Schwyz: cheesemaker convicted of negligent homicide

Schwyz: cheesemaker convicted of negligent homicide
Schwyz: cheesemaker convicted of negligent homicide

A Schwyz cheesemaker receives a 2-year suspended prison sentence

Published today at 5:16 p.m.

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A former Schwyz cheesemaker receives a 2-year suspended prison sentence for negligent homicide. Between 2018 and 2020, he produced and sold brie infested with listeria. Consumption of this cheese caused seven deaths and made at least 13 people very ill.

The sanction imposed on the defendant by the Schwyz District Court is accompanied by a suspended financial penalty of 80 days fine of 120 francs, the Court told Keystone-ATS on Wednesday. The latter confirms information revealed by German-speaking radio and television SRF.

The trial took place under an accelerated procedure, with the parties having reached agreement on the conviction and the sentence imposed. The judges found the accused guilty of negligent homicide, negligent bodily harm and grievous bodily harm, as well as breaching the Foodstuffs Act.

Around thirty infections in two years

In total, the bacteria from the former Steinerberg cheese factory (SZ), closed following the scandal, infected 34 consumers in two years, the Schwyz Public Prosecutor’s Office said on Tuesday. In its indictment, however, the investigating authority only takes into account twenty cases, seven of which were fatal.

In ten cases, the criminal proceedings were closed, because the bacteria was not the cause of the health problems of the sick people, or because the people concerned withdrew their complaint. In four other cases, the contact details of the alleged victims remained unknown.

Negligent in its controls

According to the indictment, the operator of the former cheese factory neglected his duty to control foodstuffs. An inspection of the incriminated cheese factory revealed the presence of listeria bacteria in May 2020.

Businesses selling products from the cheese factory were then ordered to withdraw them from sale. The Federal Office for Food Safety and Veterinary Affairs has warned the population.

A scientific analysis commissioned by the Confederation made it possible to make a link between the discovery in May 2020 and cases of listeria infection in 2018. The intercantonal chemist from Uri, Schwyz, Nidwalden and Obwalden filed a complaint against the operator of the cheese factory in July 2020.

In people with an intact immune system, a listeria infection usually causes only mild symptoms or no symptoms. People with a weakened immune system can, on the other hand, develop various serious symptoms, sometimes leading to death.

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