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Westby Creamery Issues Voluntary Recall For Cottage Cheese

The Creamery Says There Is No Bacteria In Affected Products

Michael Conroy/AP Photo

Westby Cooperative Creamery has issued a voluntary retrieval for some of its cottage cheese products.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection posted a consumer advisory Friday for one lot of Westby Cooperative Creamery’s cottage cheese after finding alkaline phosphatase in a sample. Alkaline phosphatase is an enzyme naturally found in milk but is deactivated during pasteurization. So when the enzyme is present in dairy products, it means the item wasn’t fully pasteurized.

After testing the cottage cheese in an outside lab, the creamery found there was no bacteria in the affected products. But the creamery issued a voluntary retrieval anyway, Westby Cooperative Creamery General Manager Pete Kondrup said.

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“We felt like that would be the right thing for us to do,” Kondrup said. “The product is safe but we felt like there would be concerns from customers that saw this notice from the state.”

Westby Cooperative Creamery’s response to the incident is common, Raechelle Belli, DATCP spokeswoman, said.

“(A voluntary retrieval) provides people with good information about what’s going on, and it also shows that the company is proactive and they’re trying to take care of whatever issues have been identified,” Belli said.

Belli said DATCP does not know why the cottage cheese was not fully pasteurized but there are a few ways the process could have been impacted.

“If the pasteurizer itself was not working properly, that could be a cause, or if it hadn’t been pasteurized for the proper amount of time for that particular product,” Belli said.

Kondrup said the creamery is reviewing production in response to the issue, but he feels confident there are no underlying issues.

Belli said no cases of foodborne illnesses have been reported and no other products from Westby Cooperative Creamery have been impacted by the advisory.

Kondrup said most of the product never made it onto grocery store shelves, but anyone with the affected cottage cheese should return it to the store for credit.

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