FDA Investigates Listeria Outbreak from Soft CheeseSeptember 18, 2015 — The FDA has opened an investigation into an outbreak of Listeria from soft cheeses linked to 25 illnesses and one death.

Patients had to be hospitalized in 21 reports (84% of all cases). Five illnesses occurred in pregnant women, with one resulting in fetal loss. One death was reported in Ohio.

Illnesses have been reported in nine states, including California (14), Colorado (1), Illinois (1), Massachusetts (2), Michigan (1), New York (2), Ohio (1), Tennessee (1), and Washington (1).

A recall has been issued by Karoun Dairies, Inc., based in San Fernando, California. No products tested positive for Listeria, but 18 victims reported eating soft cheese in the month before falling ill.

The recall is limited to cheese with UPC codes on the list of recalled cheese (PDF). Brands include Karoun, Arz, Gopi,
Queso Del Valle, Central Valley Creamery, and Yanni

Soft cheeses included in the recall:

  • Ackawi
  • California
  • Cotija
  • Farmers Goat Fresh
  • Fresco
  • Feta
  • Goat Milk Feta
  • Mozzarella
  • Paneer
  • Queso Blanco
  • String Cheese
  • Ani
  • Nabulsi
  • Yanni Grilling

Soft cheese is the most common cause of Listeria outbreaks, according to the CDC — primarily unpasteurized Mexican-style cheeses like queso fresco.

Infection with Listeria is significantly more likely from cheese made with unpasteurized milk, which is not processed to kill bacteria. Cross-contamination can also occur during cheese-making in unsanitary conditions.

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