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Possible Listeria Contamination in Sweetwater Valley Farm Aged Black Pepper Cheese

May 16, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

Effective immediately, the Sweetwater Valley Farm, Inc. of Philadelphia, Tennessee is recalling its Tennessee Aged Black Pepper Cheese due to a potential Listeria monocytogenes contamination.  The food product is listed as Tennessee Aged Black Pepper Cheese, Lot Number 616-361 and was distributed in five-, seven-, and 10-ounce ounce bars through Sweetwater Valley Farm’s retail store in Philadelphia, Tennessee as well as through a winery in Portland, Tennessee.

No more than 100 pounds of the possibly tainted Tennessee Aged Black Pepper Cheese were distributed between December 27, 2007 and May 12, 2008.  Although no illnesses have been reported, to date, the recall followed a routine sampling program by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture which revealed that the finished product contained the Listeria moncytogenes bacteria. Sweetwater Valley Farm has halted distribution of the affected lot and continues its investigation into what caused the Listeria contamination.

Consumers who have purchased lot number 616-361 of Tennessee Aged Black Pepper Cheese are urged bring it to Sweetwater Valley Farm for replacement or refund.  Consumers can also ship the product back to Sweetwater Valley Farm for replacement or refund.  Consumers can contact the Sweetwater Valley Farm’s consumer affairs department at 1-877-862-4332 for more information.

Listeriosis is a type of food poisoning generated by the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria and is dangerous to the elderly, pregnant women, newborns, those with chronic medical conditions, people with HIV, or those who are undergoing chemotherapy.  Most experience only mild flu like symptoms—fever, muscle aches, nausea, or diarrhea.  In serious cases, the disease spreads to the nervous system, causing headaches, stiff neck, and convulsions.  In pregnant women, Listeriosis can result in miscarriage or stillbirth.  Listeria lives in soil, stream water, sewage, plants, and food and can easily contaminate dairy and beef products; listeria thrives in cold environments.

This year, listeria has been the focus of a number of outbreaks, including three cases in North Carolina linked to soft cheeses and an outbreak at Massachusetts’ Whittier Farms dairy where four people died and more were sickened.  In Washington, the Ca Rem #1 Ice Cream, SeaTac recalled popsicles for contamination; the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) alerted the public to avoid consuming smoked pork and beef bratwurst produced by J&B Meats; Meijer Inc. of Grand Rapids, Michigan, pulled 2,184 pounds of frozen entrees; and Stop and Shop recalled four types of prepared chicken.  Raw milk from Piney Ridge dairy farm and Clark and Elaine Duncan's farm was contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes in Pennsylvania.  Recently, the Rhode Island Department of Health issued a warning about soy sprouts infected with listeria sold under the Chang Farms label.  The Gourmet Boutique of Queens, New York recalled about 286,000 pounds of fresh and frozen beef, pork, and poultry products that may be contaminated.

And, just this week, the Georgia Department of Agriculture food scientists discovered Listeria monocytogenes in a sample of Bright Water Smoked Salmon & Cheese Spread and in another unrelated contamination, R&R Alsatian Sausage and Products recalled some of its beef jerky products due to possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes, according to the Department of State Health Services in Texas.

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