The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently linked an outbreak of listeriosis to cheeses made by Wisconsin cheese maker Crave Brothers. The products involved are Les Frères, Petit Frère, and Petit Frère with Truffles cheeses made before July 1st, 2013. Crave Brothers issued a voluntary recall on July 3rd for these products.
Consumers who have any of these cheeses in their homes should dispose of them at once, even if some of the cheese was consumed with no ill effects; your family doctor should be notified of possible exposure to listeria. Symptoms can take up to two months to appear, but typically appear within 2 to 3 days after exposure. Symptoms of listeriosis are high fever, muscle aches, diarrhea, headache, stiff neck, loss of balance, and possible convulsions. Mild symptoms usually require no treatment, while more serious infections require antibiotics.
Consumers should take the following steps to dispose of the cheese and clean potential affected areas:
- Place the cheeses in a sealable plastic bag, and place that bag in a sealed trash can to prevent other people or animals from eating it.
- Thoroughly wash the cheese drawer and other areas where the cheese was stored in the refrigerator with hot water and soap. Sanitize the area with a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of hot water.
- Thoroughly wash any cutting boards, surfaces, or utensils (such as knives or spreaders) that may have come in contact with the cheese. Sanitize in a dishwasher.
Food service firms, restaurants, and cheese retailers should consult the CDC’s website for protocols regarding disposal and sanitation of exposed surfaces and storage areas.
Listeriosis is caused by a common bacterium, Listeria monocytogene. Although most cases of Listeriosis occur in animals, Listeria is one of the more virulent food-borne pathogens in the human food chain, responsible for about 2,500 illnesses and 500 deaths each year. Five infections and one death have been reported in the current outbreak. Cases were reported in Minnesota (2), Illinois (1), Indiana (1), and Ohio (1). Pregnant women, older adults, and persons with weakened or compromised immune systems are most at risk.
For more information on the recall, visit Crave Brother’s website or the CDC’s website.
Sources: Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, Centers for Disease Control, Cheese: Chemistry, Physics, and Microbiology, Volume 1, General Aspects, Fox, pp541-559