US Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to cheeses

Six cases of Listeria monocytogenes have been linked to brie and camembert cheeses manufactured in by Old Europe Cheese, Inc. of Benton Harbor, Michigan.

Outbreak cases were reported to the CDC by California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, and Texas.

Five of the six outbreak victims were hospitalized. There have been no deaths.

Four of the five patients for whom information was available reported having consumed brie or camembert cheese before becoming ill.

Old Europe Cheese has announced a voluntary recall of all Brie and Camembert products with best by dates through 12/14/2022. The recalled products were distributed across the United States and in Mexico from August 01, 2022 through September 28, 2022.

The recalled cheeses were packaged and sold under a variety of brand names, including: Reny Picot, Black Bear, Block & Barrel, Charmant, Cobblestone, Culinary Tour, Fredericks, Fresh Thyme, Glenview Farms, Good & Gather, Heinen’s, Joan of Arc, La Bonne Vie, Lidl Preferred Selection, Life in Provence, Matrie’d, Market 32, Metropolitan, Prestige, Primo Taglio, Red Apple Cheese, St. Randeaux, Taste of Inspiration, St. Rocco, and Trader Joe.

Please refer to the Old Europe Cheese recall notice for a complete list of recalled products, which are believed to have been sold at Albertsons, Safeway, Meijer, Harding’s, Shaw’s, Price Chopper, Market Basket, Raley’s, Save Mart, Giant Foods, Stop & Shop, Fresh Thyme, Lidl, Sprouts, Athenian Foods, and Whole Foods. 

The company cautions that other retailers may have sold the recalled cheeses. If you have purchased a brie or camembert cheese, please refer to the recall list and discard any cheese that appears on that list.

The FDA, with the assistance of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, carried out an intensive inspection of the Old Europe Cheese facility in Benton Harbor.

The investigation included collecting and analyzing 120 environmental and finished product samples.

One of the environmental samples yielded a culture of Listeria monocytogenes that matched the outbreak strain.

Advice from FDA to consumers, restaurants and retailers

  • Consumers, restaurants, and retailers should not eat, sell, or serve recalled products and should throw them away; this includes Best By Dates ranging from September 28, 2022 to December 14, 2022, and all flavors and quantities.
  • Retailers may have repackaged bulk Old Europe Cheese items into smaller containers and sold this repackaged product to consumers. This repackaged product may not bear the original labeling and product information. If you are unsure where your Brie or Camembert cheese is from, ask your retailer or throw it away.
  • Call your healthcare provider right away if you have these symptoms after eating Old Europe Cheese Inc. or Reny Picot brand Brie and Camembert products:
    • Pregnant people typically experience only fever, fatigue, and muscle aches. However, Listeria infection during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn.
    • People who are not pregnant may experience headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions, in addition to fever and muscle aches.
  • Follow FDA’s safe handling and cleaning advice and use extra vigilance in cleaning and sanitizing any surfaces and containers that may have come in contact with these products to reduce the risk of cross-contamination, including retailers who repackaged bulk recalled cheese. Listeria can survive in refrigerated temperatures and can easily spread to other foods and surfaces.

Old Europe Cheese has set up a telephone line to answer any questions about this recall. The number is 269-925-5003 ext 335 and is open Monday through Friday from 9:00am-12:30pm and 2:00pm-4:00pm ET

Learn more about a variety of food safety issues in TAINTED. From Farm Gate to Dinner Plate, Fifty Years of Food Safety Failures, now available in digital, print and audiobook editions.

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