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Nationwide Recall Issued for Cheeses Linked to Deadly Listeria Outbreak

Jul 9, 2013

A nationwide recall was issued for soft cheeses linked to a deadly outbreak of Listeria poisoning.

One person died, one woman suffered a miscarriage, and two others have been hospitalized so far. The illnesses and death are being blamed on contaminated cheeses from Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Co., of Waterloo, Wisc. The nationwide recall, announced this week, includes the following products: Les Frères, Petit Frère and Petit Frère with Truffles, according to a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel report.

These cheese have garnered national and international acclaim and were sold to retail and wholesale establishments across the country; they were also available through mail order, according to the Journal-Sentinel report.

Crave Brothers also acknowledged that it is working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to track illnesses linked to its cheeses. The four victims of this outbreak who’ve suffered serious illness or death all confirmed that they ate a soft cheese prior to their illness and believe it was product from the Wisconsin company, according to the Journal-Sentinel. Investigations this week will likely confirm that suspicion. In fact, testing conducted by Minnesota health officials on samples of Crave Brothers’ cheeses included in the recall confirmed the presence of Listeria bacteria.

Based on our previous reports, soft cheeses are a likely source of Listeria contamination. Listeria poisoning is not unlike many other foodborne illnesses but more often than others, victims are likely to suffer more severe symptoms. Early signs of Listeria poisoning mimic those of other food poisonings, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pains. In children, the elderly, and pregnant women, the risk of serious illness from Listeria poisoning is greater. Some pregnant women, like the one in this most recent outbreak, may experience a miscarriage or stillbirth.

In some cases, the cheeses included in the recall were repackaged under a store’s brand name. The Journal-Sentinel notes that Whole Foods Markets takes Crave Brothers cheeses and packs it under its own name for sale to customers.

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