Whole Foods Issues Cheese Recall after Listeria Infections

Food recall lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm announce that Whole Foods recently recalled Crave Brother Les Freres cheese after a bacterial infection sickened customers in several states, killing at least one. The food chain believes the cheese may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The cheese was sold in 30 states as well as Washington D.C. under the brand names Les Freres and Crave Brothers Les Freres. It was cut and packaged in clear plastic wrap and sold with Whole Foods scale labels. Signs are now posted in Whole Foods stores informing customers of the recall.

Cases of bacterial infections have been identified in at least four states (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota), and the death was reported from Minnesota. Listeria can lead to severe illness in those vulnerable to infection, such as pregnant women, young children, senior citizens, and those with weakened immune systems. Minnesota officials affirmed that one elderly resident died from Listeria infection and another has been hospitalized. Both ailments occurred in June 2013.

The FDA asserted that at least one pregnant woman miscarried due to the Listeria contamination and that it is currently in the midst of a fast-breaking investigation. In healthy individuals, Listeria bacteria typically cause symptoms such as high fever, headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Whole Foods is urging customers to throw the Les Freres cheese away and bring their receipt back to the store for a full refund.

Crave Brothers is based out of Waterloo, Wisconsin, and announced the recall of its Les Freres, Petit Frere, and Petit Frere with Truffles cheese made on or before July 1, 2013. Listeria monocytogenes was responsible for about 33 deaths in 2011 from contaminated cantaloupe. The melons came from Jensen Farms in Colorado.

In 2012, four people died from Listeria-contaminated imported Frescolina Marte Ricotta Salata Cheese. A total of 22 people were infected by this outbreak in 13 states and Washington D.C. 20 of those infected were hospitalized, and one fetal loss was reported. The cheese was imported from Italy and distributed by Forever Cheese, Inc.

The exporter of the cheese, Fattorie Chiarappa S.R.L. of Conversano, Italy, was placed on Import Alert by the FDA in the wake of the outbreak. This means the company’s products may not be granted admission into the United States unless the importer proves its products are not contaminated with Listeria.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 90% of people who get Listeria food poisoning are in highly vulnerable groups. Listeria is listed as the third leading cause of death from food poisoning, as about one in five people with the infection die from it. The risk may be reduced by safely storing, preparing, and consuming food. Information and tips concerning safe food guidelines can be found here.

Listeria is difficult to control because those contaminated may not become sick until weeks later, when it is difficult to specifically determine what the contaminated food was. The bacteria can infect many foods we don’t usually cook, such as deli meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables.

Listeria can spread through the bloodstream, causing meningitis in many. A few years ago, pre-cut celery in chicken salad served at hospitals caused ten people to get sick who already had serious health problems; five of them died as a result. Other foods at higher risk than most for Listeria poisoning include raw sprouts, raw milk, hot dogs, and smoked seafood.

Listeria lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm have decades of experience advocating on behalf of victims sickened by contaminated foods and medicines. If you or a loved one was seriously sickened or killed from a bacterial contamination, you have important legal rights, and may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, or wrongful death.