August 1, 2014

Maker of Cheese Linked to Deadly Listeria Outbreak Put on Import Alert By FDA

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has placed the maker of recalled cheese linked to a deadly Listeria outbreak that has sickened 14 people and killed two on import alert. Cheese made by Fattorie Chiarappa S.R.L.of Conversano, Italy, will be denied admission into the United States unless the company can show, through independent lab testing, that it is not contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Federal officials have identified imported ricotta salata as the source of a Listeria outbreak that has sickened 14 people in 11 states and the District of Columbia. Ricotta salata is not the same kind of ricotta cheese that is sold in tubs and often used to make lasagna. The cheese was distributed by Forever Cheese of Long Island City, NY, to various wholesale and retail stores including Whole Foods.

The cheese may be identified with a lot number (T9425) and/ or a production code (441202), however, the cheese was cut and repackaged  at some stores. During this process, cross-contamination of other cheeses may have occurred. The investigation into this outbreak continues, in order to determine whether there are other possible sources of the outbreak.

The recalled cheese was distributed to California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington between June 20 and August 9, 2012.  Consumers who have purchased this cheese should not eat it. Listeria  can cause severe illness or death. A lawsuit was filed this week on behalf of one of the victims who became gravely ill after eating cheese.

Symptoms  of a Listeria infection include fever, muscle aches, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. These symptoms can develop quickly or take as long as 70 days to set in. Anyone who believes their illness is associated with the consumption of imported cheese should see a health care provider.

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