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Santa Lucia Ricotta Cheese Recalled

Dec 3, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP Possible Listeria contamination has prompted another food recall.  Both the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the International Cheese Company Ltd. have issued a warning to the public against consuming Santa Lucia brand Ricotta Cheese because of a possible listeria contamination, according to a press release published today on

The press release stated that the Santa Lucia Ricotta Cheese is sold in packages of 500 g and the packages bear a Best Before Date of 09JA01 (January 1, 2009) and lot number 477; the Santa Lucia Ricotta Cheese was distributed in Ontario.  A voluntary recall has been issued by the manufacturer, International Cheese Company Ltd. of Toronto, Ontario, and  the CFIA is monitoring the recall.

Infection with Listeria monocytogenes can result in listeriosis and symptoms can take days or weeks to surface and include a mild flu-like illness, meningitis, or septicemia.  Health Canada notes that symptoms also include: Vomiting, nausea, cramping, diarrhea, severe headache, constipation, and persistent fever.

Pregnant women are at particular risk to Listeria and can experience spontaneous abortion, miscarriage, or birth of a seriously infected child.  Other at-risk groups include the very young; the very old; and those with compromised immune systems, such as people undergoing chemotherapy or those with AIDS/HIV.  All at-risk individuals are generally advised to avoid foods such as soft cheeses and pates because the risk of infection with these foods is considered high; the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria thrives in low temperatures, such as can be found in a refrigerator.  The National Post points out that foods contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes do not appear by sight, smell, or taste to be spoiled.

In the U.S., an estimated 2,500 cases of listeria occur annually with about 200 in every 1000 cases resulting in death.  Health Canada notes that, “Listeria is more likely to cause death than other bacteria that cause food poisoning.  In fact, 20 to 30 percent of food borne listeriosis infections in high-risk individuals may be fatal.”

Listeria often invades the body through a normal and intact gastrointestinal tract.  Once in the body, Listeria can travel through the blood stream; however, Listeria is often found inside cells where toxins are produced resulting in damaged cells.  Pregnant women are about 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get listeriosis; about one-third of listeriosis cases take place during pregnancy. The incidence of listeriosis in newborns is 8.6 cases per 100,000 live births.  The perinatal and neonatal mortality rate (stillbirths and early infant deaths) from listeriosis is 80 percent. notes that pregnant women experience an increased miscarriage risk if they develop listeriosis within their first trimester, while the risk of delivering a stillborn baby or of giving birth to a very ill baby increases in the second and third trimesters.

International Cheese Company Ltd. can be reached at 416-769-3547; CFIA can be reached at 1-800-442-2342 / TTY 1-800-465-7735 from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday.

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