Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jessica A. Chittenden

February 20, 2009

Statement From Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker

Regarding the Suspension of the Ahava Cheese Plant in Ogdensburg

"Today, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets suspended the operating permit of Ahava of California, which operates a cheese manufacturing facility in Ogdensburg. The suspension was based on inspections of the plant and samples of the plantís products, which showed that continued operation and distribution of its products could pose a serious danger to the publicís health, safety and welfare.

"It is unfortunate that one of our dairy processing facilities is suspended from operation, however recent inspections found its products to have excessive levels of bacteria and coliform, as well as containing non-food grade oil. In addition, Ahavaís facility and equipment are in extreme disrepair, posing further potential contamination.

"The action taken today is effective immediately and stops all cheese processing and distribution at the Ogdensburg plant. Department inspectors have already seized over 25,000 pounds of cheese unfit for consumption, and all other product will be held until a determination is made that it is not adulterated. While Ahava only sold its products in bulk, the Department is committed to identifying any retail outlets that may have received Ahava products to assure the safety of the product.

"Since all operations at the Ogdensburg plant are currently suspended, we have notified the New York State Department of Labor of the possible job loss. The Department of Labor will take steps to provide services to all impacted employees."

2009 Press Releases