Brie cheese sold under the brand of popular supermarket chains Lidl and Trader Joe’s has been linked to a listeria outbreak, the CDC reveals.
The outbreak has affected six people in California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey and Texas. Five people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported related to the outbreak.
Old Europe Cheese, Inc, based in Benton Harbor, Michigan, is recalling its products after being contaminated by the bacteria. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the company supplies cheese to 25 brands.
The brands are sold in many US supermarkets, including Giant, Whole Foods, Lidl and Trader Joe’s.
The affected plots have a best-before date from September 28 to December 14, 2022. The confirmed infections date from August 2017.
Listeria is a bacterial infection often associated with dairy products – such as cheese – and processed meats. It can be very dangerous for pregnant women, newborns and the elderly.
Lidl (left) and Trader Joe’s (right) brands of brie cheese are included in the recall
Listeria cases are spread across six US states of California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey and Texas (green)
WHAT IS LISTERIOSE?
Most people who get listeriosis, caused by bacteria called listeria, will experience only mild symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea.
Other symptoms of the infection may include a high temperature of 38°C or higher, aches and pains, according to the NHS.
Listeria monocytogenes (stock) as found in the prepackaged food sold in hospitals
However, more serious complications can occur in people with weakened immune systems, babies, the elderly, and pregnant women.
Many foods may contain listeria, but it is most commonly found in unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses, and ready-to-eat foods, such as prepackaged sandwiches.
Listeria is widespread in the environment and can be found in raw food and soil, and in the feces of many mammals, birds and fish.
According to figures, about 180 cases of listeriosis are confirmed each year in England. It strikes around 850 annually in the US.
HOW CAN YOU PREVENT LISTERIOSE?
- wash your hands regularly with soap and water
- wash fruits and vegetables before eating them
- store ready-to-eat food as recommended by the manufacturer
- make sure all hot food is hot all the time
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the voluntary recall on Friday. The CDC issued a notice tying the recall to the current outbreak.
The six cases linked to the cheese supplier by the CDC are spread over the past five years.
A case in August 2017 was reported first, followed a year and a half later in 2019 by a second case. In January 2020, a third was tied to the cheese.
However, three cases have been confirmed in the past six months, including two in May and one in August.
Five of these patients had to be hospitalized to cope with their illness. None of the patients died from complications related to the infection.
Old Europe Cheese supplies its cheese to more than two dozen brands, selling a total of nearly 100 products covered by the recall.
Brands involved include: Black Bear, Block & Barrel, Charming, Cobblestone, Culinary Tour, Fredricks, Fresh Thyme, Glenview Farms, Good & Gather, Heinen’s, Joan of Arc, La Bonne Vie, Lidl, Life in Province, Market 32, Matrie ‘d, Metropolitan, Prestige, Primo Taglio, Red Apple Cheese, Reny Picot, St Randeaux, Taste of Inspiration, Trader Joe.
The FDA warns that some products not even mentioned in their warning may be affected, as these aged cheese products are sometimes repackaged and resold.
The disease is normally picked up by eating foods contaminated — such as raw vegetables, meat and unpasteurized milk — with the microbes.
But in rare cases, it can also be picked up through close contact with farm animals.
Patients with Listeria in their gut may experience diarrhea and vomiting, with symptoms starting within 24 hours of contracting the disease.
But in cases where the bacteria spreads to the rest of the body, it can cause fever, muscle aches, fatigue, and headaches.
The CDC reports that up to a third of infected people will die from the disease in any given year, with the elderly and those with weakened immune systems at higher risk.
Each year, approximately 1,600 Americans are diagnosed with the disease, and of this number, 260 die from the disease.
Officials advise people at high risk who have symptoms of a Listeria infection to contact their healthcare provider.