Cheese Sold at Whole Foods Market Associated with Listeria Outbreak

According to the CDC the outbreak strain of Listeria bacteria was found in at least one imported cheese, Ricotta Salata Frescolina distributed by Forever Cheese, Inc.  Other cheeses may be involved in this outbreak, including Jean Perrin Edel de Cleron, a French cheese repackaged by Whole Foods Market and sold under the Whole Foods label.

Fred and his litigation team are in contact with state health departments and are actively investigating this complex outbreak that has 14 CDC-confirmed cases and most likely many, many more that are either not yet reported or in the process of being confirmed. If you were sickened after eating ricotta or any other soft cheese sold at Whole Foods Market or any other store, we want to hear from you. Any information you have can help with the investigation and prevent further illness. Also, we can help you get compensation for your illness or that of a family member. Listeria is an extremely dangerous pathogen, particularly to unborn babies, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems, including people with cancer of any age.

This outbreak has killed or severely sickened at least 4 babies, including two where the pregnancy ended in stillbirth. These parents have suffered an incredible loss, and our thoughts are with them. Fred has represented parents in this situation and helped them get justice, winning over $2 million for one family.

Public health investigators are using DNA “fingerprints” of Listeria obtained through diagnostic testing with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, or PFGE, to identify cases of illness that may be part of this outbreak.  As stated above, CDC has confirmed a total of 14 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes from 11 states and Washington DC:

Among persons for whom information is available, dates that illness was diagnosed range from March 28, 2012 to August 30, 2012. All 14 ill persons were hospitalized. Four of the illnesses were related to a pregnancy; two of these were diagnosed in newborns. The other 10 ill persons ranged in age from 56 years to 87 years, with a median age of 79 years, and 55% were female. No fetal losses have been reported. Three deaths have been reported; one each in Minnesota, Nebraska, and New York. Listeriosis contributed to at least one of the deaths in Nebraska and New York, but did not contribute to the death in Minnesota (CDC).

Investigation of the Outbreak

Imported Frescolina brand ricotta salata cheese distributed by Forever Cheese, Inc. is the likely source of this outbreak of listeriosis. In interviews (part of the epidemiological investigation), ill persons answered questions about foods consumed and other exposures in the month before becoming ill. Twelve (86%) of 14 ill persons interviewed reported consuming a soft cheese (as a note of caution, soft cheeses are often associated with listeriosis and should be avoided by pregnant women, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems).

All six ill persons who could provide information about packaging of cheeses reported consuming cheese that had been cut and repackaged at a retail location. One of the retailers who received the cheese was Whole Foods Market, but the CDC announcement of this outbreak did not name the retailer. We think it is critical that consumers know the name of the retailer associated with this outbreak. The CDC’s lack of transparency during outbreaks is endangering the public.

The investigation is complex because ill persons reported consuming many different cheeses from many different retail locations. Every Listeria outbreak is complex because the incubatiohn period can be over two months. This means that a person could eat contaminated cheese and not show any signs of illness for over 60 days. During that time a lot of food is consumed.

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Category: Food Poisoning
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