The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have updated their investigation into the outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes linked to imported Frescolina Marte brand ricotta salata cheese. Now 20 people in 13 states have been sickened in this outbreak. Nineteen people have been hospitalized, and four have died. One fetal loss was also reported.
The case count is distributed in these states: California (3), Colorado (1), District of Columbia (1), Maryland (3), Minnesota (1), Nebraska (1), New Jersey (3), New Mexico (1), New York (1), Ohio (1), Pennsylvania (2), Virginia (1), and Washington (1). Clinical specimens were collected from March 28, 2012 to September 19, 2012. Nine of the illnesses were related to a pregnancy; three of the illnesses were diagnosed in newborns. the other 11 ill persons range in age from 30 years to 87 years; the median age is 77 years. Four deaths have been reported; one each in Minnesota, New York, California, and Nebraska.
Attorney Ryan Osterholm said, “whoever cut and repackaged this contaminated cheese needs to inform the public about every store that received the cheese. How many more people have to become ill before we know exactly where this contaminated product was sold?”
Whole Foods initiated a recall of the cheese in September. The cheese was sold by that facility in 21 states and Washington D.C.
The cheese may have been labeled as Ricotta Frescolina Marte Tip Toscanella or Ricotta Salata Soft (lot number T9425) during distribution. The original recalled cheese had a PLU number of 239427. The problem is that the original contaminated cheese most likely contaminated other cheeses when it was repackaged. If you or anyone you know has eaten deli cheeses and experienced the symptoms of listeriosis, including a flu-like fever, muscle aches, upset stomach, diarrhea, stiff neck, loss of balance, confusion, or convulsions, see your doctor immediately.