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Whole Foods recalls cheese after illness kills 1, sickens others in 30 states

Teresa Tanoos's picture
Whole Foods recalls cheese after outbreak kills one, sickens others in 30 states

Whole Foods Market is recalling Crave Brothers Les Frères cheese in response to an outbreak of a bacterial infection that has sickened people in several states and killed at least one person.

According to a press release published by the FDA, the cheese is being recalled because it may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, the elderly, and others with weakened immune systems.

While healthy individuals can also contract the infection, they usually suffer only short-term symptoms, such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. In pregnant women, however, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths.

Crave Brothers was informed by regulatory agencies of an ongoing investigation related to possible health risks associated with Listeria monocytogenes, prompting the company to immediately cease production and distribution of the products.

The cheese was sold in 30 states and in Washington D.C. under brand-names that include Les Freres and Crave Brothers Les Freres. The cheese was cut and packaged in clear plastic wrap and sold with Whole Foods Market scale labels. The company is posting signs in its stores to inform customers about the recall.

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Officials said cases have been identified in at least three states. Public health officials in Illinois said Wednesday that one resident became sick after eating contaminated cheese in May. On Thursday, Minnesota officials said that one elderly person in the state died and another was hospitalized after illnesses linked to the cheese. Both of those illnesses happened in June.

Crave Brothers is based in Waterloo, Wis. The company announced a voluntary recall of Les Freres, Petit Frere, and Petit Frere with Truffles cheese made on July 1 or earlier, saying that the cheeses were distributed around the country through retail and food service outlets and mail order.

Whole Foods said customers should throw the cheese away and bring in their receipts for a full refund. The FDA published a press release from the company, which states as follows: Customers who have purchased this product from Whole Foods Market should discard it, and may bring in their receipt for a full refund. Questions about this can be directed to 512-477-5566 ext. 20060, Monday-Friday from 8 am to 5 pm CDT. Consumers with questions about Crave Brothers cheese may contact the company directly: Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Company at 920-478-4887, Monday-Friday from 8 am to 5 pm CDT.

Below is a list of how the cheese was labeled, including PLU code, according to the state in which it was sold.

Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas - Labeled as: Les Frères (PLU: 299682)
Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, New Mexico, Utah - Labeled as: Crave Brothers Les Frères (PLU: 299682)
Florida - Labeled as: Les Frères Wash Rind Product of USA (PLU: 294473)
Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey (stores in Marlton Princeton only) - Labeled as: Crave Bros Les Frères (PLU: 294473)
Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, Washington D.C. - Labeled as: Crave Brothers Les Frères (PLU: 294473)
Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri - Labeled as: Crave Brothers Les Frères Cheese by Pound (PLU: 294473)
Nebraska, Wisconsin - Labeled as: Crave Brothers Les Frères Cheese by Pound (PLU: 294473)
Oregon, Washington - Labeled as: Les Frères Crave Brothers (PLU: 294473)
Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee - Labeled as: Les Frères Crave Brothers PO-RK (PLU: 294473)

SOURCE: Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Press Release: "Whole Foods Market Recalls Cheese Because of Possible Health Risk"