Foodborne Illness Outbreak Database

This database provides summaries of significant food and water related outbreaks occurring since 1984 caused by E. coli, Salmonella, Hepatitis A, Campylobacter and other pathogens. Read more »

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Queso Fresco Sold in Utah, Unpasteurized Cheese 2009

Between 2009 and 2011, public health officials estimated that 2,100 Utahns had become ill due to Salmonella Newport after eating home-made, queso fresco. The Salt Lake Valley Health Department tracked down one source who was called "Mr. Cheese." People began to get sick in 2009 with Salmonella Newport; at that time, the health department warned people not to buy the Mexican-style soft cheese from unapproved sources. Another 22 Salmonella Newport cases occurred in 2010; a common source was not found, but they heard of a woman selling cheese in a parking lot. In June, 2011, another 32 people became sick due to Salmonella Newport. In 2011, the ill commonly identified four restaurants and a market as a source for the queso fresco. Local and state health department took samples of queso fresco and samples from preparation areas from the deli and restaurants. A sample of cheese yielded the outbreak strain of Salmonella Newport. The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food had a name of a potential manufacturer of the cheese, who had a criminal past. A criminal investigator for the Salt Lake County’s District Attorney’s Office put together a photo lineup for the restaurant owner, who identified his queso fresco source and called him "Mr. Cheese." The true name of "Mr. Cheese" was later given as Fidel Gomez. He made the cheese in his home using raw milk and was not licensed to manufacture cheese. As of November 3, the search for other sources of contaminated cheese was still underway. On October 12, Fidel Gomez was issued a cease and desist order by the Utah Department of Agriculture. The outbreak affected people in Salt Lake, Tooele, Davis, Utah, Weber, and Morgan counties.

  • Outbreak began:
  • Unknown 2009
  • Affected Country:
  • US
  • Affected States/Territories:
  • Utah
  • Organism(s):
  • Salmonella
  • Vehicle(s):
  • Dairy, Cheese, Unpasteurized, Raw Milk
  • Molecular Results Available:
  • Unknown
  • Test Results:
  • None
  • Location(s):
  • Restaurant, Deli, Private Homes
  • Brand Name(s):
  • Product Subject to Recall:
  • Unknown
  • Total ill:
  • 2100
  • Number ill by Case Definition Known:
  • Unknown
  • Number Laboratory Confirmed Cases:
  • N/A
  • Number Probable Cases:
  • N/A
  • Number Possible Cases:
  • N/A
  • Anyone Hospitalized:
  • Unknown
  • Number Hospitalized:
  • Unknown
  • Any Deaths:
  • Unknown
  • Number Dead:
  • Unknown

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