Queso fresco

After repeated warnings, the Food and Drug Administration has filed a suit in Federal District Court in Brooklyn in an attempt to shut down a Queens, NY cheese manufacturer for health violations involving the presence of deadly bacteria.

Mexicali Cheese Corporation located in Woodhaven—a neighborhood in Queens—has a history of health violations that include findings of staphylococcal bacteria, listeria and the presence of flies, maggots, rats and mold.

Despite no official reports of illnesses traced back to Mexicali cheese products, the FDA filed the complaint in efforts to protect consumers from the potential risks connected with the unsanitary factory.

The New York Times reports that “Inspectors from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets have visited the factory more than 30 times since 2009, according to the report, and F.D.A. inspectors have also made visits. Inspectors said they found listeria on a dolly used to transport cheese throughout the plant, on the aprons of food handlers and in a pool of liquid in a storage area.”

Among the health risks, listeria is particularly dangerous—and sometimes fatal—for pregnant women, children and people with compromised immune systems. Staph bacteria has been linked to the development of staph infections, many of which have become resistant to treatment with common antibiotics, leading to more serious illnesses that are difficult to treat.

According to the FDA, Mexicali Cheese manufactures soft Mexican cheeses found throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut including queso fresco, queso Oaxaca, and queso para freir.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: TheCulinaryGeek