Johannes Vulto, a former raw milk cheese manufacturer in Upstate New York, and his company Vulto Creamery LLC, each received sentences in federal court in Syracuse on Monday, July 9 following a deadly incident.

The sentencing followed guilty pleas from both Vulto and Vulto Creamery LLC to a misdemeanor offense of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce. This charge stemmed from the distribution of cheese associated with a listeriosis outbreak between 2016 and 2017, the illness caused by Listeria monocytogenes.

Vulto was handed a 3-year probation sentence, a $100,000 fine, and was mandated to perform 240 hours of community service.

Vulto Creamery LLC, which is no longer operational, was placed on a year of probation. United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman and Special Agent in Charge Fernando McMillan from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office led the announcement of these sentences.

Upon admitting guilt, Vulto took responsibility for overseeing operations at the Vulto Creamery manufacturing facility in Walton, New York, which encompassed sanitation and environmental monitoring. Both Vulto and Vulto Creamery acknowledged actions that led to the distribution of adulterated cheese across state boundaries from December 2014 to March 2017.

Analysis from environmental swabs collected from the Vulto Creamery facility during this period repeatedly showed the presence of Listeria species, including the dangerous L. monocytogenes responsible for listeriosis. Following the FDA's identification of Vulto Creamery's products as the source of a listeriosis outbreak in March 2017, Vulto promptly closed the facility and initiated a recall, which ultimately escalated to a full product recall.

Regrettably, the outbreak led to eight hospitalizations and two deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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The FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations spearheaded the case investigation, with Senior Trial Attorney James T. Nelson from the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael F. Perry from the Northern District of New York prosecuting the matter.

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