Whole Foods Recalls Cheese Linked to Outbreak

PHOTO: Cheese Recall Link To Listeria
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Whole Foods Market Inc. announced on Friday the recall of a line of cheeses, which may contain dangerous listeria monocytogenes bacteria. The recalled cheese, identified as Crave Brothers les frères cheese, was sold in Whole Foods stores in 30 states and Washington D.C.

On Wednesday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration linked a multi-state listeriosis outbreak, caused by listeria monocytogenes bacteria, to the cheeses produced by Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese in Wisconsin. According to the FDA, the oubreak has sickened four and killed one.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is testing samples of the cheese and early results indicate that there is listeria monocytogenes bacteria present in the samples. Further confirmation of these results is pending.

The recalled cheeses were sold at Whole Foods stores under the names les frères and Crave Brothers les frères. The cheese was covered in plastic wrap with the Whole Foods Market scale labels.

Customers, who bought the cheese, should throw it out and bring in the receipt for a refund, Whole Foods said.

According to the FDA, five people between the ages of 31 and 67 have been hospitalized as a result of the outbreak. One pregnant woman is believed to have suffered a miscarriage as a result of contracting the disease. Cases were reported in Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

One elderly person in Minnesota died after contracting the illness in June.

If ingested, the listeria monocytogenes bacteria can cause listeriosis, a rare and serious illness. The disease can cause fever, muscle aches, diarrhea or other gastrointestinal issues. In pregnant women it can cause miscarriages or stillbirths.

Older people, pregnant women, newborns or people with weakened immune systems are at the highest risk for contracting the disease and make up 90 percent of listeria infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read more about other deadly listeria outbreaks.

The Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Company has voluntarily recalled certain cheeses that were made on or before July 1, 2013, including their les frères cheese, the petit frère cheese and the petit frère cheese with truffles.

"We are cooperating with the regulatory agencies' ongoing investigation of the cause of the potential health risks," George Crave, president of the company, said in a statement posted on the company's website.

Calls to Crave Brothers were not immediately returned. The FDA and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture are investigating the company's processing facilities.

In 2011 a listeria outbreak related to tainted cantaloupes sickened 147 and killed 33 people.

Find out which foods are riskiest for foodborne illness.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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