IMPORTER TAKING PRECAUTIONS AFTER FDA WARNING ON CHEESE

LYNDHURST, N.J. -- Battaglia & Co. here, the principal importer of the Giglio brand of mascarpone cheese, has declared that there is no reason to believe that a Food and Drug Administration warning issued Sept. 9 applies to its product.Parmalat and Sol Di Valle are two other brands mentioned in the FDA warning, which stated that the brands could be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum, a potentially

LYNDHURST, N.J. -- Battaglia & Co. here, the principal importer of the Giglio brand of mascarpone cheese, has declared that there is no reason to believe that a Food and Drug Administration warning issued Sept. 9 applies to its product.

Parmalat and Sol Di Valle are two other brands mentioned in the FDA warning, which stated that the brands could be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum, a potentially life-threatening bacterium.

Although there have been no reported illnesses, Battaglia & Co. is taking appropriate safety measures, according to FDA spokesman Bradford Stone.

"The importer is in the process of contacting all consignees," he told SN. "We haven't heard of any injuries at this time."

As of Sept. 10 all but 39 cases of the Giglio brand of mascarpone had been recalled, according to a company official.

"FDA was notified by the Italian Ministry of Health that these brands of mascarpone were manufactured by the Giglio factory of Reggio Emilia, Italy, and have been linked to one death and at least three other cases of botulism in that country," the warning read. "As a result, these products are being recalled in Italy."

Following the notification by Italian authorities that some of the cheese might have been exported to the United States, FDA, Rockville, Md., began to try to trace the product and have it tested.

"We are fairly confident that at least part of the suspected lots are in the United States," said the Battaglia spokesman.

"What the FDA thinks there might be a problem with is a very small quantity. We were informed late Friday of this problem, and we worked with the FDA to take samples and have them analyzed.

"Out of the 39 [cases unaccounted for] we're having our distributors call their customers, so we expect to have them soon."

He stressed that there is no evidence at this point that any of the product is tainted: "There is only one particular lot the FDA looking at now. Everything we're doing is precautionary."

He said that the company expected to be able to provide details on the regions, recipients, and test results of the imported cheese in a few days.