Vulto Creamery Listeria Outbreak and Litigation
In early March 2017, public health and regulatory officials in several states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigated an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes (Listeria) infections. Investigators used epidemiologic evidence and laboratory results from the PulseNet system to identify case patients who were part of the outbreak. Eight people infected with the outbreak strain of LIsteria were reported from four states: Connecticut, Florida, New York, Vermont. The Florida case had traveled to New York in the month before the illness onset. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) performed on clinical isolates from all 8 case-patients showed that the isolates were closely related genetically, providing strong support that illnesses were linked to a common source.
State and local health departments interviewed ill people or their family members about the foods they ate or other exposures in the month before their illness started. Based on those interviews, all eight people ate a soft cheese. At least seven of the ill people purchased cheese at stores where Vulto Creamery cheese was sold. Listeria specimens from ill people were collected from September 1, 2016 to March 13, 2017. Ill people ranged in age from less than one year to 89 years. Five of eight people were female. All eight ill people were hospitalized. Two people - one from Connecticut and one from Vermont - died. One of the illnesses was reported in a newborn.
The Connecticut Department of Health collected leftover cheeses from the home of the deceased person in Connecticut. The outbreak strain of Listeria was identified in leftover cheese that the family identified as Ouleout cheese from Vulto Creamery. The New York Division of Milk Control and Dairy Services collected three intact wheels of Ouleout cheese from Vulto Creamery, The outbreak strain of Listeria was identified in samples taken from the 3 wheels of cheese. On March 7, 2017, Vulto Creamery recalled all lots of Ouleout, Miranda, Heinenneille, and Willowemoc soft wash-rind raw milk cheese. One March 10, the company expanded the recall to include four other cheeses: Andes, Blue Blais, Hamden, and Walton Umber. On March 3, 2017, the outbreak was declared over.
Marler Clark represented individuals affected by the outbreak. All cases were settled in March 2018.