Two people have been cited by the Californian state Department of Food and Agriculture for illegally producing soft cheese.

Around 300 pounds of Queso Fresco, a soft white cheese with a mild, slightly salty flavour, have been destroyed, mostly from production units in the Eastvale community of Riverside County.

It is a criminal offence to manufacturer and sell cheese from an unlicensed facility in California, with the maximum penalty being a year-long jail sentence and a US$10,000 fine.

State agriculture officials explain that when produced illegally, the cheese, which is often referred to as “bathtub” cheese because home producers use bathtubs and homemade vats, pose a significant health threat to consumers.

Often sold door-to-door or on flea markets by unlicensed manufacturers, the cheese is often made with raw, unpasteurised milk that can harbour harmful bacteria such as Listeria and Salmonella.