Chabad's flagship halav yisrael dairy is no more.
OGDENSBURG (AP) -- The state agriculture department has shut down a troubled kosher cheese plant near New York's northern border.
The action Friday was based on inspection of the Ahava plant and samples of its products, which showed excessive levels of bacteria. State inspectors have seized more than 25,000 pounds of cheese found unfit for human consumption.
Ahava only sold its products in bulk. State officials said they were trying to determine if any retail outlets had received unsafe Ahava products.
Earlier this month, the city of Ogdensburg started seeking potential buyers for the kosher cheese operation because the company reportedly owes the city $90,000 in back rent and more than $600,000 in delinquent utility payments. The city had notified the company it would be evicted March 10th if the bills weren't paid. The company reponded that it wouldn't contest the lease termination.
Ahava filed for bankruptcy protection last year but its petition was rejected.
UPDATE 2:30 pm Sunday, February 22 – FGBA notes Ahava products were found to have non-food grade oil in them:
Debbie Groom/The Post-Standard
Ogdensburg, NY -- New York state officials on Friday suspended the operation of a cheese manufacturing plant in Ogdensburg.
State Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets Patrick Hooker issued the following statement:
"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 plant's products, which showed that continued operation and distribution of its products could pose a serious danger to the public's 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, Ahava's 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."
[Hat Tip: Joel Katz.]