June 5, 2020

Attorney Calls for Transparency in Ricotta Salata Listeria Outbreak Investigation

Attorney Fred Pritzker, who is representing two people who were sickened in the Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to imported Frescolina ricotta salata cheese, called on the CDC, FDA, and state health departments to name all of the cheeses, manufacturers, distributors, retail outlets, and restaurants who may have sold the cheese. ┬áPritzker said, “Admittedly, health agencies must utilize discretion in identifying companies and products implicated in outbreaks. However, the health of consumers must drive these disclosures, not the financial implications for companies in the supply chain of adulterated products.”

Ricotta salataThe cheese, which was distributed by Forever Cheese, Inc. of New York, has been recalled by Whole Foods, Kroger Foods, and the FDA. It is linked to an outbreak which, according to the CDC, has sickened at least 14 people in 11 states and caused the death of two people. All of those sickened in this outbreak have been hospitalized. The outbreak strain of Listeria is very rare, and has been found in an uncut sample of the cheese.

The CDC stated that a “retail location” cut and repackaged the cheese in question and most likely cross-contaminated other cheeses and perhaps other products. “If one retail location likely played such an important role in spreading the pathogen from the Frescolina brand ricotta salata cheese to other high-end cheeses, government officials and the companies involved should immediately identify the retailer and anyone else in the supply chain,” Pritzker continued.

A Whole Foods recall in July is linked to one of the confirmed cases of listeriosis. The Whole Foods store in Pittsburgh recalled Jean Perrin Edel de Cleron cheese sold at the East Liberty store for possible Listeria contamination. One person was sickened with listeriosis after eating this cheese. Pritzker stated that if the genetic fingerprint from that recall matches the PFGE pattern from the recalled Frescolina brand ricotta salata cheese, this raises even more questions about how or whether cross contamination occurred and who was responsible for it.

Anyone who has suffered or who may suffer symptoms of listeriosis should contact their healthcare provider immediately, especially if they consumed cheeses or other products from a store deli. The symptoms of Listeria food poisoning include a stiff neck, headache, flu-like fever, muscle aches, upset stomach, diarrhea, and confusion or convulsions.

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