Listeriosis Outbreak Linked to Les Freres Cheese Sold at Whole Foods

At least one person has died and four others have been sickened with listeriosis, as part of an outbreak linked to listeria contaminated Les Freres cheese sold at Whole Foods Markets and other stores nationwide.  

On July 3, the Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Company issued a Les Freres cheese recall after reports of listeriosis were tracked back to the cheese.

The cheese was sold at a number of retail and foodservice outlets nationwide, including Whole Foods, which issued its own cheese recall on July 5.

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Listeria food poisoning poses a serious and potentially life-threatening risk, especially for young children, the elderly and others with a weakened immune system. For pregnant women, literiosis can pose a risk of miscarriages and still births.

The same strain of listeria has sickened people in Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, with the one fatality involving an older adult in Minnesota. It has not been confirmed where those who fell ill purchased the contaminated cheese.

The recall affects Les Freres (LF225 2/2.5#), Petit Frere (PF88 8/8 oz), and Petit Frere with Truffles (PF88T 8/8 oz) from Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Company. All of the affected cheeses have a manufacturing date of 7-1-13 or earlier. At Whole Foods Market they were sold as Les Freres, Crave Brothers Les Freres, Les Freres Wash Rind Product of USA, and similar names.

Whole Foods has posted signage in its stores to notify customers of the recall. It is unclear how many other retailers sold the cheese and how widespread it was, but Whole Foods sold the products nationwide.

Listeriosis has become more prevalent and concerning than some of the more common contaminations, such as Salmonella, simply because most people do not experience symptoms immediately. Listeria symptoms consist of fever, muscle aches, nausea, or diarrhea, which may not be immediately recognized as food poisoning. In severe cases, people may develop problems like meningitis, mental changes, brain abscesses, or even death.

Crave Brothers stopped production upon being notified of the outbreak and says it is cooperating with regulatory agencies investigating the illnesses.

The company recommends that consumers who purchased the recalled cheese products not eat them. They can be returned to their place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions can call the company at (800) 647-7292.

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