Maker of Listeria-Tainted Ricotta Cheese Put on Import Alert

Contamination concerns prompted the maker of Listeria-tainted ricotta cheese to be put on import alert, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) just announced.

To date, 15 illnesses involving 12 states and Washington, DC, may be related to this potential contamination involving one Listeria strain and Forever Cheese products. 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.

Since, 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. Also, 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.

On September 10, Forever Cheese Inc., which is located in Long Island, N.Y., recalled one lot of its cheese—about 4,800 pounds, said NBC News. The recall was expanded and now includes all lots and product codes of Marte Brand Frescolina ricotta salata cheese. The cheese may also be named Ricotta Frescolina Marte Tipo Toscanella or Ricotta Salata Soft Lot (T9425).

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 NBC News, 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.

As we’ve mentioned, the potential for contamination was discovered after an illness was reported in connection with consumption of the recalled ricotta cheese. All distributors and retailers were contacted by Forever Cheese to ensure all remaining recalled ricotta in the marketplace was removed. The firm advised consumers in possession of any of the recalled ricotta cheese to contact their distributor or retailer for a full refund. Jeff DiMeo of Forever Cheese may be reached, toll-free, at 1.888.930.8693, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time (EST); mention “Recall.”

The Listeria pathogen thrives in cold temperatures, such as those found in refrigerated environments 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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