Germantown-based Gehl Foods linked to deadly botulism outbreak in California

10 people sickened, company has not issued recall

Six people claiming to be sickened by nacho cheese in California joined a lawsuit being filed against nacho cheese manufacturer Gehl Foods, based in Germantown, Wisconsin.
Tests confirmed the botulism toxin was present in nacho-cheese dip distributed by Gehl Foods and sold at a gas station in the Sacramento suburb of Walnut Grove that killed one man and left at least nine others hospitalized. Among the ten people believed to be sickened by this outbreak is a mother of three who is still hospitalized. She is unable to move anything but her mouth and eyes. 
 
Botulism can cause paralysis of the respiratory and other muscles if left untreated. 
Health officials say the dispensing container and cheese dip were removed May 5, and that authorities believe the contamination posed no further risk to the public.
 
The CEO of Gehl Foods said the company is praying for those battling the illness and issued this statement:
 
" We are aware of the isolated botulism outbreak connected to a gas station in Walnut Grove, California, and are praying for the individuals battling the illness and their families.
 
We were notified by the FDA that Gehl Foods' nacho cheese was among the products seized at the Walnut Grove gas station during inspection.  We immediately retested samples from the relevant lot of cheese, and it remains clear of any contamination. To ensure the integrity of those test results, we also sent multiple samples to an independent lab, which confirmed our findings.
 
We are working closely with federal, state and local health authorities to determine what caused the specific outbreak on site. According to the California Department of Public Health, there is no ongoing risk to the public.
 
Gehl’s facilities remain safe for food production and all of our food samples continue to test negative for any contaminants. There is no recall of Gehl's nacho cheese product.
 
For further information, please visit gehlfoodsafety.com.
 
TODAY’S TMJ4 is also trying to reach out to corporate leaders and are waiting to hear back.
 
This is a developing story, stay with TODAY'S TMJ4 for further updates.
 
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