Four people were indicted in Chicago today on charges they illegally distributed 100,000 pounds of cheese contaminated with salmonella, e.coli and other bacteria. Authorities say they even “washed” cheese that was returned by customers by scraping off mold and fungus, then resold it.
One of those indicted, Guadalupe Zurita, lives in Mexico and operated an Illinois corporation in 2007, and his brother and employee, Baldemar Zurita, was also indicted.. Another, Miguel Leal, produced cheese at a plant in Wisconsin, and Cynthia Gutierrez, of Cicero, worked at an Elmhurst facility.
They are charged with “conspiracy to violate the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by introducing adulterated cheese into interstate commerce; and three counts of violating the food safety law.” The four allegedly lied to an FDA inspector and sent falsified documents to the FDA.
The cheese was sold under the brand name Queso Cincho De Guerrero in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Georgia and Texas. A recall was issued in September 2007 for the dry, hard Mexican cheese sold in 35- and 40-pound wheels. There is no evidence that any customers had been made ill by the cheese.