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3 firms charged with selling potentially dangerous cheese

August 27, 2009 | 12:26 pm
The Los Angeles city attorney's office today filed criminal charges against three businesses, accusing them of selling dangerous, unpasteurized cheese from Mexico.

According to a statement from prosecutors, agents from the Department of Public Health and from the State Department of Food and Agriculture purchased cheeses from the business and then tested them.

The tests found the cheeses were unpasteurized, meaning they were not heated during production to kill potentially harmful bacteria, officials said.

"These bacteria and pathogens -- such as Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli, Bovine Tuberculosis, and Brucella -- can cause miscarriages, as well as diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps, swollen neck glands, and/or blood stream infection," according to the statement.
Those charged with the misdemeanor counts were: Faviola Martinez Garcia, owner of El Agave Restaurant Oaxaqueno; Sabrina Aguilar, owner of Mario Brothers Market; and Zeferino Garcia, president of Expresion Oaxaquena Market Inc.The violations are to the Food and Agriculture Code.

Last week, L.A. health officials warned the public about tainted cheese and issues these tips:

--Avoid dairy products with missing or incomplete labels. Labels should provide safe handling and storage information, a list of all the ingredients, including "pasteurized milk," and identify the manufacturer responsible for the product.

--Cheese products should be factory sealed.

--Buy cheese from the refrigerated section of the market.

--Do not purchase cheese from unlicensed manufacturers, unlicensed vendors at swap meets, door-to-door vendors or on the street.

-- Shelby Grad