Two Dead In Australia’s Listeria Outbreak

Two people are dead and one person has miscarried in an Australia-wide outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes illnesses that have been linked to cheese manufactured by Lactalis Jindi Pty Ltd.

In all, Australian health authorities have confirmed 18 cases of Listeria monocytogenes in an outbreak that first was made public on December 18, 2012. According to the Victoria Department of Health, the 18 illnesses were confirmed in Victoria (8 cases), New South Wales (6 cases), Queensland (2 cases), Tasmania (1 case) and Western Australia (1 case). One of the fatalities occurred in Victoria (an 84-year-old man) and one in Tasmania (44-year-old man). In addition, a New South Wales woman who was infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes miscarried.

Earlier today, Lactalis Jindi Pty Ltd. expanded its December 19th recall to include all cheeses manufactured in its Jindivick production facility up to and including January 6, 2013. The recalled cheeses were sold nationwide under the following brand names: Aida Valley, Blue Cow, Coles Finest, Dynasty, Emporium, Enterprize, G&K, Harris Farm, International, Jindi, Jindi Reserve, Kenilworth, Kingaroy, Old Telegraph Road, Raw Materials, Siena, Tomewin Farm, Tomme Farm, Top Paddock, Wattle Valley, and Willow Grove. Please refer to the complete product list for details of package sizes and Best Before dates affected by this recall.

On January 16th, Victorian health officials visited the Jindi factory to assess the appropriateness of the company’s food processing, hygiene and monitoring practices. Jindi implemented a new ‘stricter’ regime of product testing and quality control beginning on January 7th, and health officials are satisfied that appropriate controls are now in place to ensure the safety of the company’s cheeses manufactured on or after that date.

Australia’s current population is approximately 22.9 million people, versus the US population of 313.9 million. On a proportional basis, the size of the Australian outbreak would translate in the USA into 246 confirmed illnesses and 27 deaths. Listeria monocytogenes has a long incubation period, and additional cases may yet be identified. To help protect yourself and your family members from becoming statistics in this outbreak, please read and follow the Advice to Consumers, below.

Advice to Consumers

  • Check your refrigerator for recalled cheeses, and return any to the place of purchase for refund. If you are unsure of the origin of a cut portion of cheese, dispose of it without tasting it.
  • Refer to the list of recalled cheeses periodically; more items may be added to the list as additional information becomes available.
  • If you think that you or a family member may have become ill from eating the affected cheese, consult a doctor immediately. Early symptoms of Listeria monocytogenes infections include fever, headache, fatigue, aches and pains. This infection is particularly dangerous for the elderly, for pregnant women, and for anyone whose immune system is compromised.

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