San Bernardino County. These products are known to cause serious illness such as listeria, salmonella or E. coli.

Floribel Hernandez Cuenca, 29, and Manuel Martin Sanchez Garrido, 44, of Montclair, were arrested for selling a variety of unlicensed cheeses to the public. Ms. Cuenca was also arrested on felony cheese manufacturing charges.

CDFA dairy foods investigators joined a team consisting of the Chino and Ontario Police Departments, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and the Chino Code Enforcement Department.  The arrests occurred on Saturday, October 20th, in a parking lot at a custom meat facility in Chino were an open-air market was being held.  The investigation was prompted by specific complaints received about the venue. The 375 pounds of seized illegal cheese included panela, queso fresco and queso oxaca varieties.

“Illegally produced cheese is serious threat to public health,” said CDFA Secretary A.G. Kawamura, “we urge consumers to protect their families and avoid the purchase of illegally produced products. Traditional cheeses, as well as meat products, can be purchased at reputable retailers and specialty stores – these products are licensed and wholesome.”

Unlicensed products may carry a bigger price tag than consumers expect: the risk of severe illness. Infants, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems are the most susceptible. Expectant mothers should be especially guarded, as the listeria organism can cause miscarriages.

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California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Public Affairs
1220 N St., Ste. 214, Sacramento, CA 95814