Recalled Cheese May be Tainted with Listeria Monocytogenes
Sargento Foods, Inc. is recalling certain cheese products because they may be contaminated with the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. The recall was issued after Sargento learned of potential contamination from one of its suppliers in Indiana. Eating food contaminated with listeria can lead to serious illness; it is particularly dangerous in pregnant women, children, elderly adults and people with weak immune systems. Sargento is one of the largest cheesemakers in the country.
The food poisoning attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP are offering free legal consultations to individuals who suffered illness after being exposed to listeria. The firm has decades of experience dealing with consumer safety lawsuits.
According to the Sargento website, the recall affects Sargento Ultra Thin Sliced Longhorn Colby, 6.84 oz., UPC 4610000228, with “Sell By” dates of “12APR17B” and “10MAY17B” and Sargento Chef Blends Shredded Nacho & Taco Cheese, 8 oz., UPC 4610040041, with “Sell By” dates of “H14JUN17” and “H12JUL17”.
The company says it is also recalling several other cheese products “out of an abundance of caution… because they were packaged on the same line as the affected cheese.” According to the website, these products include:
• Sargento Sliced Colby-Jack Cheese, 12 oz., UPC 4610000109 with “Sell By” date of “11JUN17B”
• Sargento Sliced Pepper Jack Cheese, 12 oz., UPC 4610000108 with “Sell By” dates of “12JUN17B”, “09JUL17B” and “10JUL17B”
• Sargento Chef Blends Shredded Taco Cheese, 8 oz., UPC 4610040002 with “Sell By” dates of “H14JUN17” and “F28JUN17”
• Sargento Off The Block Shredded Fine Cut Colby-Jack Cheese, 8 oz., UPC 4610040014 with “Sell By” date of “F05JUL17”
• Sargento Off The Block Shredded Fine Cut Cheddar Jack Cheese, 8 oz., UPC 4610040076 with “Sell By” date of “F05JUL17”
Consumers can find the UPC code under the bar code on the back of the cheese package. The “Sell by” date can be found on the front of the package.
A supplier in Indiana informed Sargento of the listeria risk, which may have contaminated its Longhorn Colby cheese. The recalled cheese products were packaged at Sargento’s facility in Plymouth, Wisconsin. No illnesses have been linked to the recall so far, the company says.
Sargento’s listeria scare has also triggered another recall; Taylor Farms, who receives cheese products from Sargento, is recalling 6,630 pounds of chicken and pork salad products. The recall affects certain packages of “Signature Cafe Southwest Chicken Premade Salad,” “Signature Café Southwest Style Salad with Chicken,” and “H-E-B Shake Rattle & Bowl Rowdy Ranch Hand”.
Other Listeria Recalls
Parker Waichman notes that several other food products have been subject to recalls due to listeria contamination. In November 2016, Sabra Dipping Company recalled its hummus products because they may be contaminated with listeria monocytogenes.
Listeria contamination also prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to send a warning letter to Simply Fresh Fruit in October. According to the letter, regulators identified Listeria in three out of 100 environmental samples at the company’s plant in Vernon, California. The FDA also said the company violated Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) regulations. Two of the listeria samples were from areas near food contact surfaces. Additionally, the FDA said a finished product tested positive for listeria.
In its letter to Simply Fresh Fruit, the FDA described listeria as “a major public health concern due to the severity of the disease, its high case-fatality rate, long incubation time, and tendency to affect individuals with underlying conditions.”
Potential listeria contamination also led to numerous ice cream recalls last year. Listeria contamination associated with Dr. Bob’s of Upland, based in Pomona, California, affected several brands, including three brands of gourmet ice cream: including L.A. Creamery, Agave Dream and Nancy’s Fancy.
Other products were also affected by Dr. Bob’s ice cream, including McConnell’s and AC Creamery’s Manila Sky Purple Yumm Ice Cream.
Following the series of listeria recalls, Dr. Bob’s has since closed.
Listeria also prompted Aspen Hills to recall its cookie dough, which subsequently affected several brands of ice cream. The issue was first identified by Blue Bell, who recalled certain lots of its Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Cookie Two Step ice cream in September. The recall was later expanded.
Aspen addressed the issue in a company statement, saying, “…a thorough review of our manufacturing environment has revealed instances where we may not have met our food safety standards…Some of the issues that were identified included inadequate documentation of protocol, failure to wear proper uniforms and the possibility of cross-contamination. Other issues involved the failure of our personnel to consistently follow our standard operating procedures. Any one of these issues is a matter we would take seriously, but collectively they represent to us an unacceptable lapse in the standards our customers — and we — expect. Accordingly, we chose to err on the side of caution and initiate a voluntary recall of a limited quantity of our product.”
Listeriosis can be life-threatening, particularly in children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems. The bacterium is also particularly dangerous in pregnant women. In 2015, 10 people died three were hospitalized after eating Blue Bell ice cream contaminated with listeria. This recall was unrelated to the recent listeria recall.
Listeria Food Poisoning Background
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1,600 cases of listeria infection are reported annually; this leads to 260 deaths. Symptoms of listeria poisoning can include fever, muscle aches, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems.
Pregnant women exposed to listeria can suffer miscarriage or stillbirth.
In 2001, the CDC added listeria to its list of nationally notifiable diseases. The bacterium is found naturally in the environment and can become an issue at food production facilities when tracked inside by humans, raw materials and other ways.
Consumers can take several precautionary measures to reduce the risk of listeriosis. This includes cooking meat thoroughly, washing raw fruits and vegetables well before eating them, and avoiding unpasteurized milk and unpasteurized milk products. To avoid contamination, wash hands immediately after handling uncooked foods.
Legal Help for Food Poisoning Victims
If you or someone you know became exposed to listeria through food contamination, you may have valuable legal rights. The food safety attorneys at Parker Waichman offer free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).