October 24, 2016

International Recalls of Listeria Contaminated Cheese

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Tree of Life Canada are recalling Yanni and Gopi brand cheese products for possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. There have been no illnesses reported in Canada associated with the consumption of these cheeses, but there is an outbreak in the United States linked to recalled Karoun Dairies products.

In fact, in the United States, the Listeria outbreak linked to these cheeses has sickened 24 people in nine states. Twenty-one people, including five pregnant women, have been hospitalized because of their illness. One person in Ohio has died and one woman suffered a miscarriage, according to the CDC. The case patient count is: California (14), Colorado (1), Illinois (1), Massachusetts (2), Michigan (1), New York (2), Ohio (1), Tennessee (1), and Washington (1).

Pulsed field-gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and whole genome sequencing (WGS) is used whenever a person is sickened with a Listeria infection. That information is reported to PulseNet, which stores the info and looks for any matches in its database.

This outbreak includes five rare Listeria monocytogenes serotypes that are similar enough that they are considered part of the outbreak. What is frightening about this outbreak is that the illnesses happened over a period of five years. During that time period, a lot of people ate this cheese.

The multiplier for Listeria infections is two, which means that for every case reported, one is not. There could be at least 48 people sickened in the United States with Listeria infections after eating this recalled cheese.

Yanni Feta Listeria Recalled CheeseIn the Canadian recall, the products recalled are all sold in 226 gram packages, and all codes are included. The Yanni brand products include Hand-Braided String Cheese – Olive oil, Garlic, & Herbs; Hand-Braided String Cheese – Original; Hand-Braided String Cheese – Natural and Hickory Smoked; Feta Basket; Feta Basket with Sundried Tomato & Thyme; Goat Feta Basket, Grilling Cheese – Jalapeño & Spices; and Grilling Cheese – Original. Gopi Paneer cheese is also recalled. You can see the UPC numbers at the CFIA web site. You can also see pictures of the recalled products at that site.

In addition, Safeway Foods in Canada is recalling in-store prepared Flight of Cheese trays that may contain recalled Yanni and Gopi brand cheese products.  Those are plastic wrapped trays of cheese on a styrofoam tray that may contain the Yanni Hand-Braided String Cheese or Gopi brand Paneer. You can see a picture of that product at the CFIA site.

If you purchased these products, either in Canada or the United States, do not eat them. Discard in a sealed container so other people and animals can’t eat them, or return to the place of purchase for a refund. Clean out your refrigerator with a mild bleach solution, since Listeria bacteria can grow at refrigerator temperatures. Wash your hands carefully and thoroughly with soap and water after handling any of these products.

If you ate any of this recalled cheese, monitor yourself for the symptoms of Listeria monocytogenes food poisoning for the next 70 days. Those symptoms include flu-like fever and muscle aches, upset stomach or diarrhea, stiff neck, headache, loss of balance, or confusion. If you do get sick, see your doctor and tell him you ate this recalled cheese.

Pregnant women may only have very mild symptoms similar to the flu, but listeriosis can cause miscarriage and stillbirth. This infection can be passed on to the baby after it is born, which can be fatal.

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