Forever Cheese Expands Listeria Cheese Recall

Forever Cheese just expanded its Listeria cheese recall, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) just announced.

The expanded recall, which was announced on September 14, 2012, includes all lots and all production codes of all Marte brand Ricotta Salata Frescolina cheese, are being recalled, due to possible Listeria Monocytogenes contamination. The following lots/production codes may be found on the original wheel of the recalled cheese: T5086/440220, T5520/440315, T6048/440417, T6528/440519, T7012/440703, T7452/440601, T7939/440822, T8419/441003, T8899/441020, T9425/441202, T9962/441227, and U1392/450126.

The cheese was sold to distributors for retailers and restaurants in Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington between September 1, 2011 and August 31, 2012. The recalled cheese, which is a product of Italy, was sold to supermarkets, restaurants, and wholesale distributors.

The firm suggests consumers follow up at the place where the recalled ricotta salata was purchased to ensure when it was cut or repacked and that it was not relabeled. If the product was relabeled, consumers may not be able to determine if the cheese is Marte brand Ricotta Salata Frescolina. The firm is contacting all distributors and retailers, who should be contacted to receive a full refund, it said. Forever Cheese may be contact via Jeff DiMeo, toll-free, at 1.888.930.8693 between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, Eastern Standard Time; mention “Recall.

We wrote, earlier this week, that contamination concerns prompted the maker of the tainted cheese to be put on import alert following 15 illnesses in 12 states and Washington, DC. NBC News reported that as many as three deaths have been linked to the recalled cheese. All of those sickened required hospitalization. Illnesses were reported from March 28 and August 30. Of the three reported deaths, one from Minnesota was not linked to listeriosis, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); listeriosis did contributed to the deaths in Nebraska and New York, NBC News reported.

Forever Cheese announced that it ceased importing and selling all products produced by Fattorie Chiarappa Srl. Ricotta Salata Frescolina, Marte brand Roasted Ricotta and Hard Ricotta Salata. Products from Fattorie Chiarappa S.R.L of Conversano, Italy, will be denied admission into the U.S. unless the importer proves that that the cheese is not contaminated with the potentially deadly Listeria monocytogenes bacterium, agency officials said.

The recalled cheese is salty, white, manufactured from pasteurized sheep’s milk, and typically served crumbled or grated in salads and pasta dishes. Ricotta Salata, explained is not the same as the ricotta cheese, which is typically packaged in tubs, sold in grocery stores, and used in dishes such as lasagna.

The Listeria pathogen thrives in cold temperatures and has an unusually long incubation period—up to 70 days—according to experts. The pathogen also well tolerates heat and dry temperatures, which makes its eradication challenging.

Listeriosis, the food borne disease caused by the Listeria pathogen, is dangerous and can be deadly, causing serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy individuals may suffer short-term symptoms, such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. In pregnant women, Listeriosis can result in miscarriage, stillbirth, or birth of a baby suffering from the infection. Pregnant women are about 20 times likelier than others to be infected, with about one-third of all Listeriosis cases occurring during pregnancy. Listeriosis can also kill fetuses, prompt premature births, and can lead to hearing loss or brain damage in newborns and neurological effects and cardio respiratory failure in adults.

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