The Sorrento Cheese Company was founded in 1947 by Louis Russo in Blasdell, New York. Russo was a native of Sorrento, Italy, and he established Sorrento Cheese in order to market traditional Italian cheeses to the rapidly growing Italian-American population. In 1960, the company moved to its present location on South Park Avenue in Buffalo. Sorrento was acquired in 1988 by Source Perrier, a French bottled water company, and in 1992, it was sold to Besnier, SA, the largest dairy company in France. In 1999, the company became known as Sorrento Lactalis after Besnier changed its name to Groupe Lactalis. Sorrento manufactures mozzarella and ricotta cheese, and it is one of the largest cheese manufacturers in the United States.
Prior to the late 1970s, asbestos-containing materials were utilized during maintenance procedures at Sorrento Cheese. Block insulation, asbestos rope, pipe covering and insulating cement contained asbestos. Exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma, lung cancer or other asbestos-related diseases. Most workers were completely unaware of the dangers of exposure to asbestos dust and they performed their work without masks or protective gear.
Steam boilers used in the manufacturing process at Sorrento Cheese were covered in asbestos block insulation and access doors on the boilers were sealed with asbestos rope. Asbestos-containing pipe covering was applied to steam and hot water pipes throughout the Sorrento facility. Pipe elbows, pumps, valves and other equipment within the steam system were covered by asbestos-containing insulating cement. During maintenance or repair procedures, workers removed asbestos-containing insulation in order to access equipment within the steam system. After these procedures were completed, new insulation was applied. Applying and removing asbestos-containing insulation caused asbestos dust and fibers to become airborne, which workers inhaled.
Inhaling dust and particles from the application of asbestos-containing materials placed workers at risk for developing asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma or lung cancer. Even those who were not in direct contact with asbestos materials remain at risk for developing an asbestos-related disease. If you or a loved one worked at Sorrento Cheese and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, please contact us for a free and confidential case evaluation.