FDA Investigates Multi-State Outbreak of Listeria Monocytogenes Linked to Cheese

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local officials are investigating a multi-state outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections. The FDA is currently engaged in a fast-breaking investigation of a multi-state outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections linked to Les Frères, Petit Frère, and Petit Frère with Truffles cheese distributed by Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Company of Waterloo, Wisconsin. The FDA is conducting an inspection at the firm’s processing facility in cooperation with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture. 

According to the CDC, as of July 3, 2013, five persons infected with the same strain of Listeria monocytogenes infection (listeriosis) have been identified in four Midwestern states.

The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Illinois (1), Indiana (1), Minnesota (2), and Ohio (1). Ill persons range in age from 31 years to 67 years.
Dates for ill persons’ diagnoses ranged from May 20, 2013 to June 17, 2013.
Five ill persons have reported being hospitalized, and one death has been reported.
One illness in a pregnant women resulted in a miscarriage.

The pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) subtype of Listeria monocytogenes, or the bacteria’s "DNA fingerprint,” isolated from cases in the cluster is indistinguishable from isolates retrieved during 2010 and 2011 environmental sampling efforts by the FDA at Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics Cheese.

Laboratory tests conducted by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture on samples of Les Frères and Petit Frère with Truffles cheeses made by Crave Brothers from two retail stores indicate the presence of the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes.  Further testing and confirmation of the results are pending.

On July 3, 2013, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Company recalled the following products:

- Les Frères (LF225 2/2.5#) with a make date of 7-1-13 or prior, packaged in white plastic with a green and gold label.
- Petit Frère (PF88 8/8 oz) with a make date of 7-1-13 or prior, packaged in small round wooden boxes.
- Petit Frère with Truffles (PF88T 8/8 oz) with a make date of 7-1-13 or prior, packaged in small round wooden boxes.
These products were distributed nationwide through retail and foodservice outlets as well as by mail orders.

On July 5, 2013, Whole Foods Market announced a recall of Crave Brothers Le Frères cheese sold at Whole Foods Market stores. Signage is posted in Whole Foods Market stores to notify customers of this recall. Customers who have purchased this product from Whole Foods Market should discard it, and may bring their receipt to a Whole Foods Market location for a full refund.

Listeriosis is a rare and serious illness caused by eating food contaminated with the bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes. Persons in a higher-risk category, including pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems, and older adults, who experience fever within 2 months after eating Les Frères, Petit Frère, and Petit Frère with Truffles cheeses manufactured by Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Company, should seek medical care and tell the health care provider about eating the contaminated cheese.

Listeriosis can be fatal, especially in certain high-risk groups. These groups include older adults, people with weakened immune systems and certain chronic medical conditions (such as cancer), unborn babies and newborns. In pregnant women, listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature labor, and serious illness or death in newborn babies, though the mother herself rarely becomes seriously ill.

Using the information available at this time, CDC recommends that consumers do not eat the following cheeses manufactured by Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Company of Waterloo, Wisconsin:

Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics Les Frères cheese
Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics Petit Frère cheese
Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Classics Petit Frère with Truffles cheese
 
Consumers should check their homes for these cheeses and discard them. According to Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Company consumers mayalso return the cheese to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Source: CDC, FDA

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